Can bunnies eat cucumber? Yes, bunnies can indeed have cucumbers. However, rabbits can only eat organic cucumber — grown in your garden or purchased from a store or market.
Read on to learn more about how to safely feed cucumber to pet rabbits.
Is Cucumber Safe for Rabbits?
Rabbits are often associated with lettuce and other leafy vegetables.
“Bugs Bunny” always has a carrot hanging from his mouth. And the phrase “eating like a rabbit” has been used many a time to describe someone who is eating a salad of fresh vegetables.
Have you ever munched on a cucumber and found yourself wondering, “can rabbits eat cucumber, too?” or “can bunnies have cucumber?”
If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone!
Fresh vegetables — such as cucumber — that are safe for rabbits should be a part of their balanced diet. As you may already know, rabbits’ natural diet includes a large percentage of hays.
A pet bunny should also have at least three different kinds of vegetables on their menu each day. Cucumber slices would make a fine addition to the rotation.
So, in answer to your question, “can rabbits eat cucumber,” cucumber is indeed safe for rabbits. Rabbits’ cucumber, however, must be commercially grown — the kind that you grow in your garden.
Additionally, rabbits should only eat cucumber when it’s free from pesticides and fertilizers. Some of the chemical sprays used to grow cucumbers may be toxic to rabbits, so it’s best to feed them organic cucumber.
Still, you should exercise care when feeding organic cucumbers. It can be bad for rabbits, only if you feed them in excessive quantities. Or if you introduce cucumbers to their diet too quickly.
Let’s look at cucumber for rabbits in more detail.
Rabbits and Cucumber
Like many fresh vegetables, such as lettuce and celery, cucumber is primarily made up of water. In fact, a cucumber is approximately 95% water! So, can rabbits have cucumber?
Well, it’s important for rabbits to stay hydrated, so chopped cucumber can give your bunny the boost they need. This is especially so on those hot summer days.
Cucumber is also naturally fat-free and low-calorie, making it a great option for your bunny’s healthy diet. Half a cup of sliced cucumber boasts just 10 calories.
Since pet rabbits are generally prone to obesity, feeding fresh vegetables and leafy greens as the bulk of your bunny’s diet is recommended.
However, there is one issue with feeding your rabbit lots of water-rich vegetables (like cucumbers) or failing to introduce them slowly . Doing this can cause your bunny to have soft cecotropes. Cecotropes can affect your bunny’s digestion, but we’ll talk more on those later.
Do Rabbits Like Cucumber?
So we know the answer to “can rabbits eat cucumber?” is yes. But do they want to?
Cucumber, rabbits — they go hand in hand, right? Can you feed a rabbit cucumber?
Although rabbits will eat cucumbers, if they had to choose between the fruit and the leafy part of the plant, they might favor the latter. This is thanks to their love for all things grassy and hay-like.
Is Cucumber Bad for Rabbits?
As mentioned earlier, excess cucumber in your bunny’s diet can affect their digestion. That’s where cecotropes come in. Cecotropes are a nutrient-rich matter consisting of partially digested food particles. Bunnies produce cecotropes in the cecum — an area of their digestive tract.
Rabbits defecate cecotropes, then ingest them, to get the remaining nutrients from their food. These would be nutrients that they didn’t get from simply eating their food the first time.
Cecotropes are an essential part of your bunny’s diet due to their vitamin B nutrient content. Rabbits cannot produce this vitamin on their own. Besides vitamin B, cecotropes contain about 28-30% crude protein as well as high nitrogen and amino acid content.
Where do cucumbers come in? Well, cucumber fruits and foliage have high water and fiber content, which can cause a rabbit to produce loose cecotropes. Loose cecotropes are harder for your bunny to ingest and use.
Therefore, bunnies unable to ingest cecotropes lose valuable nutrients such as vitamin B.
So, again we ask, can rabbits have cucumber? Yes, just in moderation. It’s best to feed bunnies the appropriate balance of moisture-rich foods and dryer foods. This way your bunny can avoid tummy troubles.
Is Cucumber Good for Rabbits?
Overall, yes. It provides fiber, vitamins, and useful minerals for rabbits, as long as it is not excessively consumed.
Can Bunnies Eat Cucumber Peels?
