Rabbits are becoming more and more popular as pets today. They are small, quiet, cute, and – perhaps most importantly – they are capable of being potty-trained.
Another perk of owning a rabbit as a pet is that rabbits can eat many of the same foods that people enjoy. This can make it a lot easier to shop and prepare food for your rabbit.
Many rabbit owners wonder which “people foods” are safe for their rabbits to eat. For example, can rabbits eat cucumbers? Let’s find out!
Can Rabbits Eat Cucumbers
As The Cape Coop points out, Rabbits can eat cucumbers safely. Rabbits are herbivores, which means they need a diet of plant-based food to stay healthy.
However, cucumbers are not suitable for frequent or free-feeding. You should only offer very small quantities of cucumber occasionally. And you need to be sure your rabbit is old enough before offering cucumber.
Read on to learn much more specific recommendations for feeding cucumber to your rabbit.
Watch Rabbits Eating Cucumbers for the First Time
As this adorable YouTube video clearly showcases, rabbits adore eating cucumbers. Their crunching sounds really speak louder than words in this case.
But it is a good idea to feed your rabbit a cucumber? Are cucumbers good for rabbits? And if yes, how often can you offer fresh cucumbers to your rabbit? This is what we will talk about in the rest of this article.
When Can You Feed Cucumbers to Your Rabbit
As House Rabbit Diet explains, very young rabbits should be fed a much stricter diet than adult rabbits.
A young rabbit’s body, including the immune system and gastrointestinal system, is still developing and maturing. So offering too many foods can result in gastrointestinal distress or illness.
Once your rabbit is six months old, you can start to offer very small quantities of fresh vegetables, including cucumber.
The best way to start is by offering cucumber on its own in very small quantities. Then wait 24 hours after your rabbit has tried cucumber to see how your pet responds.
As long as you don’t see any signs of tummy upset or diarrhea, it is likely that your rabbit has tolerated cucumber very well. Then you can add it to the regular fresh foods treat rotation.
How Often to Give Your Rabbit Fresh Cucumber
As House Rabbit Society explains, fresh cucumber should never be offered as more than an occasional treat food.
Rabbits should eat mainly hay grasses, which most closely replicate the type of diet a wild rabbit would eat.
These tough, fibrous grasses help to keep the teeth filed down, provide plenty of enriching vitamins and minerals, and help maintain optimal gastrointestinal balance.
A rabbit’s whole digestive system has evolved over many centuries to survive quite well on this type of diet. While wild rabbits might come across more moisture-rich fresh foods like cucumber, it would be a rarity at best.
This means that cucumber should be fed sparingly. A good guideline is to offer cucumber once per week as part of a regular fresh foods rotation. Offer one tablespoon diced cucumber for a large rabbit and one teaspoon for a small rabbit.
What Nutrients Do Cucumbers Provide to Rabbits
One teaspoon or one tablespoon doesn’t sound like a very big serving, of course. But then again, your rabbit is a lot smaller than you are! This is a lot of fresh, watery food for your small pet’s gastrointestinal tract to process.
However, cucumbers are worth feeding and not just because rabbits seem to love them.
Cucumbers have some valuable nutrients as well as hydration to offer your pet rabbit. And because of that high water content, cucumbers are very low in calories, so they can be offered without any risk of weight gain.
WebMD outlines the nutrients provided in cucumber as follows:
- A whole half-cup of cucumbers only contains eight calories.
- The water content in cucumber is 95 percent.
- Cucumbers contain trace amounts of Vitamin A.
- Cucumbers are rich in phytonutrients, or lignans, which have disease-fighting properties.
- Cucumbers contain a small amount of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates.
- Cucumbers have a healthy amount of Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting.
- Cucumbers are an important source of magnesium, manganese and potassium.
- Cucumbers also provide disease-fighting antioxidants.
Why Rabbits Love Cucumbers
As Best Friends Animal Society explains, while the hay is the main dietary staple for rabbits, rabbits reliably love vegetables.
Vegetables are a true treat for an animal that mostly spends its life chowing down on tough grasses.
It is safe to feed your adult rabbit up to two cups per day of fresh vegetables. But as we pointed out earlier here, cucumber should only make up a very small percentage of that portion – one teaspoon to one tablespoon at most.
And you should never feed cucumber together with other vegetables the very first time you offer it. If your rabbit has any type of reaction, you won’t know what is causing it unless you isolate each new vegetable food first.
Once you know that your rabbit tolerates cucumber well, you can add a very small amount to a vegetable “salad” mixture along with other vegetables your rabbit tolerates well.
Or you can continue to feed cucumber on its own if you prefer.
Overall, it is important to provide your pet rabbit with a wide variety of fresh vegetables, as Animal Trust explains.
This is the best approach to make sure your rabbit takes in the full complement of trace minerals, nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins that will keep your pet healthy.
Can Rabbits Eat the Cucumber Skin and Seeds
Cucumbers have thick, dark skin and soft translucent seeds. Are these safe for your rabbit to eat?
This is a smart question as the seeds and peel of many types of products can be toxic.
However, cucumber skin and seeds are perfectly safe for rabbits to eat. Morever, the dark skin is the most nutritious part of the cucumber where most of the minerals and vitamins are located.
Plus, the tougher, fibrous skin of the cucumber is very beneficial for keeping a rabbit’s continuously growing incisors filed down. Rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout life, which is part of what drives a rabbit’s need to constantly chew.
If you don’t provide your rabbit with enough tough and challenging items to chew on, both food and toys, the teeth can get overgrown and start to cause health problems for your pet.
How to Prepare Cucumbers for Your Rabbit
The best way to serve cucumber to your rabbit for the first time is to follow these steps.
First, wash the cucumber well to remove any trace toxins or pesticides. If at all possible, only feed organic cucumber. But you should still wash it well before serving.
Next, measure out a small serving – a teaspoon at most. For an adult rabbit, you can feed a small teaspoon-equivalent chunk of cucumber. Alternately, you can dice the cucumber up into even smaller chunks.
Always serve cucumber raw with the skin on. Rabbits should not eat cooked cucumber.
You can just put the portion of cucumber into a small dish or onto a flat surface where your rabbit can easily reach out.
Do Rabbits Like Cucumber
Most rabbit owners say that their rabbits really enjoy eating fresh cucumber, which is a moisture-rich treat.