Water for Rabbits: How Much They Need, Bowls vs. Bottles and Beyond

By: Wendy Rose GouldUpdated:

Photo of a rabbit drinking water from a bowl
Irina Orlova/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Water for Rabbits: How Much They Need, Bowls vs. Bottles and Beyond

You already know that your bunny needs a steady stream of fresh water to feel their best, but do you know all the ways water helps their body function? Ahead, we’re answering all your water-related questions, including how much these small pets need; what sort of containers are ideal; tips on keeping their water fresh; and signs of dehydration.

How Water Helps Your Bunny

Water is an essential part of rabbit care, and it impacts your rabbit’s health in many different and surprising ways. Here are some of the top reasons it’s so crucial that they get enough water every day.

  • Aids in digestion: A rabbit’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract is essentially a “fermentation vat of plant matter,” notes Micah Woods, DVM, an exotic pets veterinarian at Ooltewah Veterinary Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. As such, water plays an integral role in their digestive system. “Without enough water, the food material could be thick and unable to move normally through the GI tract,” he says.
  • Fosters cardiovascular health: As with all mammals, getting the proper amount of hydration enables a rabbit's heart to function at its maximum potential.
  • Promotes kidney function: Rabbit diets are high in protein and calcium, which makes them more prone to developing kidney stones and bladder stones. It also makes rabbit urine quite thick compared to other animals. “Without adequate hydration, their urine—which is already a more thick and concentrated urine—turns into a sludge, slimy material,” Woods says.
  • Regulates their temperature: Pet rabbits may be prone to overheating—particularly in hot weather—because of their dense fur and limited sweat glands. Water helps regulate their body temperature, which minimizes their risk of heatstroke and dehydration.
Photo of a rabbit drinking water from a bottle
Inna Reznik/iStock/Getty Images Plus

How Much Water Do Rabbits Need?

Rabbits should drink approximately 50-150 milliliters of water per kilogram of body weight daily, says Woods—that translates to about 1-2 ounces per pound. However, the amount of water a rabbit drinks ultimately depends on their size, age, environmental temperature and activity level. If they’re larger, very active or it’s hot, they’ll need more.

How To Give Water to Your Rabbit

It's essential for rabbits to have access to fresh, clean water at all times to meet their hydration needs. Monitoring water consumption and providing ample water sources can help ensure rabbits stay healthy and hydrated. Some pet parents provide water in water bottles; others use water bowls. So what’s the best way to give your rabbit water?

“There is plenty of research that has shown that water bowls are the ideal way of providing water,” Woods says. That’s because it’s easier for rabbits to drink from a bowl than a water bottle, because they don’t naturally look upwards.

When choosing a bowl, Woods recommends picking one made from a no-chew material to prevent nibbling, and with a wide base to prevent tipping.

Kaytee Vege-T-Bowl Carrot Small Pet Bowl
Living World Lock & Crock Dish
One downside of water bowls is that they tend to make a mess, and can easily become contaminated with fecal material or urine. Rabbits with a prominent dewlap (aka their adorable double chin) may benefit from using bottles, because wetness on the dewlap from drinking from a bowl can lead to skin infections. Also, it may be easier to track consumption with water bottles compared to bowls. Consider providing both at one time to determine which one they’re more inclined to drink.
Lixit Wide Mouth Small Animal Water Bottle

Temporarily out of stock

Choco Nose No-Drip Small Animal Water Bottle

Tips on Keeping Your Rabbit’s Water Fresh

Providing your pet rabbit with water is the first step in helping them stay hydrated, but you’ll also want to ensure that water remains clean and fresh.

To do so, wash your rabbit’s water bowl or bottle with mild soap and water daily. This helps prevent the buildup of algae, bacteria and other contaminants. Rabbit keepers will need to use a bottle brush to clean small bottles. Give them a fresh supply of water every time you clean the water dishes.

It’s also a good idea to place your rabbit’s water bowl on a water stand, or to secure the water bottle to the side of the cage. Elevating the water can help prevent contamination from bedding material or droppings.

Ways To Encourage Your Rabbit To Drink Water

Along with providing access to clean water, here are some additional ways pet parents can encourage bunny hydration:

  1. Provide multiple water sources: Place water bottles or bowls in different areas of your rabbit's enclosure. This ensures easy access; allows them to choose what method they prefer; and provides a backup option just in case.
  2. Add some greens: “I have had some owners report they put some fresh greens from their meals to float in the water,” Dr. Woods says. Not all rabbits like this tactic, though, so watch your rabbit after you put greens in their water to make sure it’s not deterring them from drinking.
  3. Try fresh pineapple juice: “In some long-haired breeds, it can be recommended to put a small amount of pineapple juice in the water,” Dr. Woods says. “Being acidic, it helps prevent hairballs by breaking them down. More times than not, these owners also report this entices their rabbits to drink.” Be sure to use fresh pineapple juice, not canned, and use just a small amount, as too much fruit juice can contribute to obesity and dental problems in rabbits.
  4. Keep it clean: Always clean your rabbit’s water dish to prevent buildup of bacteria and contaminants. It’ll taste better and be healthier for them.

Dehydration in Rabbits

Dehydration in rabbits is a serious matter that can result in organ failure and even death. Because of their small size, limited sweat glands and dense fur, they are prone to overheating and dehydration.

Symptoms of dehydration in rabbits include:

  • Reduced or no urination
  • Very thick, sludgelike urine
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Reduced appetite
  • Elevated heart rate

If you suspect your bunny is dehydrated, offer fresh, clean water immediately and seek veterinary care.

FAQ About Water for Rabbits


What kind of water can rabbits drink?

A:Tap water is completely fine for bunnies, but many rabbit parents prefer to give their pets filtered water.


Do wild rabbits need to drink water?

A:Wild rabbits need water to survive. While they primarily get their moisture from vegetation and dew, they do drink water when available. They may seek more water sources in very hot weather.


How do I stop my rabbit’s water bottle from leaking at the drinking tip?

A:To prevent your rabbit's water bottle from leaking at the drinking tip, ensure it's securely attached and not overtightened. Also double-check for damage around the seal, and try adjusting the positioning. Cleaning the bottle often can help ensure it doesn’t drip. Consider replacing worn-out parts if it’s an easy fix, or simply purchase a new bottle.

Water consumption is imperative for your cute bunny. Always keep an eye on your rabbit's water intake, and refill the bottle or bowl as needed to ensure an adequate supply. Looking for more rabbit care tips? We’ve got you covered.

Expert input provided by Micah Woods, DVM, an exotic pets veterinarian at Ooltewah Veterinary Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

This content was medically reviewed by Chewy vets.


By: Wendy Rose GouldUpdated: