Rabbits are by far one of the most popular pocket pets. Who can resist feeding these cute little friends some sweet treats like juicy cucumber. But wait…. not all foods are safe for rabbits! Can rabbits eat cucumber?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
What Are Rabbits?
Rabbits and bunnies are small mammals that hop around from place to place.
They are commonly seen as pets with their sweet eyes, floppy ears, furry faces, and cute whiskers.
Rabbits come in many colors, shapes, and sizes, most commonly seen in shades of white, brown, black, and patches or combinations of those colors.
They can be seen with a large ear for their body size and even have long-eared varieties with even larger drooping ears.
Rabbits have long incisors (front teeth) that are constantly growing and needing to be filed either naturally or by the help of some intervention, both discussed further into this article.
What Do Rabbits Need From a Healthy Diet?
A well-balanced rabbit diet will need to deliver a multitude of things to the bunny ingesting it.
Just like humans, rabbits need the right combination of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and water to keep their organs working and functioning properly.
However, the daily nutritional requirements for a rabbit differ quite greatly from that of a human, and that is reflected in the common diet that most healthy and happy pet rabbits eat.
What Does a Typical Rabbit Diet Consist of?
An adult rabbit’s main source of food in their diet should come mostly from high-quality hay.
Hay is a forage that is low in calories and high in fiber, easy on the rabbit’s digestive system.
Other pieces of the rabbit’s diet may include commercial pellets and/or treats and snacks such as fruits and vegetables.
However, not all fruits and vegetables are safe for your bunny to have.
Let’s Talk Cucumber…
Cucumbers are a long, green fruit that is typically seen and used more as a vegetable in the United States, than a fruit.
They are commonly placed into categories like pickling cucumbers, seedless cucumbers, or slicing cucumbers, depending on their use.
Cucumbers are grown on a vine that trails the ground and can climb up a trellis with its tendrils, when given the opportunity.
Cucumbers have a thick, waxy-like outer rind, and change from a white or yellow color, to green when ripe.
The center of the fruit is more tender and has a mildly sweet taste.
Cucumber has a high water content and is used in a lot of cool dishes and recipes, like many salads, especially in the warmer summer months here in the states.
Livescience.com states that cucumber:
“Cucumbers are naturally low in calories, carbohydrates, sodium, fat and cholesterol…..”https://www.livescience.com/51000-cucumber-nutrition.html
Verywellfit.com describes a more detailed description of cucumber nutrition as:
“Cucumbers are crisp and refreshing, due to their high percentage of water. However, with 95% water content, you may be wondering whether cucumbers have much to offer by way of nutrition. Along with potassium, beta carotene, and vitamin K, cucumbers have several phytochemicals with promising health benefits.“https://www.verywellfit.com/cucumber-nutrition-facts-calories-and-health-benefits-4118563
- Lower or Higher Nutrient Contents: High in good things like water and lower in things that could be harmful, such as carbs and calories!
- Inflammation/Antioxidants: Multiple studies show that cucumbers are a great source of anti-inflammatory compounds that help in fighting against inflammation.
- Vitamins: A cucumber contains vitamin C and K. Rabbits need vitamins to stay healthy and to allow their bodies to function properly. Vitamin C helps bunnies stay safe and adequately protected from diseases and strengthens their immune system.
High Water Content:
With a high water content, you can be sure that there is only so much room for other unhealthy items… and cucumbers don’t have much in the form of unhealthy components.
High water content may help your little friend stay hydrated.
Low in Calories/Fat/Carbohydrates:
Rabbits and other pocket pets are prone to weight gain and obesity.
Lower calorie, lower fat, and/or lower carb foods will help keep these issues at bay.
The easiest way to combat weight gain in your rabbit is to not let them eat the weight in the first place!
Vitamins and Minerals:
The vitamins and minerals contained in cucumbers are al very important for your rabbit in moderation.
For instance, vitamin K is essential when it comes to blood clotting. Without it, your rabbit would die. This vitamin may also be helpful in your pet’s bone health.
Multiple research studies have shown that cucumbers are a source of anti-inflammatory compounds, which effectively can help fight different forms of inflammation found inside the body.
As mentioned above, cucumbers contain these potential anti-inflammatory molecules called antioxidants.
Antioxidants are thought to help reduce inflammation inside the body by binding (attaching) to and suppressing (decreasing) inflammation-promoting molecules known as free radicals. [source]
Can Rabbits Eat Cucumber?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of cucumber brings with it , wouldn’t it be nice it you could just safely feed it to your rabbit?
