Pumpkins for rabbits

Can Rabbits Eat Pumpkins?

Pumpkins are believed to be rabbits’ second-favorite orange vegetable, right after carrots. These winter squashes are mostly used as holiday pies, but they’re also packed with nutrition that’s important in a rabbit’s diet.

Pumpkin is not toxic for rabbits but they should not be fed with it too often or in larger amounts. If you check any suggested food lists for rabbits, you will notice that pumpkin is not really on the list. This is due to the high amount of carbohydrates and sugars a pumpkin carries which as we all know, are not that good for rabbits.

Today, we will be learning why pumpkins can be such a great addition to a pet rabbit’s diet. After scanning its nutrition facts, we’ll also talk about the things that you should not do when serving pumpkins to your rabbits, as well as the amount of pumpkin your rabbit should eat.

After reading this article, you’ll have everything you need to know to help you decide how you’d like to serve pumpkin to your rabbit.

What is Pumpkin?

Pumpkin is scientifically recognized as a fruit that refers to the winter squash family. Pumpkins are abundant in water, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. But do rabbits enjoy eating pumpkins?

Rabbits Can Eat Pumpkin

Rabbits can eat pumpkins and they love them! They’re very drawn to its sweet, sugary flesh. 

You can also give pumpkin leaves to your rabbit as an essential source of dietary fiber. While pumpkins are not toxic for rabbits, as you read along, you’ll soon find out why you may not want to feed the seeds and rinds to your pet rabbit.

You can feed them some rind with the size of your thumb, but make sure not to feed them more than that. You can also feed them what you scrape off the Halloween pumpkin, the pumpkin guts. Not all rabbits like to eat pumpkins. Particularly the skin. Just don’t forget to wash the outside of the pumpkin thoroughly before cutting it.

The skin of the pumpkin, its flesh, and insides (except for the seeds) carry phosphorus, beta-carotene, other vitamins, and minerals but also include a high amount of sugar. So, it will also seem for rabbits to be too acidic and too starchy if fed regularly. This indicates that you feed pumpkin to your pet rabbit but in moderate quantities, and only as a treat, as they can generate stomach aches.

It’s ok to serve an adult rabbit with a maximum of 2 oz. or 2 TBSP per 6 lbs. of their body weight. You should introduce recommended vegetables to rabbits aged seven months to one year old one by one. And then you can try to introduce new and sweet vegetables or fruits only after that.

Is it Safe for Rabbits to Eat Pumpkins?

A well-ripened pumpkin is safe for rabbits to be fed, but it should also be given as an occasional treat only. Due to the added sugar, preservatives, and other chemicals canned pumpkins contain, it’s best to only give raw, fresh pumpkins when feeding them to your rabbit.

Avoid serving your rabbit an excessive amount of pumpkin as it contains a high amount of carbs and sugar. Serving your pet rabbit anything that carries a high amount of carbs can lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, dental issues, and obesity. Obesity in rabbits is linked with pregnancy toxemia, pododermatitis, myiasis, and GI stasis, among other ailments.

Giving home-cooked pumpkin to your pet rabbit is okay, but it won’t be that attractive to animals as it would lose its crunch. It is also thicker in carbohydrates than raw pumpkin.

You should also avoid giving pumpkin treats, such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, etc. as they carry too much sugar and fat for a pet rabbit.

Providing too much pumpkin can also make rabbits lose their appetite for more nutritious, lower-calorie, and high-fiber recommended foods such as hay and leafy greens.

Do Rabbits Like to Eat Pumpkins?

Your rabbit will surely run after pumpkin in any form due to its sweetness. Rabbits that grew in the wild are more likely to gnaw on pumpkin leaves and stems, but domesticated rabbits can easily overeat.

Rabbit owners should also be cautious not to exceed their rabbit’s carbohydrate and sugar consumption. If you’re serving your rabbit a tablespoon of pumpkin today, it should only be a portion of the prescribed amount of fruit and starchy vegetables your rabbit can consume per week.

Pumpkin Nutrition and Fun Facts

Pumpkin is a species of winter squash family most well-recognized for its presence around Halloween and Thanksgiving. They are considered to be one of the oldest cultivated plants and arose in Northeast Mexico. The heaviest pumpkin on record weighed in at an outstanding 2,624.6 pounds!

Remarkably abundant in Vitamin A and with balanced minerals, pumpkin contributes a lot of nutritional benefits alongside its sugar content. Composed of 88% carbohydrates, 9% protein, and 3% fat, it’s sugary enough that it should only be reserved as a treat for your rabbit.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Rabbits

The greatest health benefits of pumpkin come from its large amounts of Vitamin A. According to the book “Rabbit Feeding and Nutrition” by Peter Cheeke, Vitamin A is helpful for the following functions in rabbits:

  • Supporting healthy vision
  • Supporting the skin and mucous membranes
  • Promoting bone growth
  • Developing reproductive performance
  • Fostering healthy growth and development
  • Shielding against disease and infection

Pumpkin is also an acceptable source of nourishment for rabbits. However, your rabbit’s food consumption should be predominantly made up of hay.

