How much water should a rabbit drink in 24 hours?
(Grand Rapids, MI )
Our new bunny to be - a rescue rabbit.
How much water does the average rabbit (4 lbs.) drink in a day? Is it a sign of illness if they drink 32 oz. or more in 24 hours?
***** Karen Sez *****
The normal rate of water consumption is approximately 100-600 ml per day, or 50-100 ml per 1 kg body weight daily. In American terms, that means a healthy rabbit will drink about 1/4 - 1/3 cups of water for every 2 pounds of body weight. At 4 pounds, your rabbit will drink about 1/2 - 1 cup daily, in moderate weather. If your rabbit is somewhere hot and dry, it will naturally drink more water.
That said, water is not something that rabbit owners should ration. Provide water 24/7, but just know that if a 4-pound rabbit is actually drinking 4 cups (32 oz) of water every 24 hours, I would wonder if there is something very wrong metabolically with the rabbit. I recommend consulting a rabbit savvy vet before you make a final decision or bring this rabbit home.
Or, is the water bottle leaking?
I like the idea of rescuing rabbits. However, a huge caveat to adopting rescue pets in general (and rabbits in particular) is that they quite often will have health issues which will require both personal care by the owner and expensive medical care. You are making the wise decision to educate yourself about the rabbit’s health issues before adopting. Consulting with the vet will give you a realistic picture of whether or not this is the right rabbit for your family.
Many people adopt a rescue with health issues, and then find themselves unable to provide the care the animal needs. While those people may mean well initially, it can quickly become cruel to the animal. The animal will have a low quality of life because they are in pain or non-functional, until the owner either sends the pet back to the shelter (where the process is repeated) or it dies a prolonged death from its health issues. Sometimes, the most humane thing one can do for a seriously ill animal is to euthanize it, rather than prolong its suffering. In the wild, sick rabbits become food for predators. While this may be shocking to urban dwellers, it is the natural cycle of life.
Once you consult the vet, have a serious discussion about the care the rabbit will need, and if you will realistically provide it. Ask the difficult question: “Would euthanasia be more humane?” If you will not be able to provide the extra care needed, then it will be better to find a healthy rabbit from a shelter or breeder. If you find yourself in a similar situation with another rescue, a breeder may be the best option.
Finally, the sentiment of “adopt, don’t shop” isn’t always practical or wise. Rescue rabbits often have health issues and an unknown history. On the other hand, rabbit breeders will have records of individual rabbits and will have been screening their herds for generations, winnowing out sick rabbits and breeding the healthy ones. Breeders help ensure healthy rabbits for future generations by only allowing the best and healthiest animals to reproduce.