Rabbits are by far one of the most popular pocket pets. Who can resist feeding these cute little friends some sweet treats like juicy watermelon. But wait…. not all foods are safe for rabbits! Can rabbits eat watermelon?
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.
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 Watermelon…
Watermelon is a common type of melon.
Watermelons are a large fruit with a round green exterior rind that is quite thick, and a crisp fruit center that is red and very juicy and watery.
Watermelons come in many different varieties, including seedless watermelons and watermelon with seeds.
The watermelon plant trails along the ground and is in the same family of plant as are cucumbers and squashes.
In the U.S, Watermelons are in season during the warmer months and are a popular fruit and treat in the Summer months.
Just like with any other fruit, watermelon has its nutritional value…. as well as some things to be weary of!
Watermelon contains vitamin C [source]. Remember that rabbits have the need for vitamin C in their diet just like many other animals! We may be onto something here….
Vitamin C is one of the major players of helping to prevent a disease known as scurvy.
Let’s just say that vitamin C is extremely important for your bunny to have!
Watermelon has a high sugar content as well. Something to take note on and to keep in mind when feeding to bunnies!
It also contains a high percentage of water, which is great when looking to maintain hydration.
Watermelon contains fiber, especially the watermelon rind!
Watermelon provides fiber which helps in constipation and improves gut motility. Too much though, can lead to too much gut motility… and that’s not a good thing either!
Other Vitamins & Minerals:
Watermelon contains other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, which are all needed for healthy body function.
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon?
Well after learning about some of the health benefits and some of the risks that the consumption of watermelon 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 watermelon as a treat to your rabbit on occasion is totally fine and they will likely LOVE you for it!
Moderation = Approximately a 1-2 tablespoon amount of watermelon is enough melon for one rabbit.
If you have a smaller rabbit or a dwarf variety, cut that amount in half and just give your smaller rabbit no more than 1/2 – 1 tablespoon worth of seedless watermelon 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 About Watermelon Seeds?
And then there are the seeds, a potential choking hazard in and of itself. Don’t feed watermelon seeds to your rabbit.
The seeds of a watermelon are slippery, hard, and slimy.
They are also the perfect size to get lodged in a rabbit’s throat and cause them to choke.
Always remove any watermelon seeds prior to feeding the melon to your rabbit.
Do NOT feed your pet watermelon seeds.
- fresh, room temperature watermelon (preferably seedless)
- cutting board
- kitchen knife
- Make sure the watermelon is fresh and at room temperature.
- Cut the melon open and remove the seeds if there are any.
- Cut off the rind and discard it unless you are to feed a small amount of rind in small bite-sized pieces, to your rabbit.
- Cut the melon up into small bite-sized pieces of melon.
- Serve it to your bunny while still fresh and juicy!
Contact your veterinarian before changing or adding any food to your pet's diet.
Is Watermelon Harmful to Rabbits?
Yes, it can be.
Remember that too much melon 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.
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon Rind?
Another issue is the rind…….
The thick rind needs to be cut away and served in small pieces and small amounts to the pet or it can become a digestive issue for them.
Watermelon rind can be served to your rabbit. The whiter flesh of the rind is easier for your pet to chew and ingest than the outermost green, thick and tough rind.
These servings of watermelon rind should be done in moderation, as the watermelon rind contains fiber which, if too much is ingested at one time, can cause diarrhea as well.
What About Watermelon Juice?
You should not offer your rabbit watermelon juice. This is because watermelon 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 watermelon juice for your rabbit please!
Alternative Foods For Rabbits:
So weigh the pros and cons of feeding watermelon to your rabbit before tossing them a sweet and juicy snack, and if you do decide to give them a treat, remember, it’s safe in moderation.