Wild rabbits possess a diet that’s high in fiber and low in calories, carbohydrates, and fats, due to their primary food which are grass, weeds, and twigs.

Rabbits also require some supplemented protein, vitamins, and minerals from leafy greens, vegetables, and fruit for their maturity and development. Pumpkin is an exceptional source of:

  • Water. Pumpkin is made up of 94% water, which supports digestion, bowel movements, and the restriction of dehydration and overheating.
  • Vitamin A. rabbits require vitamin A for healthy fur and vision and the correct functioning of the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
  • Vitamin K. Enhances blood flow, reduces the risk of blood clots, and develops bone health.
  • Folate. Increases immunity and regenerates red blood cell production.
  • Zinc. Vital for several metabolic processes, such as protein synthesis, which also improves fur health and wound healing.
  • Phosphorus and Calcium. Work hand-in-hand to maintain the bones in their health condition.
  • Potassium and Magnesium. These aid rabbits to relax their muscles and experience better sleep. They’re also great for the heart.
  • Manganese. Required for the optimal flow of protein, carbohydrates, and fats in their body.

Can Pumpkin Be Bad for Rabbits?

When you feed your rabbit raw pumpkin, the only potential danger could be high sugar intake.

Due to a fragile balance of beneficial bacteria on a rabbit’s digestive system, an excess amount of sugar can create indigestion or blockages. Always serve any sweet foods to your pet rabbit in moderation and only as an occasional treat rather than their daily food.

A rabbit can easily digest the leaves and flesh of pumpkins, but we urge you to discard the seeds, guts, and rind before serving it to your bunny. A rabbit’s digestive system will find it hard to digest and run the risk of blocking your rabbit’s throat.

How to Feed Pumpkin to Your Rabbits?

Keep in mind not to feed cooked pumpkin, or any cooked food for that matter, to your rabbit.

A rabbit’s digestive system can only work as it should be when being fed anything raw such as grasses and vegetables, not by processed or cooked foods. Serving cooked foods to your rabbit can surely wreck their beneficial gut bacteria, which can lead to discomfort or fatality.

Always strive to gain access to any organic pumpkins to keep your rabbit safe and healthy. You should also consider the wax and pesticides that are found in non-organic produce, which can also be harmful to your rabbit’s health, particularly for thick-rind vegetables like pumpkins.

How Many Pumpkins Should I Feed My Rabbit?

Due to the rabbit’s complex digestive system, new foods should be introduced gradually into their diets. Try giving your bunny just a few bites of raw pumpkin, then observe closely it displays any of the following symptoms of indigestion:

  • Bloating
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

If you notice that your pet rabbit is showing any of these signs, then discontinue feeding the pumpkin to your rabbit instantly.

But if your rabbit’s digestion handles pumpkin well, it can become an important part of their diet.

Due to its high sugar content, try to feed pumpkin to your pet rabbit as a treat only once or twice per week. A helpful trick is to match a single serving size to the actual size of your rabbit’s head.

How Many Pumpkins Can A Rabbit Eat?

As a general rule of thumb, rabbits should only be fed 2 tablespoons of raw pumpkin flesh per 5 pounds of their body weight, 2 to 3 times a week.

Young rabbit’s digestive systems that haven’t adapted to pumpkin should be fed with no more than 1 tablespoon of pumpkin 2 to 3 times a week.

Refer to the table below to know the amount of pumpkin a rabbit can eat per week as per its breed and weight:

Rabbit BreedAverage Adult Weight, lbAmount of Pumpkin in tbsp., per week
Lionhead rabbit3.751.5
Flemish giant3.51.4
Holland lop3.51.4
Netherland dwarf2.51.0
Continental giant187.2
Dutch rabbit41.6
Mini Rex4.51.8
French lop145.6
Polish rabbit2+0.8
American rabbit10+4.0
Californian rabbit10+4.0
Beveren rabbit124.8
English lop124.8

Parts of Pumpkin to Feed Your Rabbit

Any of the various varieties of pumpkin can make a nice supplement to your rabbit’s diet. However, it’s critically essential to only serve raw pumpkin to your rabbit. Any cooked foods can create severe digestive problems for your rabbit and should be completely avoided.

Pumpkin Seeds

The pumpkin seeds which are also called pepitas are just among the few seeds that rabbits can safely eat. However, rabbits can only eat raw pumpkin seeds as an occasional treat and it might create blockage in their throat.

Pumpkin seeds are very nutritious, as they’re filled with vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and potassium. However, they’re compact in fatty acids, which are bad for rabbits if provided daily.

Rabbits possess far more delicate digestive tracts than humans. This explains why they cannot absorb fats well. Giving your pet rabbit an excessive amount of fat can also impede digestion and the proper motility of the GI tract. Too much fat can also be stored in the arteries and liver, occurring in severe health complexities.

