Watermelon might not first spring to mind when you think about the best bunny treats.
But if you catch your house rabbit eyeing you as you cut up this large, unofficial fruit of the summer barbeque, you might wonder if watermelon is safe for rabbits.
You watch bunny begging; is it safe to let him have just a little piece? Could feeding your rabbit watermelon rind be a good way to reduce waste?
On this page you’ll find fact-packed answers to the following questions:
- Is watermelon safe for rabbits?
- Can rabbits eat watermelon rind (skin) or seeds?
- What are the benefits of feeding watermelon to rabbits?
- How much watermelon should a rabbit have?
- Are there problems with feeding watermelon to bunnies?
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon?
Yes, rabbits can safely eat small amounts of watermelon. The flesh of this fruit is mostly sugar and water, so you should consider it an occasional treat.
Watermelon rind, however, is high in fiber and can make a healthy rabbit snack. Watermelon spoils quickly; only give it to your rabbits if it’s freshly cut.
What parts of a watermelon can rabbits eat?
Rabbits can eat the pink and white flesh of a watermelon, as well as the green skin. The seeds of a watermelon are not safe for rabbits to eat unless they are ground first.
If you grow watermelon in your garden, avoid feeding your bunny the leaves and stems of a watermelon plant.
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon Fruit?
Most rabbits will love sharing a slice of watermelon fruit with you. Like you, they’ll enjoy the sweet red center the most – but won’t hold grudges if you give them the white section instead.
Since a healthy rabbit’s diet is mostly timothy hay, any fruit with a little bit of sugar will be a treat!
How much watermelon can rabbits eat?
You should only give your rabbit a teaspoon of watermelon at a time, or a 1” cube. The high simple sugar content in watermelon can shock your rabbit’s gut if it eats too much at once.
Only feed watermelon to adult rabbits, as babies have a harder time adapting to new foods.
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon Rind?
Watermelon rind is actually the healthiest part of the fruit. With a high fiber content and nutrients such as citrulline, magnesium, and vitamin A, watermelon skin is good for bunnies.
If you plan on giving your rabbit the skin, purchase organic watermelon. Conventionally grown melons are usually coated in wax and may contain pesticide residue that can be harmful to bunnies.
Watermelon skin should always be fresh when you feed it to your bunny. Some cultures make delicious pickles out of watermelon rind, but these are not safe for your rabbit.
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon Seeds?
Although most people spit out watermelon seeds, they are actually edible. The catch is that both humans and rabbits cannot digest them whole.
When a human eats a whole watermelon seed, it will pass through undigested without causing any problems. But in a rabbit that has a much smaller GI tract, whole watermelon seeds can get lodged and cause dangerous blockages.
I can’t find any evidence that says your rabbit shouldn’t share a nibble of your watermelon seed butter, but the safety of consuming watermelon seeds has not been studied in rabbits. It’s best to pick the seeds out before giving watermelon to your bun.
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon Leaves?
You should also avoid giving your rabbit the leaves or vines of a watermelon plant (Citrullus lanatus.) Watermelon is a member of the broad cucurbit family, which includes melons, cucumbers, and squash.
The leaves of some cucurbit plants are edible. Zucchini leaves, for example, make healthy salad for bunnies. But the leaves of some other melons contain bitter and harmful compounds.
Watermelon leaves might not hurt your bunny, but there isn’t good documented evidence either way. It’s better to be safe than sorry; do not feed your rabbit watermelon leaves.
Benefits of Watermelon For Rabbits
- High in Potassium
One of the under-appreciated things about watermelon is its high potassium content. Potassium is crucial for cardiovascular function and maintaining healthy fluid levels within the cell wall.
Watermelon is gram-for-gram higher in potassium than a banana. Feeding watermelon is an easy way to get some of this essential mineral into your rabbit.
- Rinds are High in Fiber
Rabbit owners are always looking for ways to add fiber to their rabbits’ diets. Watermelon rind is an excellent source of dietary fiber.
Watermelon rind is so high in cellulose (fiber) that your rabbit might not want to eat it. But chewing on and playing with the rind may keep him entertained for a while.
- Watermelon is Hydrating
Remember the high potassium content? This and the other natural electrolytes found in watermelon make it a super hydrating fruit.
Watermelon is 92% water, and since it’s packaged with electrolytes, it’s more effective than plain water at helping a rabbit stay hydrated.
- Fun Treat for Clicker Training
Watermelon is easy to cut into bite-sized cubes, and your bunny may find the flavor addictive. This makes it a great treat to use as a reward when clicker training your rabbit.
- Bond With Your Bunny Over Watermelon
My favorite thing about feeding watermelon to my rabbit is that it’s a treat we both genuinely enjoy. Most of my favorite foods – did someone say oatmeal cookies? – aren’t safe for rabbits at all.
And while there are many foods that both rabbits and humans can eat, I have to admit that I don’t really crave munching on dandelion greens or raw bok choy.
So it’s ultra-satisfying and becomes a heartwarming bonding moment when Biscuit sits in my lap and we relish a slice of fresh, juicy watermelon together.
Cautions About Feeding Watermelon to Rabbits
Watermelon fruit is not poisonous for rabbits. However, I’d be remiss to not offer a few cautions regarding feeding watermelon to bunnies:
Watermelon is Sticky
I tell you, there’s nothing cuter than watching a bunny chomp-chomp-chomp away at a tiny bite of watermelon, with drops of sweet juice dribbling down his furry chin. But the sugar and water content in watermelon is a recipe for a mess.
After giving your rabbit watermelon, don’t try to wash his face or paws. Baths can be dangerous for rabbits, destroying the protective qualities of their coats. It’s better to give your bunny some quiet time to groom himself; rabbits hate being sticky.
Watermelon Can Spoil Quickly
Due to the high level of sugar with no fiber to stabilize it, watermelon flesh seems to spoil much faster than other cut fruits – even in the fridge.
Rabbits’ delicate digestive systems are very sensitive to mold or bacterial pathogens that can grow on spoiled fruit. It’s best to only offer your rabbit fresh-cut watermelon.
Throw away any leftover watermelon that has foamy or milky-looking juice, or a sour smell.
Don’t Feed Too Much Watermelon at Once
Too much watermelon can be laxative for humans and disastrous for bunnies. Especially for weanling rabbits, who don’t have stable digestive flora yet, consuming more than a teaspoonful of watermelon at a time can cause tummy problems.
When you give your rabbit watermelon, avoid giving him other sugary fruits on the same day. If, after feeding watermelon, your rabbit has diarrhea, loses his appetite, or feels sick in general, withhold all fruits and vegetables and give him nothing but high-quality timothy hay until he’s feeling better.
When served correctly, watermelon is a fabulous treat for rabbits. Its water and potassium content helps bunnies stay hydrated on hot days, and the skin provides beneficial fiber. Sharing a slice of this classic summer fruit is a great way to bond with your bunny and encourage him to respond to clicker training. Just remember not to feed your rabbit so much watermelon that it replaces nutrient-dense foods in his diet, like kale, clover, and hay.
If you found this article informative, feel free to share it with your friends, or comment below with any questions or suggestions.