Why are water bottles bad for rabbits?

Water bottles are not specifically bad for your rabbit but are not fully adequate for hydration

Bunnies looking toward the water bottles, awaiting the return of the tunnels and boxes, with water bowl in frame.

So I actually haven’t been providing water bottles anymore because I noticed they didn’t drink the water from them unless I accidentally let their water bowl go empty, which means they were drinking old gross water.

Having both a main water dish and a bottle as a back-up is a solid idea and there is nothing wrong with that, but making a rabbit drink from only a bottle is not sufficient for their hydration needs.

Think about how it takes you longer to drink from a water bottle…

Water in bottles is for human convenience and if you’re really thirsty you wouldn’t feel satisfied drinking from a bottle.

The same way it is for humans: it takes longer for the rabbit to drink from a bottle and you may notice your rabbit sitting at their water bottle clicking it for 20-30 minutes. That is because of the way the nipple on the bottle mediates the water and doesn’t allow them to get a full drink, its literally like licking a drop of water at a time.

I am not saying to eliminate water bottles completely, some rabbits even when given a bowl will still continue to prefer the bottle. However I highly recommend you give ALL rabbits a water bowl to drink from as it makes it so much easier for them to get hydrated.

My rabbit is constantly getting water everywhere with a bowl!

As you can see here by my thirsty buns, a water bowl is bound to get some water spilled. Sometimes they run right through the water bowl…

Yeah they kind of do that, welcome to the wonderful world of rabbit ownership! There are a few ways you can prevent them from getting water all over the place, one being a heavy enough bowl.

If your rabbit is knocking over the water bowl get a bigger and wider bowl like seen in the video above, if they are having issues with running through the water try to remove any nearby obstacles or put down an absorbent mat under it.

If you have tried these things and your rabbit is still making a mess with their water or if you need to give them water in an enclosure: there are water bowls that clip onto bars of a cage or enclosure that will prevent your rabbit from spilling their water.

Okay I gave my rabbit a water bowl, but now they’re sneezing a lot?

If they drink too fast they can sometimes sneeze from inhaling a little bit of water.

It happens, they are learning to dip their mouth into water and to drink like it was intended, they may sneeze a bit if they get some water in/on their nose, nothing to worry about!

If your rabbit doesn’t get the hang of it and is still sneezing about 3-5 days after the introduction of the bowl this is indicative of other medical issues and it is highly recommend you seek veterinary attention immediately.

Final thoughts…

Water bowls are much easier on a rabbit than a bottle and I would highly recommend you switch over to water bowls. If you are on bottles now it will help your rabbit be able to hydrate more efficiently and you’ll hear a lot less “click, click, click” all the time.


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