A summer treat that both humans and rabbits enjoy is a delicious, juicy watermelon. You may be wondering, can rabbits eat watermelon and is it a safe fruit to give your pet? Well, it sure is. Watermelon is safe for your rabbit to eat—but in moderation.
How beneficial is watermelon to your rabbit’s diet? Are the seeds and the rind of watermelon safe for your rabbit? We’ll be answering all these questions today.
We will discuss how safe watermelons are for rabbits. We will also look into the benefits and the risks. Is it a treat, or can it be eaten as part of a balanced meal? By the end of this article, you will be fully informed and know everything you need to know about feeding your rabbit watermelon.
Is Watermelon Safe for Rabbits?
Watermelon is an excellent treat for your rabbit now and again.
Rabbits are known to have a sweet tooth—they would eat the entire watermelon if allowed to. Watermelon should only be served as an occasional treat for your rabbit, as the high sugar content found in this fruit can be dangerous to your rabbit’s health.
As you know, a rabbit’s digestive system is quite complex. Too much sugar could disrupt their sensitive digestive system, which could lead to unnecessary issues. A rabbit’s diet should consist mainly of hay, and they should have access to clean water at all times.
Can All Rabbits Eat Watermelon?
Rabbits younger than seven months shouldn’t be fed watermelon, or any fruit for that matter. The intestinal flora in their gut has not fully developed yet. Baby rabbits and young rabbits should only be fed a fresh supply of hay and clean water. Sugary treats like watermelon and other fruit can lead to serious medical conditions.
Although it’s safe to feed pregnant and lactating mother rabbits watermelon, it is best if you avoid it. The sugar content in watermelon and any other sugary fruit could transfer to their babies. It’s better to only feed pregnant and lactating mother rabbits hay, a mixture of leafy greens, and vegetables.
As watermelons contain a lot of sugar, rabbits with diabetes shouldn’t be fed this treat. Rabbits with digestive issues should also not be fed watermelon or any sugary treats. Feed your rabbit with tummy issues only hay and fresh, clean water. The hay will assist in resetting the intestinal flora in no time.
Preparing Watermelon for Rabbits
If this is the first time your rabbit will eat watermelon, give them a small portion and wait a day to see how your rabbit’s body reacts. If your rabbit’s stool is soft and runny, avoid feeding them any sugary treats.
If your rabbit has diarrhea, feed it only hay and water. Remove pellets, vegetables, and leafy greens until their stool is normal.
Always feed your rabbit watermelon in moderation. One serving for smaller breeds and two servings for larger breeds once or twice a week is plenty.
Preparation is key. Cut the watermelon into bite-sized cubes for your bunny. Watermelon can get quite messy, and so can your rabbit.
Other Parts of the Watermelon
There is debate about whether or not watermelon seeds are safe. Some experts claim they are toxic for rabbits, and others disagree. For the safety of your rabbit, it’s probably best to remove the seeds. They could be a choking hazard, as they can get lodged in the throat of your rabbit.
The leaves, flowers, and vines of a watermelon plant are safe for your rabbit. Like the fruit itself, rabbits need to eat both in moderation.
The rind of the watermelon is also safe for rabbits to consume and is great for wearing down their teeth—which never stop growing and need to be kept in check.
The flesh of the watermelon is quite low in fiber. However, the rind of the watermelon is quite fibrous and contains less sugar that’s good for rabbits’ dental health. An additional benefit of feeding your rabbit watermelon rind is it contains citrulline amino acid that can undo atherosclerosis progression in rabbits.
The Benefits of Watermelon for Rabbits
There are a number of benefits to feeding your rabbit watermelon. It’s low in calories for a fruit, and high in water, vitamins, electrolytes, choline and carotenoids.
Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins A and C are good for rabbits’ overall health and can strengthen their immune systems. A word of caution, though. Rabbits can produce their own vitamin C, so watermelon should be served as a treat only. Too much vitamin C can cause kidney issues in rabbits.
Watermelon also contains protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. Although these vitamins and minerals are essential to the health of your rabbit, watermelon shouldn’t be fed to your rabbit daily.
Watermelon contains approximately 91% water, which will help keep your rabbit hydrated. With access to plenty of clean water and treats that contain water, your rabbit’s digestive system will work well, and it will help them stay healthy and happy.
