Today I feel the need to make a comment on a few videos I have seen on the web of rabbits swimming in backyard pools. Someone else on Twitter had seen one too and wondered if this was a good idea. My first immediate reaction is, NO, BAD IDEA!
I spent my teenage years working at a neighborhood pool, taking swimming lessons right up to the advanced level. Then I then began teaching swim classes at the pool and taking water safety, lifesaving and pool management classes. It is very easy to drown. It can happen quite quickly even in a pool full of other people. That is why many pools will have everyone stand at the edge and check the bottom before everyone leaves. I would be as terrified of a rabbit in a pool as putting an infant in a pool. I don’t think either are a good mix.
It can be hard to judge between playful splashing around and someone who is in the first stages of panic. Part of lifesaving teaches how to fight off someone who has gone into full-blown panic and grabs the nearest person potentially causing both to drown. What if the rabbit suddenly panics and tries to bite, claw or climb up someone? Would a child be able to manage without being put at risk themself?
Even if you don’t drown, swallowing water the wrong way can have dire consequences. I knew someone who landed in the ICU and almost died from pneumonia caused from getting just a little water inhaled through a snorkel. Swimmers ear is an unpleasant outer ear infection that often plagues swimmers. This would be something I would see as a huge risk for splashing water around big bunny ears. It is not fun to medicate rabbits, so this isn’t a risk I would want to take.
It isn’t recommended that people with allergies regularly swim, because the pool chemicals can cause sinus, allergy and asthma problems for sensitive individuals. Since rabbits have been used as test animals for cosmetics and such because their sensitivity is similar to sensitive humans, I would see the chemicals as a huge risk for the rabbits too.
When you swim laps in a pool that isn’t the proper temperature you risk muscle cramps if the temperature is too cold and heat exhaustion or stroke if the temperature is too high. Regulating the temperature of a pool for lap swimmers is an important part of pool management. I had one time a pool was too hot for laps, I swam them anyway and ended up quite ill afterwards. Lesson learned on that one and I don’t want to try to figure out what a good temperature needs to be for a rabbit to swim laps.
If all that isn’t enough, there is the fear factor. Some people are deathly afraid of water. I can only imagine how some rabbits would react to suddenly being put in a huge body of water completely outside their experience. I would not want to risk scaring a rabbit to death.