Rabbit Water: Bottles & Bowls
Rabbits should have constant access to water. The amount they drink varies greatly depending on the environment and their diet.
Rabbits fed fresh foods or allowed to graze on grass will obtain much of their water requirement from this and may drink up 50% less than rabbits only fed on dry foods. Rabbits may also drink more in hot weather.
Rabbits should be given pure water to drink. This may seem boring to humans used to a wide range of beverages but it is the most natural and healthy option. Be wary of vitamins added to the water which may incourage your rabbit to drink excessively. If you find your rabbit empties it's bowl/bottle after vitamins are added then refill the with plain water until the following day. Excess water and excess vitamins can effect your rabbits health.
The only exception to this rule is for sick rabbits at risk of dehydration when a small amount of pure unsweatened apple or carrot juice added to the water may encourage drinking.
Rabbit Water Bottles
A 600ml water bottle should provide adaquate water for two rabbits for 24 hrs. In summer you may want to consider a second bottle which provides a back up incase the water runs out and also if the bottle is knocked off. This is particularly useful if you work or are out during the day and unable to check on your rabbits.
Classic Water Bottle Spout (left),
Sippy Spout (right)
There are two types of spout. The standard type are composed of a metal tube with several balls inside. Gravaity locks the ball in the end of the tube until the rabbit it licks it pushing the ball up and allowing water to fall past. These bottles are cheap and readily available but they can be prone to leaking and some rabbits also find them frustrating and will bite & pull at the ends. If you go for this varity look for the opaque brands made of softer plastic as these are more durable that the clear plastic bottles which may shatter if dropped or iced up.
The other variety have a non drip sippy spout. These are also quieter so great if your rabbit is near your bedroom at you don't want to be woken in the middle of the night. The wider tops make filling & cleaning easier. They do tend to be more expensive to purchase but are very durable. The John Hopewell Ezi-Filla Bottles of this type are excellent.
Bicycle Water Bottle Cage
Most bottles are sold with a simple wire with hocks bent at the end to attach them to the cage/hutch mesh. Whilst these work they can be difficult to get on and off and position correctly to secure the bottle. A bottle spring (£2 from ebay), which is a spring with a hock each end which can be pulled back to slide the bottle in and out, makes changing water easier.
If you need to attach a bottle in an area when there is no mesh the you can use bottle holders designed for cyclists. You will need to take a bottle with you to test to get the correct size.
Keep in mind that attaching the bottle on the inside where you rabbit has access means that they are susceptible to chewing.
Left: Trixie Therm'o'Drink
Bottle Cover (£3.75 via Ebay)
Right: Scratch 'n Newton
Bottle Snug (£8 via Amazon)
Bottles can be cleaned using a bottle brush. A more thorough cleaning can be done using sterilizing tablets sold for use on babies bottles. This type of cleaning should be done on any second hand bottles before use.Algae requires light for growth so you can prevent build up by placing an opaque cover over it. This does have the draw back of making it difficult to see the water level at a glance.
In winter water bottles are prone to freezing. Fitting an insulated cover helps to prevent this. You can buy these or make your own using bubble wrap and an old wooly sock.
A water bowl is undoubtably a more natural way to drink and many rabbits will use them in preferance to a bottle. The downside is it is very easy for them to become soiled with bedding and litter, and can also be knocked over. Bowls work best if your rabbit is indoors or you have room to place a bowl away from lose bedding/food or you are available to change the water regularly during the day. You can also provide both a bottle and a bowl so your rabbit has the option and a back up if they knock over their bowl.
Bowls that clip to the side of the cage (called Coop Cups) are sold for birds and are useful if your rabbit knocks its bowl over (or throws it). Raising the bowl also help to keep it clean.
Heavy ceramic bowls are most rabbit-proof as plastic ones are often picked up and thrown around as toys. Bewary of placing ceramic bowls on a high level eg a second floor where they can be nudged over and broken.
Left to Right: Ceramic Water Bowl, Coop Cup, Water Bottle