Water Bottle or Water Bowl

Deciding the best water source for your rabbit


Hot Cross Buns

2/14/20243 min read

Who knew there were so many things to think about when deciding if your rabbit should drink from a water bottle or a water bowl? There are pros and cons to each option and we're here to help you find the best solution.

Many rabbits are brought up with water bottles hanging (and often dripping) in their cages. What's not to like about them? They're readily available in a variety of sizes, with 32 or 64 oz. bottles being the most common for rabbits, and some styles come with choices for the width of the bottles' mouths - regular or wide. (Pro Tip: The wide mouth options are excellent for hot days when your bunny will appreciate nice cold water.) The water stays clean, you don't have to clean up messy spills, it's usually easy to tell when it needs to be refilled, and you can monitor your bunny's water intake. Easy choice, right?

Not so fast. Yes, there are many positive aspects to selecting a bottle as your rabbit's water source, but there are also some drawbacks. Bottles can be notoriously leaky. You have to hang them at just the right angle and tap the ball at the end of the spout to help it form a proper seal. If neither of these steps are taken, all the water can drip from the spout within a few short hours, leaving your bunny thirsty and without access to water.

Some bottles are notoriously difficult to hang. We have encountered a few styles that we just couldn't figure out how to hang in their provided brackets. Water bottles should not need a user manual. Occasionally we run across a style that is difficult to tell whether it's full or empty. Heaven forbid that the bunny should drink all the water (or that it leaks out) and you neglect to refill the bottle because it appears to be full. This could lead to a very unhappy ending for a dehydrated rabbit.

So, if water bottles have potential risks, that means a water bowl or crock is the best way to go, right? Maybe, maybe not. There are great things about sturdy, crock-style bowls. The main reason to consider using a bowl is that it's a more natural drinking position for a rabbit. If they are comfortable, they will drink more frequently and maintain better hydration. Water bottles, no matter what height they are hung at, force the rabbit to twist its head at an awkward angle to drink properly. A really thirsty rabbit isn't going to sit in that position for very long before getting a kink in its neck. A rabbit will choose a bowl of clean fresh water over a water bottle 99% of the time.

The drawbacks for bowls largely have to do with the rabbit's behavior. A very active rabbit might knock the bowl over during a rambunctious binky session five minutes after her caregiver leaves for a long day of work. He might be a messy hay eater and end up littering his bowl with pieces of hay. She might have lousy aim on the litter box and accidentally contaminate the water bowl with urine or poo balls. In any of these scenarios, the bunny is going to be thirsty and will not have access to fresh drinking water, possibly for many hours.

What's a Bun-lover supposed to do?!?

At Hot Cross Buns, we have solved the problem by giving the Buns access to both a bottle and a bowl, 24/7. This solution allows for the best of both worlds. If the bowl gets knocked over or contaminated, the rabbit can always drink from the bottle. If the water leaks out of the bottle, there is still a bowl of water available. We've never been sorry since taking this approach.

We hope that, rather than making a choice of one over the other, opting to use both a bottle and a bowl will help you raise a happy, healthy Bun!