Can Rabbits Eat Pumpkin? Is it Safe?

Pumpkins are indisputably the most beloved of the winter squashes. Aside from being the centerpieces of fall decorations, serving as cheery (or scary) jack-o’-lanterns, and giving us delicious pumpkin pie they also lend their “spice” to overpriced coffee drinks.

white rabbit eating a piece of pumpkin
white rabbit eating a piece of pumpkin

Jokes aside, pumpkins also serve as important food sources for all kinds of animals. But what about rabbits? Can rabbits eat pumpkin and is it safe for them to do so?

Yes, rabbits can have pumpkin on a limited basis as a treat or as an occasional supplement to their usual diet when they are in season. Pumpkins are nutritious, but not nutritionally balanced for rabbits and a little too sugary, generally.

Pumpkins can definitely be an interesting addition to the diet of your rabbits. It’s not something they can get all the time because they aren’t in season year-round in most places, and most of the ones I’ve known, always look forward to getting a little bit as a surprise.

But, as expected, there’s more you need to know before you start adding pumpkin to their menu, so keep reading and I’ll tell you about it…

Do Rabbits Like Pumpkin?

Yes. Or rather I should say usually. Most rabbits have something of a sweet tooth, and pumpkin definitely tastes sweet to rabbits.

However, I’ve owned a few that don’t seem to care for it and will turn up their noses at it. If yours will eat it, great, but if not there’s no need to force them because there’s bound to be something else they will like instead.

Is Pumpkin a Healthy Food for Rabbits?

Yes, in a limited capacity, pumpkin is a healthy food for rabbits. It has a great assortment of vitamins and minerals that they need, and can give them a little shot of energy along with a bit of protein.

However, pumpkin does not have enough fiber to be consistently good for them and it is a bit too sugary for regular consumption.

But as a supplement, it works wonderfully and that’s because of the vitamin and mineral content. Looking at the former, we see that pumpkins are a great source of vitamin A and beta carotene along with vitamin C.

These vitamins are supported by most of the B complex ones, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate along with just a little bit of vitamins E and K. Not bad for something that usually gets turned into dessert, and technically I guess it is still “dessert” for rabbits!

The mineral content of pumpkins isn’t quite as spectacular but still worthwhile, and I should also point out that pumpkins are a low-calcium food which is generally a good thing for our bunnies.

Aside from that, pumpkins have a good amount of iron, manganese, phosphorus and potassium with somewhat lesser amounts of magnesium and zinc.

These are all things that rabbits need in order to thrive and stay healthy. The problem is that pumpkins are not something they should be eating in large quantities or having all the time; that could easily result in a nutritional imbalance.

Can Rabbits Have Pumpkin Flesh?

Yes, they can, and it is the flesh that is the best part of the pumpkin for rabbits. The flesh is tender but firm, the ideal consistency of food for them outside of their usual hay and grass. It’s easy to eat and easy for them to digest…

Can Rabbits Have Pumpkin Skin?

No. As a general rule, pumpkin skin is too thick and prone to cause choking or intestinal blockage, and rabbits for them to eat it safely. However, very young, small or special varieties of pumpkins might have thin skin that they can eat safely.

The way to determine is whether or not you can flex the skin in between your fingers: if it is rigid like a shell, don’t give it to your rabbits.

Are Pumpkin Guts Safe for Rabbits?

No. Stringy pumpkin guts are only nominally edible by rabbits, but somewhat difficult for them to digest and it isn’t out of the question that they could also cause an intestinal blockage- something which could lead to GI stasis!

That can quickly turn fatal for a rabbit, so I don’t like to risk it…

Are Pumpkin Seeds Safe for Rabbits?

No. Large, hard pumpkin seeds are difficult for rabbits to digest, liable to cause choking and another contributor to internal blockages. Avoid and make sure they’re entirely removed from the pumpkin flesh before serving to your bunnies!

Can Rabbits Eat Pumpkin Leaves?

Yes, they can. Most rabbits will show more interest in the leaves than the pumpkin itself if left to their own devices, and the leaves are safe and nutritious for them to eat although there aren’t very many to go around.

Can Pumpkin Cause Problems for Rabbits?

Yes, pumpkin can potentially cause problems for them but typically this is only due to overconsumption: Pumpkins are not overtly toxic or harmful for rabbits in limited amounts.

The problem with pumpkins, aside from the risks of nutritional imbalance we already discussed above, is that they’re sugary and don’t offer much fiber which rabbits must have.

This makes them prone to, when fed to excess, causing a disruption in the gut flora that rabbits depend on to properly digest and process the foods they eat.

This usually results in several escalating and sometimes cascading problems: at its least harmful, this will cause a rabbit to lose its appetite and have an upset stomach, resulting in discomfort and often loose stools.

It will often correct on its own assuming their diet gets back to normal, but sometimes it can progress in severity and cause true diarrhea and gas bloating.

Gas is no laughing matter for them, because they cannot expel gas by the same means that other mammals can. This bloating will result in intense pain and, sometimes, death. Invariably it requires the care of a vet when it gets bad in order to save the rabbit’s life.

I don’t say all this to scare you or to turn you off of feeding pumpkin to your rabbits, but you just need to be cautious and responsible when you do. Only ever give them small amounts and frequently as a treat according to the schedule below and you shouldn’t expect any problems.

How Often Should Rabbits Eat Pumpkin?

Rabbits should only get pumpkin in their diet twice a week at most, and even then only a tablespoon. Less than a tablespoon for smaller rabbits.

And it’s a good idea to introduce pumpkin to them very slowly and cautiously to make sure that it does not upset their digestive tract. If you’re thinking about serving pumpkin to your bunny, give them just a few nibbles, no more, and then see how they do.

If you notice any change in their behavior, eating habits, or bowel movements, discontinue the feeding of pumpkin immediately.

Assuming things go well, you can slowly increase the amount they get according to the schedule above, but be cautious not to exceed the maximum.

What’s the Best Way to Serve Pumpkin to Them?

If you’re going to give pumpkin to your rabbits, give them only the flesh with the skin removed, and make sure you get rid of the seeds and those stringy guts.

I recommend you cut the flesh up into small cubes or chunks that are easier for them to eat. Remember! Keep the quantity very small to avoid problems and don’t give it to them too often.

Never Give Rabbits Spoiled Pumpkin

As tempting as it might be to repurpose that old, mushy jack-o’-lantern as rabbit food, don’t do it: they should only eat fresh and unspoiled pumpkin unless you want them to get terribly sick.

I’ll put it to you this way… If you wouldn’t consider using a particular pumpkin to make a sweet pumpkin pie for your grandma, don’t even think of giving it to your rabbits.

They’re far too sensitive and too fragile to withstand such abuse, and the disruption of their gut by nasty food can and will kill them in many cases.

Is Pumpkin Safe for Bunnies, Too?

Yes, it is, but only when they’re old enough to start eating solid food. Normally this is around 12 weeks of age, but considering how sugary pumpkin is I recommend you give it a little bit longer, about 14 weeks.

Give them only a single, tiny bite to start and observe closely to see if there are any problems arising. Any change whatsoever in their eating habits or any loose stools is a sign to stop immediately. If it doesn’t self-correct, get them to the vet at once.

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