Rabbits are one of the most loveable of all pocket pets, it’s easy to want to give them human foods we enjoy, like tasty pumpkin! However, many human foods are not safe for rabbits to eat. So, can rabbits eat pumpkin? Dr. Jess explains it all 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.
Bunnies 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 Pumpkin!
Pumpkin is a winter squash that grows along a vine on the ground.
It is in the Cucurbitaceae plant family and is actually considered a fruit just like spaghetti squash, melons, and cucumber.
It can range in color from yellows to vibrant tan, orange, greens, whites, and creams on the outside and a softer pulp and slippery seeds on the inside.
The typical pumpkin is round or oval in shape, with a curved stem still attached to the top of the squash.
This variable-shaped squash is treated as a vegetable in most U.S. cooking groups and is a popular “vegetable” served alongside main courses, typically canned, pureed, or roasted for human consumption.
According to Wikipedia’s description of the nutritional benefits of pumpkin:
In a 100-gram amount, raw pumpkin provides 110 kilojoules (26 kilocalories) of food energy and is an excellent source (20% or more the Daily Value, DV) of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A (53% DV) (table). Vitamin C is present in moderate content (11% DV), but no other nutrients are in significant amounts (less than 10% DV, table). Pumpkin is 92% water, 6.5% carbohydrate, 0.1% fat and 1% protein (table).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumpkin
Pumpkin has quite a large supply of vitamin A that can help support vision and your pet rabbit’s immune system.
It also contains another important vitamin, vitamin C.
Vitamin C is an extremely important vitamin for rabbits to have in their diets.
Pumpkin is also rich in different antioxidants [source].
Antioxidants are plant compounds that help protect the body from damage by free radicals, which can cause degenerative diseases.
Pumpkin also has a decent amount of fiber to help with digestion and can sometimes help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Can Rabbits Eat Pumpkin?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of pumpkin brings with it, wouldn’t it be nice it you could just safely feed it to your rabbit? Can rabbits eat pumpkin?
Well, you can…. in moderation.
That’s right, feeding a small amount of pumpkin as a treat to your rabbit on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Moderation = A couple little cubes of pumpkin, equivalent to 1-2 tablespoons is enough for one adult rabbit. Baby bunnies should not be fed pumpkin.
In total, your bunny should have around 10% of their diet made up of fresh fruits and vegetables combined everyday, and no more than that.
If your pet does not eat all of their helping of 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 these few small pieces of pumpkin no more than 1-2 times per week and no two days in a row.
Do Bunnies Like Pumpkin?
Yes most definitely do!
The reason why rabbits love pumpkin is because of the mildly sweet taste.
Pumpkin is a sweet treat to bunnies!
But pumpkin can be harmful to some pets. Is it toxic to rabbits too?
Is Pumpkin Harmful to Rabbits?
Yes, it can be.
Remember that too much pumpkin 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.
Some pumpkin can have pesticides on them that can severely harm or even kill your rabbit.
It is incredibly important to thoroughly wash all produce, including pumpkin, before offering it to your pet.
Besides the choking hazard, pumpkin can be dangerous to pets if they contain parasites or certain harmful microorganisms, making the pet sick after ingestion (eating).
Feed pumpkin in moderation!
So yes, consuming pumpkin has its risks.
Can Rabbits Eat Pumpkin Rind?
Another issue is the rind…….
Yes, your bunny an eat the rind along with their pumpkin treat.
However, don’t be surprised if your rabbit doesn’t eat the rind, but scarfs down the pumpkin itself.
The rind is much less tasty (and has less sugar content to boot!) to your rabbit than the soft fruit of the pumpkin inside of it.
Can Rabbits Eat Pumpkin Seeds?
Because the seeds as slippery and small, they tend to become a choking hazard for rabbits. Therefore I highly recommend steering away from offering your rabbit pumpkin seeds. Just don’t do it.
Can Rabbits Eat Canned Pumpkin?
It’s not the best choice! It may contain things besides pumpkin itself, including preservatives to keep it from spoiling, which is not the best for your rabbit.
Can Rabbits Eat Pumpkin Pie Filling?
Absolutely not! It is full of things besides just pumpkin itself, including sugar, which is not a good choice for your bunny.
Can Bunnies Eat Cooked Pumpkin?
Not only does the heat used to cook the cooked pumpkin decrease the amounts of nutrients your rabbit will get out of the treat, but it will be less appetizing to your pet as well.
How To Serve Pumpkin To Your Rabbit:
Make sure to introduce any new foods, including pumpkin, to your rabbit slowly and in small bite-sized amounts.
If your furry friend shows any signs of digestive discomfort, loose stool, diarrhea, or decreased appetite, stop feeding them pumpkin immediately and contact your local veterinarian.
- 1 cleaned, store-bought pumpkin
- kitchen produce knife
- cutting board
- Begin by washing the pumpkin thoroughly as you’ll need to remove any bacteria, pesticides, or other chemicals that may have been placed on the squash.
- Then, you’ll want to cut off and discard the thick stem and any hard, thick outer peel or shell should be removed from the pieces you are planning to offer your rabbit.
- Cut the pumpkin into bite-sized pieces.
- You will want to remove the seeds present for the sake of tidiness, pickiness, and most importantly because they are a choking hazard.
- Remove any uneaten pumpkin from the cage within a few hours of serving so that bacteria does not form and grow on the uneaten squash.
Contact your veterinarian to discuss any changes in your pet's diet before adding or making changes to their food routine. Monitor your pet for adverse reactions and side effects - if observed, contact your local veterinarian immediately.
How Much Pumpkin Can Rabbits Have?
Pumpkin is best reserved as a special treat for your furry friend.
A limit of 1 tablespoon worth of pumpkin, offered to your rabbit properly (more on that in a second!), is all that should be given at one time.
If you have a dwarf rabbit or just a smaller-sized rabbit, feed up to 1/4 – 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin to your rabbit.
Pumpkin should be given at a maximum of 1-2 times per week.
How Often Should Rabbits Eat Pumpkin?
Your rabbit can have their pumpkin pieces as a snack one to two days a week.
These days should never be back-to-back. In fact, the days should be spread out a few days apart from one another.
Alternative Foods For Rabbits:
Your cute little bunny deserves the best – best home, best health, and best treats.
Can rabbits eat pumpkin? Yes – they can!
Weigh the pros and cons of feeding pumpkin to your rabbit before tossing them a sweet and tasty snack. If you do decide to give them a treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.
Treating your pet to some of your favorite snacks, like pumpkin, is just fine as long as that store-bought pumpkin is cleaned and prepared properly, served correctly (correct amounts and correct pacing), and only to healthy rabbits.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact your local vet before feeding pumpkin to your buddy.