You want your rabbits to be healthy. One important factor is a nutritious diet. You may be wondering if you should only feed them standard rabbit food, or if certain foods made for human consumption can be useful. Watermelon is one example you may be considering.
Nutrition In Watermelon
Watermelon has some nutritional value. One cup of diced watermelon contains 17% daily value of Vitamin A, 20% daily value of Vitamin C, and 170 mg potassium. It also contains smaller amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, dietary fiber, and Vitamin B6.
Can Rabbits Eat Watermelon?
There are many different foods listed as safe for rabbits. Watermelon is on this list. However, whether you are feeding pet rabbits or wild rabbits, there are reasons watermelon should only be offered in small amounts as an occasional treat.
Rabbit food is made specifically for rabbits, but human food is not. It is recommended that a rabbit’s diet contains no more than 10% fruit. Despite the nutritional value of watermelon, rabbits need a wider range of nutrients than can be found in this fruit. For a balanced diet and adequate nutrition, the majority of a rabbit’s diet should be traditional rabbit food.
There are other nutrients in watermelon that are not as healthy for your rabbits. One example is the high sugar content. Each cup contains 9 grams of sugar. While the dietary fiber is useful for healthy digestion, the sugar content can lead to an upset stomach.
A second example is the sodium content. A trace amount of sodium can be a healthy addition to the rabbit’s diet, but too much sodium can cause problems. Too much sodium can affect the rabbit’s urination, and cause excessive thirst. At its worst, it can lead to sodium poisoning.
Rabbits And Watermelon: To Feed Or Not To Feed?
If the rabbit’s diet consists mainly of traditional rabbit food, it is generally not harmful to allow him to have watermelon. If you plan to give him watermelon, though, you should keep some important points in mind.
Adult-aged pet rabbits fare best with watermelon. It is not advised to feed it to baby rabbits, as they have different nutritional needs. Wild rabbits that have not consumed fruit may experience digestive problems if they are suddenly introduced to fruit.
When you feed your rabbit watermelon, make sure the fruit is fresh. It should not be wilted, nor should it be frozen and thawed. Organic watermelon is best for rabbits. While this is easier if you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can also choose organic watermelon from your local market. The organic fruit has not been grown with pesticides or chemical fertilizers that could be harmful to your pet.
Some rabbits enjoy watermelon rinds and leaves as much as the fruit itself. In fact, rinds and leaves can be better for your rabbit than the actual fruit. Your rabbit can benefit from the fiber, and will not risk the stomach upset that can result from the high sugar content of the fruit.
When you give watermelon to your rabbit, make sure to remove all of the seeds. Seeds can cause an intestinal blockage, or the rabbit may choke while eating seeds.
If you have decided to introduce your rabbit to this special treat, you should limit the amount he eats and how often he eats it. A sensible approach is to give him a two-inch by two-inch serving, no more than once or twice each week.
Why Give Your Rabbit Watermelon?
Rabbits like treats the same as any pet or human. One approach is to give him watermelon as a special bonding experience. When you are with him during this period of time, you can easily see if it is causing any negative effects.
Treats should not be given as a reward for good behavior. Similar to any other pet, the rabbit will quickly associate good behavior with treats. He may start to expect a treat, and may even start showing bad behavior if he does not get one.
Treats like watermelon should not make up a rabbit’s entire diet, or even a large percentage of it. His diet should consist mainly of a high-quality rabbit food that is high in nutritional value.
You can enjoy your rabbits longer when you help them stay healthy. Your little friends can be with you for many years, and they will have a lower risk of health problems when you are cautious about their diet. Your rabbits can eat watermelon, but only in moderation.