Yes, rabbits can eat squash as a treat. Since it’s a treat, you shouldn’t give your rabbit squash more than twice a week. A serving of squash is around one teaspoon for every two pounds that your rabbit weighs.
You can harvest squash in the summer and in the winter. If you have winter squash you’ll need to remove the seeds as they’re hard and high in carbohydrates and fats which makes them very unhealthy.
Varieties of Squash
There are several varieties of squash that come under either summer or winter squash.
Summer squash is harvested when it’s immature when the rind is softer and edible. Your rabbit can eat the seeds from summer squash too. On the other hand, winter squash is harvested when the fruit has fully matured, and the seeds and rind are harder.
Examples of both types of squash include:
- Summer squash: Scallop, straightneck, zucchinis, crookneck, cocozelle, and vegetable marrow.
- Winter Squash: Pumpkins, acorn, delicata, kabocha, spaghetti, butternut, and calabaza.
There are other varieties too, but these are some of the more common squashes. The good news is that all of them are safe for rabbits to eat.
Fun fact: Halloween pumpkins are a type of winter squash, and you can let your rabbits have a taste if you’re carving one for October 31st.
Squash is a tasty and nutritional treat for your rabbit.
Winter squash contains:
- Vitamins A, B6, C, and E (for muscles, bones, teeth, skin, vision, antioxidants, and more).
- Minerals like magnesium and manganese.
- Smaller amounts of thiamine, niacin, folate, potassium, iron, calcium, and pantothenic acid.
Summer squash contains:
- Vitamins A, B6, and C (which are antioxidants and also for improving vision, reproduction, and much more).
- Minerals include folate, magnesium, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium.
While there is some overlap, summer and winter squash do have some health benefits that are exclusive to their seasons. Both are beneficial as a treat.
Squash is a fruit that’s high in sugar, carbohydrates, and extremely calorific. Squashes grown in the wild can also have high levels of cucurbitacins – a toxic chemical that can cause toxic squash syndrome and be fatal for rabbits.
Problems your rabbit can get from eating squash include:
- Cucurbitacins when ingested by rabbits can cause toxic squash syndrome. Symptoms of this include restlessness, increased heart rate, labored breathing, and it can be fatal in the worst cases.
- Seeds from winter squash can cause choking and internal blockages.
- Not getting enough fiber. Squash is low in fiber (unlike hay). If your rabbit doesn’t have a fiber-rich diet it can upset their stomachs, causing diarrhea, bloating, gas, and stomach upset. A lack of fiber can also cause dental issues like overgrown teeth.
- Too many carbohydrates can lead to your rabbit gaining weight. If your rabbit becomes obese, they face issues with their skin, heart, movement, and more.
- Too much sugar. If your rabbit eats a lot of sugary food like squash, they might end up with dental problems like rotting teeth, weight gain, and a preference for sugary treats instead of their regular food.
Squash is a safe food for your rabbit, but only if it’s in moderation and if it’s not wild squash that has too many cucurbitacins on. Always monitor your rabbit when they’re eating treats and food as part of their balanced diet.
Can Rabbits Eat Squash Peel?
Yes, rabbits can eat squash peel. Also known as squash skin, this is safe for rabbits to eat as part of the treat part of their diet. You can simply cut up the squash without having to peel it to make your rabbit’s treat.
Can Rabbits Eat Squash Plants?
Yes, rabbits can eat homegrown squash stems, leaves, and flowers. Make sure you wash them thoroughly first and moderate the portion. Some rabbits don’t particularly like squash plants and might not eat them, and wild rabbits tend to give them a wild birth.
Can Rabbits Eat Squash Leaves?
Yes, rabbits can eat squash leaves. They can be given to your rabbit by themselves or mixed with other leafy greens. However, you should only let your rabbit eat squash leaves from squash that’s been cultivated for humans to avoid wild squash leaves that contain cucurbitacins (a toxic chemical).
Can Rabbits Eat Cooked Squash?
No, rabbits can’t eat cooked squash. Rabbits shouldn’t have any sort of cooked food as by cooking food, you’re changing the texture and decreasing the nutrients. As a general rule, raw fruit and vegetables are always best.
What Else Do Rabbits Eat?
Rabbits should eat hay as the largest part of their diet to get all the fiber they need. Rabbits also need fresh vegetables for all the nutrients they require. Pellets are in addition to this and help top up fiber levels. Your rabbit should always have drinking water and treats (like squash) a couple of times a week.
How to Introduce Squash to Rabbits
If your rabbit is eating squash for the first time, make sure you give them a tiny amount – half a teaspoon. Monitor them for the next day, watching out for any reaction to the squash. If all is well, you can increase the portion size next time.