The sodium, chloride, and potassium found in watermelon are three major components that makeup electrolytes. These are electrically charged minerals that will help replenish your rabbit’s body with vital fluids.
Watermelon is high in choline. Choline is an essential nutrient that is necessary for the formation of vital bodily substances. These substances include creatine and adrenaline. These substances benefit both humans and rabbits with fat conversions and other metabolic reactions.
Choline, along with vitamin B6, can help improve rabbits’ muscle function, metabolism, and brain responses. It also helps fight liver disease and necrosis of the kidney in rabbits.
Watermelon is high in carotenoids, which are the pigments that give a plant its yellow, orange, and red color. The carotenoids in watermelon are made up of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lycopene. Together it is a powerful antioxidant that aids in the prevention of free radical damage in rabbits.
Rabbits often suffer from bladder sludge, which is when high amounts of calcium build up in their urine. While other animals can discard the excess calcium they have consumed, rabbits’ bodies absorb all the calcium they eat.
Consuming magnesium, which is found in watermelon, is a great way to balance this and help with bladder sludge.
What Are the Risks of Watermelon?
Care needs to be taken when feeding your rabbit watermelon. Too much watermelon can lead to digestive issues because of the overload of sugar. The first sign that your rabbit is unable to handle the sugar content in watermelon is diarrhea.
Diarrhea and gas can be painful for rabbits. Too much sugar creates an imbalance in your rabbit’s gut flora. To remedy this, feed your rabbit only hay and ensure it has access to plenty of water. If your rabbit’s diarrhea continues for more than 24 hours, seek medical assistance immediately.
Gastrointestinal stasis (GI stasis) is the most dangerous hazard when overfeeding your rabbit a diet high in sugar and low in fiber. Not only is watermelon low in fiber, but it is also high in sugar. Gastrointestinal stasis is the slow passage of food through the digestive tract. When this occurs, it can be fatal to a rabbit.
The symptoms of GI stasis are a distended belly, little to no feces, and dehydration. Seek emergency medical treatment if you notice these symptoms in your rabbit.
Too much sugar in your rabbit’s diet can lead to obesity. This can also cause rabbits to develop diabetes. Obesity can also lead to more health issues for your bunny.
Rabbits that are obese are at risk for heart disease, liver disease, arthritis, flystrike, and moist dermatitis.
While the rind of watermelon is great for keeping a rabbit’s teeth short, the high sugar content in the flesh can lead to tooth decay if eaten in excess.
Rabbits produce cecotropes, which are nutrient-packed “droppings” that are essential to your rabbit’s diet. Overfeeding your rabbit watermelon could lead to uneaten cecotropes.
Can My Rabbit Eat a Watermelon Rind?
The watermelon rind is safe for your rabbit to eat. In fact, the rind is much better to feed your pet rabbit since it contains more fiber and less sugar than the flesh of the watermelon. It is also important to note that the rind should be given as a treat in moderation.
Can My Rabbit Eat the Vines From the Watermelon Plant?
Watermelon vines are perfectly safe for rabbits to eat. We do, however, recommend your rabbit chew on the vines only once per week.
Are Watermelon Leaves Safe for My Rabbit?
The leaves of a watermelon plant are not toxic and are perfectly safe for rabbits. Make sure to wash the leaves thoroughly and add a leaf or two with a mixture of leafy green vegetables. It is best to serve the leaves occasionally and not part of your rabbit’s diet.
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon Seeds?
It is best to remove the seeds from a watermelon, as they can be a choking hazard. The seeds are slippery and can get lodged in your furry friend’s throat.
Although watermelon is a good summer treat for rabbits, care needs to be taken. The sugar content in watermelon is quite high, which could lead to numerous digestive issues in rabbits.
Refrain from feeding pregnant and lactating mother rabbits watermelon. Baby rabbits and juvenile rabbits shouldn’t be given watermelon either. Adult rabbits and rabbits older than seven months can enjoy it as a juicy, delicious treat.
Watermelon vines and leaves are safe for rabbits to eat in moderation if you grow the plant and have them on offer. Always ensure that your rabbit eats their recommended daily intake of hay before treating them to watermelon.