A rabbit eats a herbivorous diet, meaning they feed on only leafy greens and a variety of vegetables.
Rabbit digestive systems are very different to humans, who eat an omnivorous diet, so what may be healthy for us may not be for rabbits.
Cucumbers confuse many when it comes to feeding rabbits.
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Technically a fruit, feeding cucumbers to rabbits is safe, but only in small quantities, and only once in a while.
Unlike some other fruits and veggies, cucumbers are not toxic to rabbits. And, the majority of rabbits love the watery texture and taste of cucumbers.
But, for all the positives cucumbers may have, they contain few nutrients to benefit a rabbit.
Moreover, their very high water content can result in diarrhea if excess amounts are consumed.
In general, you should only look to feed a rabbit two to three thin slices of cucumber a week. Any more, and you could upset their sensitive digestive system.
Continue reading to find out how healthy cucumber really is for rabbits.
We will discuss the health benefits and drawbacks eating cucumbers has for rabbits, as well as the parts of a cucumber plant you should and should not feed a rabbit.
Is Cucumber Safe To Feed To Rabbits?
Although cucumbers are added to many salads, they are technically a fruit, rather than a vegetable (see also our article about celery).
Produced from a cucumber plant’s flowers, these watery fruits are part of the gourd family and always grow on vines.
Humans are capable of eating cucumbers in large quantities. Even their blossoms are edible!
And, for those looking for a low fat food item, cucumbers are ideal. 96% of a cucumber is made up of water, resulting in very low calories.
And, when added to salads or sandwiches, a cucumber can add a wonderful refreshing zest to your meal.
However, humans and rabbits have very different digestive systems.
Therefore, we shouldn’t automatically think that what is good for us is good for our furry friends too.
In truth, cucumber is safe for rabbits to eat, but only in moderation.
Cucumbers contain no poisons or toxins, but too much can result in gastrointestinal problems in rabbits.
That is why you should only give a rabbit cucumber as an occasional treat.
A rabbit’s diet should consist of a wide variety of fruits, greens, and vegetables, to make it as balanced and healthy as possible.
But, hay and leafy foliage should make up the majority of a rabbit’s diet. If you want to add the occasional piece of cucumber in, though, this should not have any impact on their digestion.
Altogether, there are two main types of cucumber:
- English cucumbers
- North American cucumbers
English cucumbers tend to be harder and shorter than their North American counterparts, and, whilst rabbits find it more difficult to eat the skin of the American variety, both types of cucumber have the same nutritional value.
Cucumber may not be toxic but it is also not wholly healthy for rabbits.
The fruit has a low nutrient density and high water content, which can negatively affect a rabbit’s digestive system when eaten in large quantities.
Most of a rabbit’s diet should consist of leafy plant matter, like grass, hay, carrot tops, herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley), plant foliage (raspberry leaves), and certain weeds, such as dandelion leaves.
Leafy greens hold a lot of fiber with little water. The high fiber content in such food aids a rabbit’s digestive system and helps to push food through more easily.
Because of the cucumber’s high water content, they will not cope with such a watery type of food.
Their guts are better suited to drier vegetation, so too much water can lead to diarrhea and further serious complications.
For rabbits, there are no real health benefits from cucumbers. The 4% that isn’t made up of water only has small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
So, if a rabbit were to eat cucumber regularly, certain health issues could arise, but obesity will certainly not be one of them.
Effects Of Too Many Cucumbers
If a rabbit eats an excessive amount of cucumbers, they could suffer from the following issues:
- Weight loss – Cucumbers are very low in terms of calories. So, even if a rabbit may feel full after some cucumber, it won’t be enough to help them maintain a healthy weight.
- Diarrhea – The high water content will have an impact on a rabbit’s droppings. They may become loose, but happen more frequently. In rabbits, diarrhea can be fatal.
- Deficient in nutrients – There are not enough vitamins, minerals, and fiber in cucumbers to keep a rabbit’s body healthy.
What Parts Of Cucumbers Can Rabbits Eat?
Whether it’s a North American or English cucumber, rabbits can generally chew through the skin quite easily.
But, the harder skin of a North American cucumber may grind down a rabbit’s teeth (see also ‘How Many Teeth Do Rabbits Have?‘) over time.
The peel of a cucumber is actually more nutritious than the softer inner flesh.
It has higher levels of fiber and a lower water content, as well as higher levels of vitamins and minerals.
When it comes to cucumber skin, this can be fed to rabbits, but it must be thoroughly washed beforehand.
This is because the skin may contain some traces of pesticide residue, as well as bacteria, that could harm a rabbit.
Another part of a cucumber you can safely feed to rabbits are the seeds. These are highly nutritious, soft, and have a mild flavor that will taste great to rabbits.
Cucumber leaves can also be fed to rabbits. In fact, these are safe to feed to bunnies every day due to their low oxalic acid levels.
Compared to cucumbers, the leaves are higher in vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber.
As for cucumber flowers, these are also edible and rabbits can enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.
We recommend adding a little amount to their hay so they can graze and enjoy.
Cucumbers are safe to feed to rabbits, but only in moderation.
If you’re unsure of what to feed your rabbit, check out our other articles to ensure your bunny is getting a balanced diet.