Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon? What You Need To Know.

Categorized as Bunny Diet Tagged
A white new zealand rabbit eating a watermelon on the ground
can rabbits eat watermelon?

Last Updated on August 23, 2021 by Rei

As far as treats go, watermelon is definitely a contender as the best treats according to Tyr and Freya(my babies). As all of you know, rabbits love anything that has sugar in it.

As a result, a lot of rabbit owners tend to overfeed them sugary treats because they see how excited their pets are. The problem is that rabbits don’t know what’s good for them and would likely eat the whole watermelon if you allow them.

However, a rabbit’s digestive system is not designed to process large amounts of sugar and would likely make them sick if they consume too much. This is especially true for rabbits that are young or less than 7 months old.

Therefore, as a responsible rabbit owner, it’s your job to limit the amount you give them. The recommended diet for rabbits is 80-90% hay, 5-10% leafy greens, and 1-0% treats.

In short, yes, rabbits can eat watermelon. But only give them to adult rabbits in small amounts as treats and remove any seed. Watermelon contains large amounts of sugar and would cause diarrhea if you feed them too much.

What are the benefits of feeding watermelon and its rind to rabbits?

Four slices of watermelon

Gist:

Watermelon contains vitamins and minerals that are great for rabbits. But it also contains a lot of sugar. Only feed watermelon as a treat.


Watermelon contains vitamins A, E, and B6 which are great for rabbits. Watermelon also contains minerals like calcium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.

Warning:

Although watermelon has these benefits, overfeeding your rabbit is not recommended. This is only to inform you of the different nutrients your rabbit can get when you give them watermelon.

While there are a lot of vitamins and minerals a watermelon can provide to your pet rabbit. It also contains a lot of sugar.

Rabbit’s digestive system is not made to consume large amounts of sugar and could cause diarrhea and increased mortality, especially to young rabbits.

How much watermelon can a rabbit eat?

Only feed your rabbits small amounts of watermelon or none at all. Since watermelon contains large amounts of sugar, feeding them too much can cause problems like refusing to eat their regular food because they’re expecting treats. Or worse, a bout of diarrhea which can be fatal to rabbits especially if they’re young.

As for the amount, you should only give your rabbit 1 tablespoon of sugary treats per 4 pounds of your rabbit’s body weight. Then no more sugary treats for a few days.

Here’s a table to help you decide how much sugary treats you should limit giving to your rabbits:

Rabbit’s weight based on breedAllowed sugary treats
Small breed (1.1–3.5 pounds)1 teaspoon
Medium breed (6 to 10 pounds)1-2 tablespoon
Large breed ( 9 and 12 pounds)2-3 tablespoon
Source: Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.

Another factor you should consider when deciding how much watermelon your rabbits can eat is its age.

Adult or fully grown rabbits

Adult rabbits or rabbits that are more than 7 months old can be given small amounts of treats based on their weight.

For small breeds of rabbits that are 1.1-3.5 pounds, you can give them 1 teaspoon of watermelon 1 times a week.

For medium breeds of rabbits that are 6-10 pounds, you can give them 1-2 tablespoons of watermelon 1-2 times a week.

For large breeds or rabbits that are 1.1-3.5 pounds, you can give them 2-3 tablespoons of watermelon 1-2 times a week.

Finally, when giving your adult rabbit watermelon for the first time, remember to give it to your rabbit slowly.

Giving your rabbit too much watermelon when their gut flora is not yet used to it could cause diarrhea.

Young or growing bunnies

Young rabbits or bunnies that are less than 7 months old should not be given any watermelon. Bunnies should only focus on eating hay.

Feeding rabbits watermelon could trigger a bout of diarrhea because their gut flora is not yet used to digesting sugar or starch.

Pregnant or lactating rabbits

Pregnant or lactating rabbits can eat watermelons. But it’s better to not give them any watermelons during pregnancy or when they’re lactating.

During pregnancy, rabbits should focus on getting their required nutrition. It’s better to only feed your rabbit hay, herbs, and vegetables during pregnancy.

When can rabbits start eating watermelon?

A young white rabbit standing in the garden looking for watermelons.

Gist:

When they are fully grown or more than 7 months old and are healthy.


The number one reason young or growing rabbits get sick is because of owners feeding them the wrong food. Young rabbits, especially those that are less than 7 months old cant process sugar and starch properly.

As a result, too many treats could cause diarrhea which is almost always fatal to young rabbits. Just stick to feeding them hay when they are young to keep them healthy.

