Can rabbits eat pumpkin?
Pumpkin is not poisonous for rabbits but they should not eat it too often or in larger quantities. If you check recommended food lists for rabbits you will see that pumpkin is not really on the list. This is because it’s high in carbohydrates and sugars and, as we all know, they are not really that good for rabbits.
You can feed him a bit of the rind — the size of your thumb — but not more than that. You can also give him what you carve off the Halloween pumpkin, the pumpkin guts. Not all rabbits fancy eating pumpkin. Especially the skin. Always wash the outside of the pumpkin before cutting it.
The pumpkin peel, flesh, and insides (remember to remove the seeds) contain phosphorus, beta-carotene, other vitamins, and minerals but also a high amount of sugar. So, it’s also too acidic and too starchy for rabbits to eat on a regular basis. This means that rabbits can eat pumpkin but in reasonable quantities, only as a treat, as they can get stomach aches.
It’s ok to feed an adult with maximum 2 oz. (2 TBL) per 6 lbs. body weight of treats. Young rabbits (between 7 months and 1 year) need to be introduced first to the accepted and well-known list of vegetables for rabbits — one by one — and only after that, they can try new and sweet vegetables or fruits.
What about the seeds, plants or cooked pumpkin?
The insides are fine for them but pay attention to the seeds. Even though you may hear of people feeding seeds, rabbits should never try any kind of seed in it’s raw or cooked form. They can choke on them. Seeds can block the trachea tract, or get stuck in their teeth. Seeds are not recommended in pellets either. Their nutritional values are too high for bunnies. In time they can become obese.
Here is an advice that you may hear from people but that it’s not worth taking in consideration. We read about people feeding canned pumpkin to their rabbits to treat some illnesses like digestive blockages or to assure some extra fiber for them. Why take this risk, when your rabbit has already a digestive problem.
One spoon of pumpkin puree will not be a harmful food to a healthy rabbit but for a suffering bunny, it’s better to contact a vet. This is only a treat and the foundation of your rabbit’s diet should always be the hay, recommended vegetables, a few high-fiber pellets. Try feeding hay, water, and a few high-quality pellets until you go to your vet. As a plus, the best treat to avoid hairball issues is papaya or pineapple.
Avoid any cooked food, in general. Rabbits have a stomach especially designed for raw food. The cecum and the cecum flora is a rabbit particularity worth learning more about. Here, in the cecum, the fiber from hay and other cellulose food is fermented. They produce some special pellets called cecotropes that rabbits will consume. This is how they get their vitamins and minerals.
Cooked or canned food can cause GI stasis, gas, stomach ache, or runny stools. This food will not survive cecum’s anaerobic conditions. The canned-pie-filling which is full of sugars and preservatives is even worse.
The plants are full of calcium. They can nibble on the leaves but it’s not a food they can carelessly eat. The flowers are also ok, as zucchini or cucumber flowers are. Always be sure they are pesticide (herbicide, chemical) free.
Other things to consider when feeding pumpkin
Even though pumpkin is full in beta-carotene, which bunnies convert into Vitamin A (eye health, healthy bone structure, reproductive and immune system) there are other good sources that your rabbit will also love. You don’t have to depend upon carrots or pumpkin to provide Vit A to your dear rabbit. Here is a list of recommended vegetables for rabbits. Look for the Vitamin A section. Besides the content of Vitamin A, you must watch the content of sugar, calcium, or oxalates.
Like all fruit, feeding your pet too many sweet vegetables (squashes or bell peppers) can harm his intestines but also can cause nutritional imbalances and even obesity.
The fresh food plays an important role in the rabbit’s diet. Leafy fresh food (about 75% of the fresh part of the diet) non-leafy fresh food (25% of the fresh part of the diet: 15% non-leafy vegetables and 10% good fruits) give to your rabbit different textures, tastes, and colors. They all help preventing boredom.
Rabbits can try all types of pumpkin. For example, butternut pumpkin or butternut squash it’s ok, too. They can have it in small amounts as a regular pumpkin.