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Water woes

Advice on purchasing or constructing cages and hutches for your rabbitry.
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Water woes

Post Number:#1  Unread postby swaggymama » Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:46 pm


I did a search for posts but the answers didn't much help me...

I'm having a really hard time with water right now.

It's cold where I am. Today is -31* celcius... (-23F) and I struggle with the water bottles / bowls

Right now, what I end up having to do is fill up a small ceramic crock... the buns drink that up immediately while I take their bottles (which are mostly empty, just frozen solid!) and dump those in a sink of hot water to thaw out the spouts... I fill the crocks up a 2nd time and they drink that while I give them the hay / pellets / other veg or fruit.. I end up filling them a 3rd time and go get the bottles to put back in the hutches...

I'm doing this twice a day, sometimes 3x a day - they seem to be drinking thirstily in the morning, but normally in the afternoon... if they appear very excited about the afternoon water, then I will give them more before I go to bed at night.

In total each rabbit is drinking approximately 6-8 ounces of water at least from the crocks, twice a day, and then maybe another 15-20 or so ounces from the bottle... averaging 24-28 ounces of water a day each. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

I know they're supposed to be drinking about 1 liter a day... is it fine that they're drinking 3/4 litre? Their eating hasn't really been affected, they're still pigging out as usual. I have tried different sized crocks, but they keep tipping them over... the smaller ones seem to be the better ones, it's just that i have to refill them... but they don't bother trying to play in them like they do the others.

I don't want to get into bottle warmers or anything like that - my hubby suggested putting the bottle in an old sock or mitten with the spout sticking out... it's the spout that's the issue... anyone have tips / tricks to prevent the spout from freezing almost instantly??

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Re: Water woes

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Nov 22, 2018 2:35 pm


How many cages do you have in use? It has a bearing on how to tackle the issue.

When my rabbits were in cages (I later went to a colony) I found the easiest solution was to use plastic food storage boxes from the dollar store. They come in various sizes and are fairly cheap. You need two per cage, but buy a few extras because they do get damaged now and again.

These boxes nest nicely so you use one inside the other. The first box is the holder. You punch or drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Then you make holes on the side that will be attached to the cage wire, one pair or two depending on the size of your box. Pass a wire through each pair of holes and fasten it securely to the wall of the cage.

The second box is the liner or water container. It sits inside the holder and is easily removed when you want to de-ice it. Put on a pair of rubber gloves or rubberized work gloves and carry down a bucket of fairly hot water. Take out the frozen liner box and put it into the bucket. It will unmould almost instantly and you can refill it from the bucket and replace it in the holder in the cage. Repeat for each cage. If your hands get too cold, hold them gloves and all in the warm water for a couple of minutes for relief.

Your temperatures are more extreme than we get here down by Lake Ontario (south of Trenton) but I think this should still work. You'll still have to water them 2-3 times a day in frigid weather but it will be a lot easier and quicker this way. If you get a rabbit that tends to toss around the liner, a strong clip like you would use on a potato chip bag should be enough to prevent this.

This is a low-tech, low-cost solution that worked really well for me. Hope it does for you as well. Put away your bottles until spring. Without heating, they are going to be a pain in the neck in winter.
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One thing . . . it seems to me your rabbits drink an awful lot of water. I fed mine a natural diet, and I know rabbits on commercial feed need more water, but it still sounds like a lot to me. You might want to discuss this on the forum with those feeding pellets. We have a forum for commerical feeding.
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Re: Water woes

Post Number:#3  Unread postby ladysown » Thu Nov 22, 2018 10:43 pm


South western ontario is where I'm located. feeding pellets and grain mix with some hay.

WOW... your rabbits drink A LOT OF WATER!

My biggest does don't drink that much in the course of a day. perhaps maybe 500 ml, but most (holland lops) drink perhaps a cup of water a day. With the exception of two (but they literally inhale anything I give them).

Soup bowls are what I use for water. Some bigger, some smaller. I fill in the morning, they drink about half of it over the course of the morning, and then I top that up at night and they will drink that top up over the evening. Twice a day only. They can link the ice if they are thirsty and many do.

I melt them using hot water.

For those that want to play I just use heavier crocks. Wafer (my big 17 lb doe) uses a heavy medium dog water crock. I have a smaller meat doe that's a twerp and will play with them if they have a handle on them.
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Re: Water woes

Post Number:#4  Unread postby akane » Fri Nov 23, 2018 4:01 pm


That is a fair amount of water. I think 32oz lasted sometimes 4-5 days even on the larger rabbits in winter with hay, pellets, sometimes grains, and no fresh food. We usually only needed to fill heated 32oz lixits every other day without any ever running empty. Yours might just be so eager for water after not having any and then seeing it keep running out before they feel done that they indulge extra to make sure they get enough. Animals sometimes are driven to use up all they can of a resource if it looks like they might not get enough. They don't have that thought process that it's going to keep sitting there even minutes later if they don't drink or eat it all.

Aside from heated bottles I don't know any way to not freeze a bottle spout. They become useless in winter and we kept moving nearly all of ours to colony with 1 or 5g poultry waters on heated bases. That way we just had to run a power strip or 3 plug cord to the center of 2-3 cage stacks to plug in heated lixits. The electrical was well worth the hassle. Flexible small rubber livestock feeders can be used to flip the ice out immediately and with a better design not to tip but may be too large for even temporarily leaving in some cages. There might be smaller dog bowls of similar material or as many have done just repurposing things that have the right shape to not be flipped over. You can also glue containers to flooring tiles and they won't tip but they will be harder to thaw. You then have to run a stream of hot water or simply take them indoors and rotate them. Not being limited to specific things for dishes and tiles being cents to a couple dollars though it doesn't really matter you need enough to rotate.
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Re: Water woes

Post Number:#5  Unread postby swaggymama » Thu Dec 27, 2018 2:00 pm


Maybe I should have mentioned they're flemish giants and flemish/nz cross? :)

I ended up just buying another set of bottles... It doesn't seem they're drinking that much? If anything, I was worried they were drinking less than required... LOL

I'm using 16oz bottles now - one around 6am, one around 4pm when I get back from work, and one around 9pm before I go to bed. The bottles have about half in them when I switch them out, frozen... so they're still getting about 24-30 ounces a day.

I do have 2 smaller buns, likely polish rabbits... they get a 6 ounce crock filled 3x a day. They have lots of spills. :roll:

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Re: Water woes

Post Number:#6  Unread postby MaggieJ » Thu Dec 27, 2018 4:18 pm


Nothing wrong with an extra set of bottles and switching them out. When we get that really frigid weather (and it's sure to come :( ) You may find they don't have time to drink enough before it freezes, but if that happens you'll be able to tell by the decrease in consumption.

You might want to try my idea (above) for the Polish rabbits. It would help keep them dry, which is especially important in winter. I know your temperatures are a lot more brrrrutal than ours, here by the Lake.
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Re: Water woes

Post Number:#7  Unread postby swaggymama » Fri Dec 28, 2018 1:46 pm


Our Polish are in our garage... their water doesn't really freeze, it starts to... they spill it more than anything.

It's been working out with switching out the bottles so far; their appetite is still really strong, so I'm not really worried; it's a hassle more than anything.

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