Understanding what squashes are is vital before we look at whether rabbits can eat them or not. These are herbaceous vines that belong to the Cucurbita genus and a gourd family known as Cucurbitaceae.
Although botanically they are considered as fruits, in culinary, they are taken to be vegetables cultivated for their seeds, fruits or leaves. Not all of them are edible by human beings.
There are five domesticated species with edible fruits which are C. maxima, C. ficifolia, C. pepo, C. moschata, C. argyrosperma. Each of these species has different varieties which can be considered as summer or winter squashes. The former types are harvested while immature with their rind soft and edible while the latter are collected after the fruit fully matures, their rind hardens, and seeds mature too.
Examples of summer squashes include scallop, straightneck, zucchinis, crookneck, cocozelle, and vegetable marrow while winter ones include Delicata, pumpkins, acorn, Kabocha, spaghetti, butternut, Cabalaza, among many others. Some such as the vegetable marrow can be winter or summer depending on when they are harvested.
The types may have other local names that are related to where they are cultivated. We will not list all the various types.
Some of the nutrients these fruits have include carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin C, B6, riboflavin, fiber, phosphorus, folate and so on. The exact nutrients might vary depending on the specific kind in question.
Do rabbits eat squash?
Yes. Rabbits can eat squash and several other members of the Cucurbitaceae family including zucchinis, melons such as watermelons, cucumbers, among others. However, they should be given in small amounts as treats and once in a few days. Typically, a teaspoon is enough for a bunny that weighs about two pounds.
If you intend to start giving your furry friend squash, you need to begin with small amounts and observe how their tummy is going to react to them. Check for any signs of diarrhea, bloating, gas or stomach upsets after about 24 hours. If they do not affect them, you can slowly increase the quantity to the recommended one.
Before serving them squash, wash it thoroughly and cut it into small pieces to make it easy for your rabbit to eat them. If they like it, you can use it as a treat for litter training, in logic toys to keep them alert or to develop a bond, especially while you are socializing with them.
Finally, it is recommended you remove pits or seeds in case of the winter squashes since they have fully matured and may present a choking hazard. For the summer ones, you can ignore them if they are soft.
Why should you limit the amount?
Bunnies are grazing herbivores, and their digestive system is designed to digest foods that have high fiber, low sugar, and fats. However, squash has a higher amount of sugar and a considerable amount of carbohydrates besides being highly calorific.
The sugar and carbs will present a digestion problem including imbalanced bacteria and fungi in your bunny’s gut that might result in stomach upsets, diarrhea, bloating, gas and other health conditions.
Secondly, being highly calorific, giving them more means they will gain weight, and they may become obese.
What about skin, leaves, and plants?
Bunnies can squash and its peels. You do not need to peel the skin of this fruit. The peeled skin can be given in amounts as treats.
On leave and squash plants, they are not one of their favorite foods, and they will cause minimal damage even when in the garden. This is in line with what the University of Illinois states, “a few crops, corn, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes suffer little damage from rabbits.”