What can rabbits do all day long without a drop of sweat? They can hop all they want without getting exhausted.
But what else can these furry friends do? Can rabbits swim?
If you are a rabbit owner, old or new, this question might have crossed your mind. If we talk about the rabbit’s ability to swim, we can instantly say that rabbits can swim.
Do rabbits like to take the plunge? Do they take pleasure in swimming? Read on and let’s find out more about this.
Can Rabbits Swim?
The rabbit’s fore and hind legs enable them to move and glide through the water. As far as technicality is concerned, rabbits can swim.
Still, they will not do it with complete grace and speed.
If a predator is chasing a rabbit down into a lake, the rabbit will swim to escape from being an instant meal.
Yes, they can swim but most likely if they feel threatened or feel the need to protect themselves. So if you are thinking of planning a swimming party for your pet, you might have to think twice.
Take note that one rabbit is different from the other. Some rabbits are capable of gliding through the waves but some are less adept.
Rabbits who live near the water have more developed swimming skills than domesticated rabbits.
A swamp rabbit in the southeastern parts of the United States may have adjusted to swimming in wet habitats such as marshes and wetlands.
Another fun and silly fact about the rabbit is its ability to play dead.
They can pretend to be dead by being still in the water when it senses danger. This is similar to camouflage.
If you are lucky, you can even catch it poking out its nose to breathe while being in the water. To help them camouflage, rabbits prefer to live near scrubs or other plants and debris.
What if I force the rabbit to swim?
We know that rabbits can swim but they will not do it out of fun or pleasure. Most likely, rabbits will swim because of their instinct to avoid any predator or threat.
Your pet rabbit will not like it if you push it to go for a swim in your backyard swimming pool.
It might be a pleasant sight for you but take note that if you push harder, things can go out of hand.
The most practical reason why we cannot force a rabbit to swim is the nature of its skin and coat. A rabbit’s coat is very absorbent.
It is easily soaked in water like a big sponge. This makes their coat dry up for a very long time.
If their coat stays wet for a long time, it can lead to skin problems.
When the rabbit’s skin has been irritated, it makes is sensitive to tearing, crusting, redness, or even an unwanted infection. You don’t want your pet rabbit to feel discomfort.
Another serious thing to watch out for if you force your rabbit to swim is shock. System shock could lead to a breakdown or damage in the nervous system of the rabbit.
A more severe case could be a heart attack.
Most rabbits prefer their surroundings dry, and they like to stay dry too. If you suddenly soak your innocent rabbit in the pool, even for a while, it might lead to a shock.
Training Your Rabbit to Do Awesome Tricks
Some people think that training rabbits to do tricks is not possible.
Yet if you understand the psychology of animals, they can learn. Any species of animals, for that matter, are trainable if given patience and time.
You can go as far as training your little bunny to do its nasty business in a litter box, which makes cleaning up easier.
Knowing Your Rabbit
The thing to always remember about training your cotton-tailed friend is to understand what motivates it and how to let it know that it did something right.
Trainers use reinforcers to teach animals that they did something right.
In training a dog, the reinforcer is a doggie treat, a tennis ball, or a doggie toy.
With rabbits, food should be your best reinforcer. Not the food you usually feed it like pellets, but something you will consider as “special.”
Here are some suggestions:
· Bell peppers
· Broccoli stems
· Brussel sprouts
Rabbits also enjoy eating leafy green vegetables lie cilantro, basil, broccoli leaves, and kale. Some may be harder to chop and give out as reinforcers.
When training your rabbit or any animals, it is crucial to keep your reinforcers small and easy to handle because timing is important when giving rewards for good behavior.
To make the good behavior clear to your rabbit, be sure to make it in bite-size pieces since it will chew it quickly.
If you make it a bigger piece, your rabbit might take time eating it and wouldn’t connect the reinforcer to the good behavior.
Give it “jackpots” when your rabbit does something you wanted it to do. The jackpots are larger treats, to clue it in it is doing well.
Keeping it small keeps your rabbit from getting an upset stomach. If you give it large treats during a particular training session, it might have diarrhea.
Test out your treats the first days before the training. You want your rabbit to be alert and active in training and not having diarrhea because of a bad reinforcer.
“Marking” Your Rabbit’s Behavior
“Clicker Training” is what professionals do when training animals. They use a “marker,” which is a clicker that let an animal know that they did something correctly.
A clicker will work great with your rabbit. Verbal markers will also work, like “okay!” or “yes!”
Timing is crucial. Hold the clicker in one hand and the treat in the other.
When the rabbit does a good behavior, click it immediately and give it a treat.
If you’re using a verbal marker, say it in a happy and excited tone, then give it a treat.
Eventually, your rabbit will get used to the course of action. When it does good behavior, 80% of the time, you don’t need to use the marker anymore. Give the treats randomly, and it will understand.
You can also do “shaping.” It means breaking down the behavior into small step-by-step processes. You will be marking/clicking small movements towards good behavior, rather than the overall behavior itself.
As a rabbit owner, you should know your rabbit and work at its level.
Shyer rabbits take longer to teach. So always be patient and keep your sessions short and fun.
Your Rabbit’s Name
You can teach your rabbit to recognize its name. It is a helpful lesson to learn for future tricks since it is a way to get its attention.
Before teaching the trick, choose an open space where your rabbit can roam freely.
Sit down almost close to your rabbit’s level. Pull out the treat in one hand so your rabbit can see it.
When the rabbit goes to you, say out its name, and give the treat.
Wait for your rabbit to move away from you, or you be the one to move.
Say its name out loud again before giving the treat. If your rabbit quickly comes to you, mark the behavior and give it a treat.
Repeat the whole process. Do it a few times each day, for five minutes each time.
Calling Your Rabbit to Come to You
After teaching your rabbit its name, coming when called is the next step. It is a useful trick when you’re outside with your rabbit, and you need it to come to you quickly for some reason.
Sit down close to your rabbit’s level, a few feet away.
Prepare your treat in one hand and your clicker in the other.
Call out its name and hold out the treat in front where it can see it.
When it approaches you, mark the behavior and hand it a treat.
When it approaches you, say the word “come.” Be sure to always say it so it can associate it with the action of approaching you.
Repeat the process. Do a few times a day, five minutes each time.
After many days of doing this, you can eventually stop marking and just give rewards. Give a jackpot if it is consistent.
After you’ve taught these basic tricks to your pet rabbit, you’ll probably love doing it and want to teach it more cool tricks.
Just remember that your rabbit always needs positive reinforcement, even outside training sessions. It’s also a great way to bond with your rabbit and develop a strong relationship. Always be patient and have lots of fun!
The final word on swimming rabbits
Your fluffy friend can swim for survival reasons. With the handy guide I have mentioned above, you can now decide if the plunge is worth it for your rabbit.