How to Get a Rabbit to Drink Water

Water is the most important nutrient in a rabbit’s diet. Rabbits typically consume twice as much water as they do food; and on hot days, they may drink up to four times as much water as food. So, if your rabbit has stopped drinking, it could be a sign of illness. Even if your rabbit is healthy, it is important that he drinks enough water: Rabbits can easily suffer from dessication of the intestines if they are not well-hydrated. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to facilitate your rabbit’s drinking.

Things You'll Need

  • Water bowl or sipper bottle
  • Clean water
  • Mild detergent
  • Bottle brush
  • Jam
  • Pedialyte or unsweetened juice
  • Syringe

Instructions

    • 1

      Use the proper vessel. Sipper bottles, like those often used in hamster cages, are available for rabbits, but some rabbits may find it more natural to drink from a bowl. Try a heavy, lead-free ceramic bowl, as your rabbit may be tempted to play with a lighter plastic bowl.

    • 2

      Clean the water bowl or bottle with warm water and mild detergent, then fill it with fresh water. Fresh water tastes better, and water bowls are prone to soiling, because they can easily get hay or litter in them. Sipper bottles can be cleaned with a bottle brush. Change the water frequently.

    • 3

      Check the sipper bottle’s tube. Make sure the water is free-flowing and unobstructed. If so, your rabbit may not know how to use it. Smearing a bit of jam on the tip of the tube will encourage the bunny to check it out more closely.

    • 4

      Lower the temperature. Rabbits fare better in cooler temperatures, and usually drink less water as the temperature rises.

    • 5

      Add something tasty to the water. Normally, pure water is recommended for a rabbit’s delicate digestive system, but if your rabbit is at risk of dehydration, mixing a little bit of Pedialyte or unsweetened juice, especially carrot or apple, into his water may encourage drinking.

    • 6

      Try force-feeding your rabbit. Gently squirt water into his mouth with a syringe. This should be done only as a last resort, if your rabbit is sick and at serious risk of dehydration. Consult your veterinarian first.

      Place the syringe of water behind his incisors and squeeze sideways. Squirting the water straight into his mouth could cause water to go down the windpipe.

Tips & Warnings

  • Rabbits get much of their water from the hay and vegetables in their diets, so do not be overly concerned if your bunny drinks more on some days than others.
  • If you use jam to lure your rabbit to a sipper bottle, remove the sweet as soon as the rabbit learns how to use the bottle.
  • Do not give a rabbit Gatorade, or any drink high in sugar. This is unhealthy for his digestive system.
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References

Resources

  • Photo Credit rabbit image by Czintos Ödön from Fotolia.com

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