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Can Rabbits Swim?



Rabbits CAN swim.

More Info: Rabbits are accomplished swimmers. Marsh rabbits, a species of rabbit found mainly in the Eastern and Southeastern regions of the United States, are exceptionally strong swimmers and will use swimming as a primary form of locomotion. Cottontail rabbits have also been known to swim, especially when they are fleeing from pursuers or perceived threats. Domestic rabbits may be able to swim, but there is much more variation with domestic species than with wild species and certain domestic rabbits may find themselves unready to handle the water.

Rabbits and Water

Rabbits have no difficulty navigating small bodies of water. They have been documented to use water to escape pursuit or to travel short distances. Wild rabbits are almost completely nocturnal, so swimming behavior is not commonly observed. However, rabbit swimming has been comprehensively documented and rabbits are known to navigate swamps, ponds, and rivers. There are no documented occurrences of rabbits swimming in salt water, but there is no overwhelming reason why they could not. Rabbits can swim in saline pools without apparent harm, and ocean water is not substantially different.

Dangers to Rabbits in Swimming

Rabbits are very sensitive to toxins and chemicals. This means that rabbits should never be placed into chlorinated or polluted water. Rabbits also panic easily, so if they are startled or frightened while swimming they can drown. This is less common with wild rabbits. There are few natural predators of rabbits in the water, and their predators from the land or air are often unable to reach them while they are swimming. However, rabbits have evolved to use stillness and camouflage to hide from predators. This is completely ineffective while swimming, so if a rabbit encounters a predator or a frightening occurrence in the water then they are unlikely to react appropriately.




“Mammals – Everglades National Park.” U.S. National Park Service – Experience Your America. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.

“eastern cottontail.” FCPS Home Page Redirect Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.

“ACE Basin Species Gallery: Marsh Rabbit.” South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.

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