In the wild, rabbits typically don’t get much in the way of fruit, believe it or not. Aside from the occasional bit of berries from low-growing bushes or maybe an apple falling from a tree, the only other stuff they can get is poached from a garden.
But for domestic rabbits, that isn’t the case. Most owners like to feed them safe and nutritious fruits occasionally as a treat.
But you’ve got to be careful; they don’t cope well with lots of sugar in their diet as it can cause serious digestive problems.
How about something that’s not too sweet, like melons… like cantaloupe, for instance? Can rabbits eat cantaloupe safely?
Yes, rabbits can eat cantaloupe safely as an occasional treat but they shouldn’t get it all the time because it’s so sugary. Also, the seeds should be removed prior to serving because they can be a choking and intestinal impaction hazard.
Cantaloupe is actually a pretty inspired choice for a sweet treat when it comes to rabbits. It’s easy for them to digest and has good amounts of vitamins and minerals. But as good as it is, it is still too sugary for them to have every day.
As long as you show a little bit of restraint, it can make a great, fun supplement to their usual diet. Keep reading and I’ll tell you everything you need to know…
Do Rabbits Like Cantaloupe?
Yes, in my experience, most rabbits really like cantaloupe. It’s fragrant, sweet, and highly appealing to them. And I warn you, they will be more than happy to eat as much as they can get. This is why it is so important that you limit how much you feed them!
Is Cantaloupe a Healthy Food for Rabbits?
Cantaloupe is definitely a healthy, wholesome and safe option for rabbits when it comes to treats. But cantaloupe will only ever be that: a treat. It definitely isn’t a majority part of their diet and it should never, ever be the primary thing that they eat for sustenance. That will certainly lead to major health problems!
But if we look at the macro and micronutrient profile of cantaloupe, we can still find a lot to like.
Cantaloupe has very little in the way of protein and fat, but a good amount of carbohydrates, the majority of which is sugars and that’s a little troubling. It isn’t the sugariest fruit out there though, not by far.
And the vitamin content of cantaloupe is pretty impressive, too, and highly diverse.
With lots of vitamin A and beta carotene, a decent assortment of B complex vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate with a little dash of choline and vitamin K. Cantaloupe also contains a great amount of vitamin C.
The mineral content is somewhat lackluster but still pretty good for a fruit and it can definitely help rabbits. Cantaloupe is notably low in calcium which is very good news, but it has a little bit of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc to offer rabbits.
Although it can never be a major food source, all of these nutrients together can improve many aspects of a bunny’s health, including nervous system and eyesight health, organ function, growth and healing, metabolic stability, skin and fur, and a lot more.
Not bad considering they’ll only care about it because it is so sweet and tasty!
Can They Eat Cantaloupe Rind?
Yes, surprisingly, rabbits can eat the rind of a cantaloupe. Although it’s a little bit chewy, it really isn’t that thick or that hard and they can eat it and digest it safely.
However, there’s a decent chance that your rabbits will ignore it and opt for only the sweet, soft flesh instead.
If that’s the case, you don’t need to worry about it because they won’t get great nutrition from the rind anyway.
Are Cantaloupe Seeds Okay?
No. Cantaloupe seeds are a known choking hazard for rabbits, and worse yet they can cause impaction of the digestive tract. This blockage can quickly turn life-threatening, so make sure you remove all the seeds from any cantaloupe you’re going to feed to your bunnies.
Can Cantaloupe Cause Problems for Rabbits?
Cantaloupe is only likely to cause serious issues for your rabbits if you allow them to overeat or give it to them too often. That’s because cantaloupe is just too sugary for them to have regularly without fear of serious digestive tract issues.
Specifically, moist, sugary foods like cantaloupe have a marked tendency to disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut of rabbits.
They rely on these bacteria to help them ferment and process foods that they eat, and when that balance is thrown out of control digestion can slow down or even halt, as can the movement of food through the digestive tract.
This issue is often accompanied by an increase in gas-producing bacteria which will lead to bloat. Bloat causes discomfort and then pain which will further disincentivize a rabbit from eating. This vicious cycle can continue until it results in death, so it’s serious business!
However, a more likely outcome is that you’ll give them a little bit too much cantaloupe and then they’ll get an upset stomach and runny stools or diarrhea.
If that happens, usually you only need to back off for a time until they get back to normal and then make it a point to give them less cantaloupe in the next feeding.
How Often Should Rabbits Eat Cantaloupe?
Rabbits should only get cantaloupe occasionally, no more than once every 4 or 5 days. The quantity should be quite small, no more than a tablespoon worth of cantaloupe for every 2 pounds that a rabbit weighs.
If you stick to the schedule, it is unlikely that they will experience any negative side effects. But, do make it a point to introduce cantaloupe slowly, giving them significantly less than the recommendation above and keeping an eye out for any ill effects or diarrhea.
What’s the Best Way to Serve Cantaloupe to Rabbits?
Cantaloupe is really easy to serve to rabbits. You can cut it up into slices, leaving the rind on, and letting them nibble the soft flesh off and even eat the rind if they want to. This is convenient and quick, but it can make it hard to properly measure how much they can have.
A better option is to cut the flesh off of the rind, then dice that into smaller cubes that you can measure easily.
In either case, remove all of the seeds because they are a choking hazard for rabbits and can block their digestive tract.
Never Give Rabbits Spoiled Cantaloupe
You should only ever give your rabbits fresh, unspoiled produce and that includes melons like cantaloupe. Fruits tend to rot and go bad very quickly, if your cantaloupe is turning brown, going slimy, or showing any signs of mold growth it can make them severely ill should they eat it.
The risk of genuine foodborne illness is bad enough, but rotten food is highly likely to disturb that sensitive gut flora I talked about previously.
And if that happens, it can spiral out of control and eventually end in death if your rabbit doesn’t get veterinary care. Spare your rabbits that pain and discomfort and only give them fresh cantaloupe!
Is Cantaloupe Safe for Bunnies, Too?
Cantaloupe is safe for bunnies also, once they’ve grown up a bit. Once your baby bunny has reached 12 to 14 weeks of age, you can give them a tiny little bite of cantaloupe to try. And I do mean bite, like a single mouthful.
After they have it, keep an eye on them for about a day and make sure it doesn’t upset their stomach. If they stop eating or if their bowel movements turn bad, back off of the additional foods immediately.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.