Now, we’re no longer wondering, “do rabbits eat cucumbers,” here’s a new question: Can rabbits eat cucumber peels safely too? Yes, rabbits can eat cucumber peels (skin).
The peels are actually best left on the cucumber pieces that you give to your bunny, as they can provide a nutritional boost!
As luck would have it, cucumber skin contains high amounts of fiber, which is important for maintaining your rabbit’s digestive system.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, rabbits require at least 15% crude fiber in their diet.
Do Rabbits Eat Cucumber Plants (Leaves and Blossoms)?
So if cucumber is safe, can rabbits eat cucumber leaves and blossoms? Yes, rabbits can and will eat cucumber leaves or blossoms.
In fact, in most cases, bunnies are more inclined to go for the nutrient-dense foliage and shoots of vegetables, as opposed to the actual fruits.
Furthermore, leafy greens should make up roughly 75% of your bunny’s allotted fresh food for the day.
Cucumber leaves (and a variety of other greens) could count toward this goal.
Can Rabbits Eat Cucumber Seeds?
Yes, they can! Cucumber seeds are super small and soft — unlikely to cause choking. They also, unlike some other seeds, do not contain any poisonous chemicals. So feel free to let your bunny eat cucumber seeds.
Can Rabbits Eat Unwashed Cucumber?
This is not safe.
Rabbits are sensitive to pesticides and other chemicals which may be present on harvested veggies. Therefore, be sure to wash veggies first. Even if they’re organic ones from your own garden, wash them with cold water before letting your bunny nibble on them.
Can Baby Rabbits Eat Cucumber?
No, until they’re older than 12 weeks of age, baby rabbits should not eat cucumber.
Their diets instead should be largely made up of their mother’s milk and water. Then at about seven weeks, they may eat alfalfa hays or pellets. When they hit six months old, they can begin chomping on grass hays.
Baby rabbits cannot digest fruits and vegetables until they’ve gotten cecotropes from their mother’s soft pellets. So avoid feeding them such to prevent potentially fatal tummy issues.
Can Bunnies Eat Cucumber Every Day?
Knowing the consequences of excess cucumber consumption for rabbits, it is best to avoid feeding your rabbit cucumber every day. Also, be sure to introduce this veggie slowly, to ensure your rabbit responds favorably.
When you first give your bunny cucumber, just give them a thin slice once every couple of days. You can gradually increase the quantity over a period of weeks. But never give them more than a few small slices in one sitting.
Rabbit Cucumber Treats
The best way to feed your rabbits cucumber is as thin slices of the fresh vegetable. However, you may also serve the slices or peels as part of a main meal of hays for your bunny.
Alternatives to Cucumber for Rabbits
Cucumbers are far from being the only safe veggies for rabbits. A few other veggies you can safely feed your bunny include:
Can Rabbits Eat Cucumber: Summary
One last time: can rabbits eat cucumber? Yes, cucumber is safe for rabbits and is a tasty treat that many will happily munch on (wild bunnies included).
You should ensure that the cucumber (and any fresh vegetable you feed your pet bunny) has not been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals, as these may be toxic to your bunny.
Remember to wash veggies, even organic ones with cold water before letting your bunny nibble on them.
Although cucumber fruits and foliage are healthy and may be fed to your bunny, they have a high water and fiber content, which can cause a rabbit to produce loose cecotropes.
Bunnies need cecotropes in order to extract nutrients such as vitamin B, which they do not produce. And, loose cecotropes are difficult for bunnies to eat, so keep cucumbers as a minor portion of their diets.
Have you given cucumber to your rabbit? You can let us know about your experiences with rabbits and cucumber in the comments below.
References and Further Reading
- Brown, S. “Suggested Vegetables and Fruits for a Rabbit’s Diet”.
- McClure, D. “Providing a Home for a Rabbit”. Merck Veterinary Manual.
- The Humane Society of the United States. “Rabbit Vegetables”.
- Department of Agriculture.
- VeterinaryPartner.com, Susan Brown, DVM, Intermittent Soft Cecotropes in Rabbits
- Dana Krempels, Ph.D., The Mystery of Rabbit Poop
- Pet Coach. Rabbit Nutrition: Diet Requirements and Feeding Rabbits at Different Life Stages. Drs. Foster and Smith.
Can Rabbits Eat Cucumber has been extensively revised for 2019.