Butternut squash (butternut pumpkin or gramma) is one of the Cucurbita moschata cultivar winter squash (harvested after maturity) that very popular in North America. It has nutty-tasting orange pulpy flesh that becomes sweeter and deeper as it ripens, and its skin becomes tan-yellowish.
This botanical fruit but culinary vegetable may be pureed for soup, roasted, sautéed, or mashed and used in bread, muffins, pies, casseroles, and so on or a Monarch butterfly diet. Please don’t confuse it with butternut or white walnut tree (Juglans cinerea), which shares the same name.
Can bunnies eat them?
Yes. Rabbits can eat butternut squash as an occasional treat, together with its skin but without seeds. Feed your bunny about two small pieces or dices, 1-2 times a week. They are a good part of non-leafy vegetables to give your rabbit.
Seeds may choke your furry friend and are very unhealthy. They are very high in fats, yet bunnies need 1-3% in their diet and carbohydrates. They will fatten your bunny and may hurt their digestive system.
Nutritionally, these winter squashes have vitamin A (including beta-Carotene), vitamins B6, C, and E and magnesium and manganese. They also have smaller amounts of thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, potassium, iron, and calcium.
Also, butternut has potent antioxidants like vitamin C and E as well as beta-Carotene that may offer protection against some chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease, mental deterioration, among others.
Finally, even if your rabbit seems to like this winter squash so much, don’t be tempted to give them more because of the following reasons:
- It is low in fiber, unlike fresh hay. An excessive amount may result in stomach upsets, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and so on. Also, they will not offer any dental benefits.
- It is high in carbohydrates, standing at 34g per 100g. Excessive carbs will overload their cecum causing enteritis and may fatten your rabbit.
Vines and flowers
You can feed butternut squash stems, leaves, and flowers. Leaves and even stems will be an excellent addition to the leafy greens you provide these animals. You need to chop 5-6 different veggies, including this squash leaves and give them a cup for every two pounds of their body weight.
On the other hand, give them flowers sparingly as a treat. Depending on the size, give them 1-2 if tinny or half a flower for those that are larger. Since they tend to be larger, ensure you don’t give them too much.
Finally, while they will like and eat them, butternut leaves are not their most favored leafy greens.
Butternut squashes are, without a doubt, very nutritious. Also, being sweet-tasting, your bunny may like them. These animals have a sweet tooth too. However, proper diet and in the right proportion is a must. Here is how to feed your rabbits:
- Fresh hay – They should have at least 80% of fresh hay every day. Go for grassy ones like timothy or oats. Only give them alfalfa or legume hays if they are nursing, growing, or pregnant.
- Fresh foods – Fresh foods include leafy veggies and plants and non-leafy veggies, fruits, flowers, and herbs. They should be 10-15% with a large percentage (at least 75%) being leafy ones.
- Pellets – Feed them high fiber pellets since they are fortified with minerals to ensure they don’t have any nutritional deficiencies. Give them 5% of their diet.
- Treats – Treats include commercial ones or fruits, non-leafy veggies like this squash, herbs, and flowers. They should be anything from 0-5%.