In addition, if you’re planning on giving your rabbits watermelon, give it to them slowly so that your rabbit’s stomach can adjust to the new food you’re giving them. Because giving them too much too fast can also upset your rabbit’s stomach and cause diarrhea.

When should you not feed watermelon to rabbits?

A young holland lop rabbit trying to rest after eating a watermelon.

Gist:

You should not feed your rabbit’s watermelon if they have diarrhea or if they are less than 7 months old.


Young or growing rabbits cannot process large amounts of sugar. That’s why it’s important that you only give it to them as a treat and when they are fully grown.

Moreover, when you notice any changes in your rabbit’s poop, you should stop feeding them any other food except hay and bring them to a veterinarian that works with rabbits.

When you feed your rabbits sugary treats like watermelon when they already have diarrhea is dangerous because their gut flora’s balance is already disrupted.

Risks of overfeeding watermelon to rabbits.

Uneaten caecotrophs

Overfeeding your rabbit watermelon can cause your rabbit to not eat enough hay. This in turn could lead to uneaten caecotrophs, which happens due to a low fiber diet.

Obesity

Another risk of overfeeding watermelon and other sugary treats to rabbits is obesity. watermelon is high in sugar and can cause obesity if fed in large amounts for a long time.

Gastrointestinal stasis

Gastrointestinal stasis is the most dangerous risk when overfeeding rabbits low fiber diet. Watermelon is especially bad because not only is it low in fiber, which is important to rabbits’ gut health, watermelon is also high in starch and sugar which could increase the risk of gastrointestinal stasis.

If your rabbit is suffering from GI stasis, immediately bring your rabbit to a veterinarian.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is also possible when a rabbit is fed large amounts of sugar and starch because it could cause an imbalance in the rabbit’s gut flora.

If your rabbit is suffering from diarrhea, imminently bring your rabbit to a veterinarian.

Great alternatives to watermelon.

While watermelon is a great treat, it’s still best to have a variety of fruits to choose from. Here are some alternatives that you can give to your rabbits one to two times per week as a treat:

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Can rabbits eat watermelon peel?

    Yes, watermelon peel/rind is safe to feed to rabbits. In fact, it’s much better for them because it contains less sugar. But it’s still important that you only feed them at a reasonable amount.

  2. Can rabbits eat watermelon vines?

    Yes, watermelon vines are safe to feed to rabbits. But we recommend you only give it to them to nibble. Don’t make watermelon vines a major part of your rabbit’s diet.

  3. Can rabbits eat watermelon leaves?

    Yes, watermelon leaves are not poisonous to rabbits. But you should not make a habit of feeding it to them. Only feed them small amounts.

  4. Can rabbits eat watermelon seed?

    No, watermelon seed could cause intestinal blockage because it’s too small. You should not feed your rabbit any watermelon seed.

  5. Can rabbits eat watermelon rinds?

    Yes, rabbits can eat the rinds of watermelon. In fact, the watermelon rind is actually much better for your rabbits than the flesh because the watermelon rind has less sugar and more fiber.

Conclusion

Watermelon is safe to be eaten by rabbits as occasional treats. Just make sure that you only give it to them when they are fully grown or more than 7 months old.

Additionally, make sure that they are healthy and doesn’t have any digestive issue like diarrhea because feeding them sugary treats when they have diarrhea would make it worse.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 16, 2021) Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon? What You Need To Know.. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/can-rabbits-eat-watermelon/.
"Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon? What You Need To Know.." Bunny Horde - November 16, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/can-rabbits-eat-watermelon/

Sources

  • Meredith, Anna, et al. BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine. British Small Animal Veterinary Association, 2014.
  • Smith, Martin H, et al. “Rabbits – From the Animal’s Point of View, 3: Rabbit Nutrition.” EScholarship, University of California, 3 Jan. 2018, escholarship.org/uc/item/942046xj.
  • 997.
  • Patry, Karen, et al. The Rabbit-Raising Problem Solver: Your Questions Answered about Housing, Feeding, Behavior, Health Care, Breeding, and Kindling. Storey Publishing, 2014.
  • RABBIT NUTRITION – AN OVERVIEW – Vet Times. www.vettimes.co.uk/app/uploads/wp-post-to-pdf-enhanced-cache/1/rabbit-nutrition-an-overview.pdf.
  • Basic Rabbit Care
  • Nutrition of the Rabbit, 3rd Edition.
  • Gastrointestinal stasis