Weight gain and obesity are also the common issues associated with a diet high in fatty foods, such as nuts and seeds.

Another concern that you need to consider with pumpkin seeds is that they are a choking hazard for rabbits. It can also get stuck in their teeth. Therefore, if you’ve never served your rabbit any pumpkin seeds before, keep a keen eye on how it behaves after eating.

You can incorporate a pinch of ground pumpkin seeds in your rabbit’s food to avoid the danger of choking, but be cautious as it can add a lot of fat to your rabbit’s diet.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds can be a great source of zinc for your pet rabbit. Zinc plays an essential role in various metabolic processes, such as wound healing, strong immune system, growth and development, DNA structure, and protein synthesis. Zinc is also required for healthy skin and furs in rabbits.

Rabbits cannot generate zinc on their own so they must be provided dietary zinc every day from their food. An absence of zinc in the diet can drive poor growth and development, digestive problems, reproductive concerns, poor appetite, depression, and a low immune system.

As stated in the Journal of Animal Science, rabbits that were not given enough zinc in their diet did not only grow poorly, but they also produced skin lesions, alopecia, and Pasteurella infections.

Always remember that pumpkin seeds should not be included as a supplementary food source if your rabbit has zinc deficiency. Speak to your vet about planning a balanced diet for your rabbit that incorporates plenty of zinc.

Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of protein, which they require for proper growth and development.

Pumpkin Skin

Rabbits can consume the pumpkin skin. Pumpkin skin is a greater source of nutrients for rabbits than the flesh itself.

Pumpkin skin carries more fiber and fewer carbohydrates than pumpkin flesh. Just don’t forget to wash the pumpkin to eliminate any fertilizer and pesticides.

Pumpkin Leaves, Stems, and Flowers

Rabbits may munch on pumpkin leaves and stems, but it will be best to dodge them. Pumpkin leaves and stems are packed with calcium. In rabbits, most of the calcium they obtained from food goes straight into the body.

Any excess amount of calcium is maintained in the bladder in the form of crystals, ending in thick, sandy, or paste-like urine or sludge. It also creates swelling of the bladder wall. These crystals contract and form stones in the kidneys, bladder, ureters, and urethra.

Rabbits can consume pumpkin flowers safely, as long as they’re free of any harmful chemicals such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Pumpkin is deemed healthy and nutritious for rabbits, as long as it is served in moderation. Pumpkin seeds are rich in fats and can be a choking hazard to your pet rabbit. You may gain better luck crushing the seeds and adding them in very tiny amounts to your rabbit’s diet.

Other Things to Consider When Feeding Pumpkin

Even though pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene, which bunnies turn into Vitamin A (eye health, healthy bone composition, reproductive and immune system) there are other great sources that your rabbit will also like. You don’t have to rely on carrots or pumpkins to give Vit A to your beloved rabbit.

Like all fruit, serving your pet an excessive amount of sweet vegetables (squashes or bell peppers) can hurt his intestines but also can produce nutritional inequalities and even obesity.

Fresh food acts an essential role in the rabbit’s diet. Fresh leafy food (about 75% of the fresh part of their diet) fresh non-leafy food ( about 25% of the fresh part of their diet: 15% non-leafy vegetables and 10% good fruits) provided to your rabbit in different textures, tastes, and colors. They all aid in preventing boredom.

The Correct Diet Is Important

A rabbit’s natural diet is very easy to grasp. In the wild, rabbits mostly consume grasses and low-lying plants. Given the chance, they’ll happily munch flowers and garden vegetables, as well.

A rabbit’s diet should consist mostly of hay, which is a great replacement for grasses in the wild. You can find a few different types of hay that are perfect for rabbits which include Timothy, Orchard, and Oat. Your pet rabbit should always have access to an immense amount of hay.

Here is other food that you can feed to your rabbit every day:

  • A serving of commercial rabbit food: Always check the label to find out how much you can give to your bunny
  • About a cup of leafy greens and a tablespoon of crunchy veggies per two pounds of their body weight per day
  • 1 teaspoon of fruit per 2 pounds of their body weight (This is a general guideline; it’s vital to investigate each fruit to make sure it’s safe and know the right serving size!)

Your bunny also requires continual access to clean, fresh water, so don’t forget to rinse and refill your drinking bottle each day.

Last but not least, your rabbit must have something to chew on. Due to their ever-growing teeth, bunnies must continually gnaw and nibble.

Some of the great options you can give to your pet rabbit are untreated softwood sticks. This includes applewood, slices of dried, unbleached loofah, and pieces of natural coconut shell. Your bunny might like rabbit toys, too!

Final Thoughts

You can make pumpkin as an excellent treat for your rabbit any time of the year. Its high sugar content is neutralized by the large proximity of helpful vitamins and minerals, making it a good addition to your rabbit’s diet. Feel free to get your pet rabbit involved with your Halloween or Thanksgiving celebrations this year by serving them pumpkins!