It’s tough to beat the taste of a sweet, juicy, cold watermelon on a hot summer day – and you’ll always have the temptation to want to slip your rabbits a little bit of watermelon just so that they can enjoy it as well.
But before you rip off a chunk of watermelon to feed your rabbit it’s not a bad idea to make sure that you aren’t going to be poisoning them. Believe it or not, a lot of the foods – especially the fruits – that we as humans can eat with no trouble whatsoever can wreak havoc on the health and wellness of our animal friends.
But that’s why we have put together this quick guide.
By the time you are done with the inside information below you’ll know exactly whether or not it’s safe to feed your rabbit watermelon, what you should do to make it even safer, the benefits that this fruit brings to the table, and any risk factors you need to be aware of, too.
Let’s jump right in!
Is It Safe To Feed My Rabbit Watermelon?
Right out of the gate, it’s important that we tell you it is 100% safe for your rabbit to eat watermelon – in small dosages, though.
The last thing you want to do is fill your rabbit up on watermelon, letting them eat just as much as they want for as long as they want, mostly because of the skyhigh sugar content that these fruits have.
A lot of that sugar is diluted thanks to the skyhigh water content of this fruit (watermelons are up to 90% water, after all), but too much sugar is going to do a number on the digestive system of your rabbit while causing their blood sugar levels to go all over the place, too.
As long as you stick to small chunks given to your rabbit somewhat infrequently (maybe a couple of times a week at most, and only during the summer time) you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
Once you see how much your rabbit likes this sugary treat the temptation is always going to be there to give them a little more. It’s important that you get out ahead of those feelings ASAP as overindulgence on watermelon is where your bunny will get into trouble.
Vitamin And Mineral Content Of Watermelons
Not only will watermelon help to keep your rabbit hydrated and filled with electrolytes (minerals necessary for regulating the amount of water in our bodies and in rabbit bodies), but they are also going to get quite a bit of vitamin A and vitamin C with this delicious little treat.
Vitamin A plays a huge part in keeping your rabbit healthy and happy, specifically when it comes to overall immune system support. Vitamin C helps in that department, too – though rabbits have the ability to naturally produce their own vitamin C (something we as people can’t do) – so they might not need quite as much as you think.
At the same time, researchers believe that rabbits that are stressed out, appear anxious, or are generally a little bit nervous can benefit big-time from a bit of extra vitamin C. Too much of this vitamin, though, can lead to kidney damage – something you’ll want to avoid by feeding your rabbit too much watermelon – so you have to be a little careful.
Magnesium is also found in high quantities in watermelon. This is especially important in helping rabbits avoid a major issue called “bladder sludge”, a condition where a lot of calcium builds up in their urine and becomes very painful for your rabbit.
The magnesium works to sort of counteract all of the calcium that rabbits absorbed from their daily diet, breaking it down and helping to move it out of the body before it can build up in their bladders and cause some serious medical issues and quite a bit of pain.
On top of all of those vitamins and minerals, watermelon is rich in choline and carotenoids.
Choline is needed in a rabbits body for proper function and to regulate hormonal balance as well as a number of core bodily systems. It’s used to improve the metabolism of rabbits, to support healthy brain function, to improve overall muscular function, and can even help them sleep at night, too.
Carotenoids like alpha carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene are hugely important antioxidants that work to keep your rabbit healthy by preventing the damage caused by free radicals.
Combine that with the fact that a little bit of watermelon rind as extra fiber to the diet of your rabbits it’s easy to see why this is such a popular treat for sure!
How Much Watermelon Should You Feed To Your Rabbits
The most important thing you can do when you are feeding your rabbits watermelon is to break it into tiny little chunks (just as small as you can get them) and that you remove ALL the seeds from the watermelon before you give it to your rabbits.
The tiny little chunks are necessary to make it easy for your rabbit to enjoy this sweet treat, but it also lets you sort of modulate just how much watermelon your rabbit is able to eat at anyone particular point in time.
The seeds are poisonous to rabbits and need to be removed completely. This is the biggest risk factor that you’re going to face when giving your rabbits watermelon and one that you really need to focus on every single time you want to give them some fruit.
As a general rule, fruit should never make up more than 10% of your rabbits diet. On top of that, you’ll also want to make sure that you are regularly rotating the kind of fruit that you are giving your rabbit – avoiding too much watermelon as much as possible.
Some experts believe that watermelon should always be limited to about 1 tablespoon of flesh and rind per 2 pounds of rabbit body weight, and that you should never feed your rabbit watermelon more than twice a week.
How Should Your Prepare Watermelon For Your Rabbits
As highlighted above, it’s not a bad idea to first remove all the seeds from your watermelon completely, something that becomes a whole lot easier to pull off when your watermelon is fresh and just sliced.
After that, a lot of people like to cut their watermelon into smaller chunks and then stick them in the freezer for a short amount of time (maybe 30 minutes or so) just to firm things up.
You’ll be able to cut the watermelon into even smaller slices with this approach if you’re interested in going down that road, but the freezing process will work to break down some of the fibrous tissue in the fruit to make it even easier for your rabbit to chew and digest.
If you have a kitchen scale handy and can weigh out the amount of watermelon that you are giving your rabbit it’s not a bad idea to do so. Otherwise, 1 tablespoon of watermelon per 2 pounds of rabbit body weight is the “golden rule” most experts try and abide by – though you can sort of eyeball things as long as you are sure not to overfeed your rabbit along the way.
Alternatives To Watermelon For Rabbits
Rabbits are known to have incredibly sensitive stomachs and digestive systems, which is why you want to introduce watermelon to them really slowly and over a decent stretch of time.
It may take you two or three weeks to build up enough of a digestive tolerance system in their bodies before you can give them the full “watermelon dosage” we highlighted above.
At the same time, if your rabbit remains particularly sensitive to watermelon – you’ll know if their stool is rather loose on a regular basis after they’ve had watermelon – you might be on the hunt for other alternatives.
Cranberries have a lot of the same benefits that watermelon offer, especially as far as vitamin and mineral contents are concerned, and maybe the perfect alternative that you are looking for.
Apples (without any seeds), cherries (without any pets), peaches and pears, plums and Kiwis, mangoes, berries of pretty much any kind imaginable, and even a bit of skinned pineapple are all fantastic alternatives that you’ll want to consider giving as treats to your rabbits as well.
As we mentioned a little bit earlier it’s not a bad idea to rotate the fruits that you are giving your rabbits. Any of the fruits we just mentioned can work well in a rotation with watermelon.
At the end of the day, the odds are pretty good that your rabbit would love a little bit of watermelon every now and again – especially in the summertime when you have fresh watermelon on hand and are enjoying some yourself.
There are a couple of precautions that you’ll want to focus on to make sure that they stay safe and that their digestive system doesn’t go haywire after they’ve had this delicious, sugary treats.
But as long as you stick to the details we highlighted above and the guidelines we outlined you really shouldn’t have anything to worry about going forward!