Should I Use a Water Bottle or a Water Bowl for My Rabbits?

by Emily Bingham
Water bottle vs water bowl for bunnies - which is better

Are you wondering whether to give your rabbits a water bowl or a bottled water feeder? There’s a lot of debate between the water bowl and bottle feeder options. If you’ve own rabbits before, you may have seen or used both options. But which one is actually better? 

Through my years in owning rabbits, I’ve used both methods and learned quite a lot about both options. In this article, we’ll look at whether you should use a water bowl or bottle feeder for your rabbits. Keep reading to find out the best way to give your rabbit water. 

Why Hydration Is Crucial for Rabbits

Rabbits normally drink up to 150 ml per 2.2 pounds (1kg) of body weight a day. Obviously, given that calculation, this means that larger breeds like the French Lop or Flemish Giant will drink much more than a Netherland Dwarf or Mini Lop. So, you’ll make sure that you have a properly sized bottle or bowl for the amount of water they’ll need to drink.

Your pet rabbits need constant access to clean water. Beyond hydrating the body, water provides essential lubrication for the digestive system and other organs like the liver, kidneys, and bladder. 

Rabbits can dehydrate quickly, especially if they’re stressed. So, it’s extremely important that whatever watering method you choose, that your rabbit always has fresh water available. 

Using a Bottled Water Feeder for Your Rabbits

Water bottle for rabbits

Using a bottle feeder is often cleaner and somewhat easier than a water bowl, nothing is without flaws. Let’s look at the pros and cons of using a bottled water feeder for your bunnies. 

Pros

As mentioned, bottle feeders are typically lower maintenance than water dishes. They are easier to keep clean, and they cause less water waste or spoilage if the water gets stuff in it.  Here are some of the benefits of using a bottled water feeder for your rabbits. 

  • Bottles are cleaner: Rabbits can make a lot with mess water bowls, whether it’s tipping them over or messing up their bedding. So, having a bottled water feeder for your rabbits is much cleaner than a water bowl. You won’t have to wash them out as often as a water bowl, but it should still be done at least once a week. 
  • There’s less waste: There’s less water waste when you use a bottle as opposed to a water bottle. This is because your rabbit can’t tip it over, and even if they come off, it won’t spill everywhere. Your rabbits can’t dump the bottle or get the water inside dirty, so it doesn’t need to be cleaned as often either.  

Cons

As clean and low-maintenance as bottled water feeders are, they do have cons as well. Let’s look at some of the downsides of opting for a bottle feeder for your pet rabbits. 

  • It’s awkward for rabbits to use: Drinking from a bottle isn’t natural for rabbits. Having their head and neck tilted upward is really awkward positioning that can cause damage in later years, especially because they have to drink for longer. This is especially if you don’t put it at the right height. If it’s high enough to keep their neck straight, then it’s better. 
  • Less water distribution: Bottled water feeders only let your bunny drink one drop of water at a time, which can become tedious, even for a thirsty rabbit. This also means that your bunny spends longer trying to drink an adequate amount of water with its head in an awkward position. 
  • Bottles can get clogged: Another downside to giving your rabbits water from a bottle feeder is that the ball can get stuck, and the spout can get clogged easily. Rabbits that go back and forth while eating and drinking can will cause a buildup of kibble residue that can cause the ball to get stuck or for the spout to clog. It can also happen if the spout isn’t cleaned properly. 

Using a Water Bowl for Your Rabbits

Water bowl for rabbits

Water bowls are more common and typically better for pet rabbits, especially if there’s more than one. However, water bowls constantly have to be refilled or cleaned out because they’re so easily dumped. Let’s talk more about the benefits and downfalls of water dishes. 

Pros

Water bowls tend to be the favorites of the two options. It’s said that most rabbits actually prefer the water bowl over the bottle. Here are some pros to having a water bowl for your bunnies. 

  • Easier to drink from: Earlier, we talked about the awkward head positioning that a bottle feeder can cause. Water dishes and bowls are much easier for a rabbit to drink out of. Not to mention they can drink water freely, instead of one drop at a time.
  • Water is fresher: Water dishes usually need to be filled up or washed out more often than bottle feeders. And, while this may seem annoying, it does mean that because the water is constantly being refilled and rabbits drink more from a bowl at a given time, the water is typically fresher.  

Cons

Even if a water bowl is easy on your bunny, it has its downfalls like having to be cleaned way more often, especially if you’re rabbits are particularly rambunctious and tip their bowls. Let’s talk about the cons of using a water bowl for your rabbits instead of a bottle feeder.

  • Need to be cleaned and refilled more often: One of the downsides to having a water bowl for your rabbits is the fact that you’ll need to fill and clean it more often. Not only because they may get tipped or get dirty, but also because your rabbit will drink more. 
  • Easy to dump or get messy: Unless you get really heavy stone water bowls, they’re really easy to tip over, which will leave your rabbit without water until you notice the dumped dish. If your rabbits make a habit out of it, it can add up quite a bit of water and bedding waste.  Also, when rabbits drink their backwash will leave a film in the bowl that will need to be washed daily.

Conclusion 

Bottles are more convenient for us pet parents, but they generally aren’t that convenient for rabbits. As mentioned, studies have shown that when given the choice of both bottled water feeder and water bowl, rabbits generally opt for the water bowl.  

Of course, not all rabbits are the same. Rabbits that are used to the bottled water feeder may be more likely to stick with what they know and never sway. Personally, I use both options. My younger rabbit Chile prefers the bottle over the bowl and does quite frequently tip both his food and water dishes. However, my older rabbit prefers the bowl. 

I find that it’s best to start by giving them both options, even if they haven’t been exposed to one of them before. That way, your rabbit will have access to water, if they’re bowl tippers. After a while, you’ll notice whatever way they prefer, and you can give them what they want. As long as you’re giving your rabbit what they need, you’re always making the right choice.   

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