Most rabbits LOVE their vegetable snacks and it’s just so easy to give them a piece of whatever human food you are snacking on too. However, there are some foods that are safe for humans, but can be harmful to your pet bunny. One common food, zucchini, is often in question: Can rabbits eat zucchini safely?
Dr. Jess explains the answer below:
Check out whether rabbits can eat tomatoes here!
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.
They 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.
They 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 look a little deeper into what zucchinis are so that we can better decide if they should be a part of your rabbit’s diet.
Zucchini, also known as courgettes and Italian marrows, are firm and have a dark green exterior skin with a pale green center, and can grow longer than a foot in length.
Zucchinis are a part of the squash family, like other vegetables such as acorn and butternut squash, cucumbers, and melons.
Zucchini is a popular vegetable choice for many homecooks as it is easy to handle and very versatile in recipes, usually being diced or sliced with their dark green peels intact.
Zucchini can offer a range of important nutrients and health benefits, such as [source]:
- High water content which is good for keeping well hydrated and keeping all body systems functioning properly.
- High in antioxidants: antioxidants may help the body deal with damage from free radicals.
- High fiber content which aids in healthy digestion and absorption of foods. Fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar levels [source] and lower the risk of heart disease [source].
- Reduce blood sugar levels which can help those with diabetes.
- A good source of vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, and K.
Zucchini is satisfying to eat and also quite low in calories. According to the USDA, 3/4 cup of zucchini gives you approximately:
- 20 calories
- 4 grams of carbohydrates
- 1 gram of fiber
- 1 gram of protein
- 0 grams of fat
Zucchinis are packed with nutrients, including [source]:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Vitamin B6
- Folate (vitamin B9)
Do Rabbits Eat Zucchini?
Most rabbits will eat a zucchini when offered.
In a veggie garden, most rabbits will chose vegetables like peas, beans, beets, and carrots over zucchini.
But just because rabbits DO eat zucchini does not necessarily mean that this is the best or safest choice for your pet.
Don’t be too worried if your rabbit does not eat zucchini that is offered- it’s normal. You will find another veggie alternative as a source of fresh food that your bunny can enjoy eating.
Can Rabbits Eat Zucchini? Is it Safe?
There are some foods that us humans can eat that are actually toxic to your rabbit and need to be avoided all together.
While there isn’t anything toxic to rabbits in the actual zucchini itself, you shouldn’t give them too much because problems may arise as I will discuss further down in this article.
Pet owners can chose to feed zucchini to their rabbits, but it should not make up their entire diet. Rabbits prefer munching on grass, commercial feed pellets, and hay, along with a bowl of clean, fresh water.
You see, rabbits are herbivores and need a diet which is high-in fiber and low in sugar and fat.
They get their fiber supplied in the form of plants, such as hay which is a roughage that contains a lot of fiber.
This fiber is beneficial for two reasons:
- Dietary fiber keeps the rabbit’s digestive system running smoothly (it’s the same reason why some people take a fiber supplement like Metamucil!).
- The physical roughage (hay) helps keep the rabbit’s teeth healthy and worn down as their teeth are continually growing and need to be filed in order to prevent overgrowth.
So, long story short- Yes!
Adult rabbits can have Zucchini, if offered to them safely, and I’ll cover that in just a bit.
You do not want to feed the wrong zucchini or the wrong amount or frequency, potentially making your furry friend unintentionally sick.
Can Baby Bunnies Eat Zucchini?
Compared to their adult counterparts, baby rabbits have much more sensitive gastrointestinal systems.
Avoid feeding baby bunnies any kinds of fruits and vegetables until they reach 12 weeks of age to allow their stomachs to mature with them.
Then, when ready to introduce them to juicy vegetables, take it very slowly, waiting at least 24 hours to observe any potential adverse side effects, before moving on and trying more of the same veggie snack or a different tasty treat.
Remember – baby and young, and juvenile rabbits have more sensitive digestive systems!
Wait 24 hours to see their reaction.
If everything is fine, you can move to the next treat.
Is The Rest Of The Zucchini Plant Safe To Eat?
Peel: You can give your rabbit zucchini pieces with the skin still on.
Seeds: Since the seeds are soft, you do not have to remove them.
Leaves and flowers: should be offered fresh.
Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Zucchini?
Do not give your rabbit any cooked zucchini.
Any cooked or processed zucchini is not recommended since your rabbit is an herbivore and they rely on raw foods to get their nutrients.
Everything a rabbit needs can be provided in fresh and raw form. Your rabbit’s stomach is just not made to handle cooked food, including zucchini.
One big advantage with offering raw vegetables is that it’s not only healthier for your rabbit, but it is much less effort on your part.
Medical & Health Concerns of Feeding Zucchini to Rabbits:
Are there any circumstances when zucchini might be bad for your pet?
Yes, some of the common issues seen with feeding zucchini to rabbits include:
- Pesticides: Zucchini should always be washed to make sure they are free of any pesticides or chemicals that could be harmful to rabbits.
- Parasites: Zucchini should be checked over for parasites that can lead to potential parasite problems with your rabbit
- Overly Ripened: Avoid rotten fruits and vegetables that can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset.
- Baby Bunnies: Baby bunnies have a more sensitive digestive system than their adult counterparts do, and therefore you shouldn’t give your rabbit friend any fruits or vegetables until they reach around 12 weeks of age.
How To Feed Zucchini To A Rabbit:
First step to focus in on is the serving size that you are giving your fur baby.
Depending on your rabbit’s size, the average zucchini portion should be about 1-2 slices of zucchini, about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness at most. They should only be fed zucchini about 2-3 times per week tops, but not on a daily basis.
Remember that zucchini should be limited to a special treat only because of potential digestive and other assorted health problems.
Moderation is key here!
Here are my recommended steps when feeding Zucchini to rabbits:
- 1 fresh, cleaned, ripe zucchini
- cutting board
- vegetable cutting knife
- Clean and wash the zucchini. Make sure it is free from dirt and pests.
- Cut your zucchini into 1/8-1/4" thick slices. You may further cut the slices into quarters so that they are more like bite-sized pieces.
- offer your rabbit 1 piece of zucchini and wait to see if any adverse signs are observed before offering zucchini to your pet again. Store any extra zucchini in your fridge in a food-safe airtight container for up to 3-5 days.
Consult with your veterinarian before offering or changing your pet's diet. Contact your veterinarian if you observe any adverse signs after eating any new foods.
How Much to Feed:
Fresh vegetables should be as a supplement to your pet rabbit’s already well-balanced diet.
A slice or two of zucchini for your rabbit is likely the perfect amount, mixed in with other fresh vegetables for them to choose from.
Keep in mind that too many vegetables can cause digestive distress.
Common Signs of Adverse Reaction:
- diarrhea/loose stool
- excessive or increased itching/scratching/licking of skin or paws
Rabbits can have small pieces of ripe, clean zucchini in moderation.
Too much zucchini can cause a minacherie of health problems for the bunny.
Do not feed immature rabbits or rabbits with underlying health conditions zucchini even as a treat.
If you have concerns regarding feeding your rabbit zucchini, contact your local veterinarian beforehand.
- Oglesbee B. The 5 Minute Veterinary Consults Ferret and Rabbit, Blackwell 2006
- Rabbit Care