Well, you can…. in moderation.
That’s right, feeding a small amount of cucumber as a treat to your rabbit on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Moderation = Approximately a tablespoon-sized amount of cucumber is enough cucumber for one rabbit.
If you have a smaller rabbit or a dwarf variety, cut the teaspoon on half and just give your smaller rabbit no more than 1/2 tablespoon-worth of seedless cucumber per week as a treat.
If your pet does not eat all of their fruits and vegetables within 12-24 hours, then you need to dispose of it for them.
They will likely not eat it, and it will only sit in their cage and get old and eventually become unsafe to eat.
The rest of their diet, the other 90 or so percent, should be made up of rabbit food and hay.
You should feed this amount no more than once per week and no two days in a row.
How To Feed Cucumber to Rabbits:
- 1 ripe, fresh cucumber
- 1 kitchen produce knife
- cutting board
- Begin by washing the vegetables thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the cucumber.
- Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem.
- You don’t have to peel the cucumber but if you have a pickier rabbit that eats around the skin then you can peel it if you feel compelled.
- Cut the cucumber into thin slices or small bite-sized cubes.
- Remove any uneaten cucumber from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on it.
Contact your veterinarian before changing parts of your pet's diet. Stop the feeding of zucchini immediately and contact your veterinarian if any signs of ill health appear.
How About Cucumber Seeds?
And then there are the seeds. Most rabbits will not have any issue eating the seeds so you can leave the seeds on the cucumber pieces.
If you are worried about your rabbit choking on seeds, then don’t feed cucumber seeds to your rabbit. Either remove them before offering up cucumber pieces, or feed your rabbit a seedless cucumber variety.
Can Rabbits Eat Pickles?
No, you should never feed your rabbit a pickle.
Pickles are made with ingredients such as vinegar and spices, that can be very harmful to your pet. never offer them a pickle, even a small piece of one!
Is Cucumber Harmful to Rabbits?
Before we can decide whether cucumbers are safe to feed our rabbits, we need to first understand some of the risks involved if we do feed our pets cucumbers.
Yes, cucumbers can be.
Remember that too much cucumber fed to these little buddies can give them side effects like an upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
This can lead to a multitude of problems including things like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that could impart a trip to the veterinary clinic for your pocket pet vet to fix.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t have any concerns with feeding your rabbit cucumber, because there are a few key things to keep in mind.
These three factors to keep in mind include:
Harmful Reason #1: Loose Stool/Diarrhea
Too much of any fruit or vegetable can produce hypermotile, or increased movement, of one’s digestive tract.
Some rabbits are more sensitive to additional foods or changes in their diets, so they are more likely to have loose stool and in some cases, full-blown diarrhea.
Other rabbits will not be impacted by any additional changes in their diets.
Harmful Reason #2: Allergic Reaction to Cucumbers
A rabbit can develop an intolerance or an allergy to any food, so there is always the possibility that your pet is allergic to cucumbers.
If you suspect your rabbit is allergic to cucumbers do NOT feed this food to your pet.
If your rabbit is allergic to cucumbers and accidentally ingests it, go to your nearest animal emergency room immediately.
When this happens, the attack sets off a hypersensitivity reaction and can result in any of the following symptoms:
Common symptoms of adverse/allergic reaction to food:
- Itching/Increased grooming
Can Rabbits Eat Cucumber Peel?
Another issue is the peel or rind…….
The thick peel needs to be served in small pieces and small amounts to your pet or it can become a digestive issue for them.
Cucumber rind can be served to your rabbit. The lighter fleshy center of the fruit is easier for your pet to chew and ingest than the outermost green, thick and tough rind.
These servings of cucumber rind should be done in moderation, as the cucumber rind contains fiber which, if too much is ingested at one time, can cause diarrhea as well.
What About Cucumber Juice?
You should not offer your rabbit cucumber juice. This is because cucumber juice has a high sugar content, which is not going to be good for your pet.
High sugar content can cause diarrhea, obesity, etc., creating more problems than good. No cucumber juice for your rabbit please!
Alternative Foods For Rabbits:
Weigh the pros and cons of feeding cucumber to your bunny before tossing them a refreshing and juicy snack, and if you do decide to give them a treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.
If you have questions about your pet’s diet, contact your veterinarian before changing or adding items to their diet.
If you notice any adverse reactions after feeding your pet, let your vet know immediately for help.