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Rabbits Eating Their Young

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ilovetegocalderon

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I just had my buns spayed but this is something I was just curious about...sorry if it's a dumb question but if rabbits are vegetarian why is it that sometimes the mother will kill and eat her young?
 

chubbers422

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If the baby has a scent of another group/rabbit,they kill it. I forget why... I don't remember. I don't think they eat there young usually. But if the baby was to like- lay on the bars of the cage, another female rabbit could walk past and get her scent on him. The baby would most likely be killed. But they don't usually eat them.

Rachel & Chubbs :bunnydance:

P.S.: Horses are supposed to be vegetarian too-- but dang if that Cisco didn't take a chomp out of my hamburger that day!!! :Dlol.That would be funnier if it wasn't true.....
 

AmberNBuns

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*Gasp!*She killed one! (15 replies - 252 views)

Kits'Genders Are In (13 replies - 98 views)

There is a small bit of discussion about cannibalism on these topics.Nobody can be sure why it happens, but there are theories about it.Since there seems to be only slight speculation on the forum, here are some quotes from various web sites about it.

From MSUcares:
"[font="arial,helvetica,sans-serif"][size="-1"]This situation can becaused by a variety of conditions like when the does become excited by an environmental change or when the nutritional status (usually water)is restricted.[/size][/font]

[font="arial,helvetica,sans-serif"][size="-1"]Eating young often occurs when varmints, household pets, rodents, or some other unusual visitor enters the rabbitry soon after the doe has delivered her young. Thee ating of young is an instinctive survival response of the doe.Restrict all animals and visitors from entering or roaming near the rabbitry. The problems often occur at night when rodents and varmints are more active.[/size][/font]

[font="arial,helvetica,sans-serif"][size="-1"]Other concerns include a check of the water supply system to assure that adequate amounts of fresh, cool water are available and use vitamin/electrolyte supplements in the drinking water during hot periods. Adding electrolytes (salts)increases water consumption. If water is not flushed frequently from overhead water pipes during hot weather, the water may become too hot for drinking. The does may not drink enough water and cannibalism may result. All hot water in these pipes should be flushed at mid-afternoon."[/size][/font]

From gan.ca:
"Cannibalism results from the stressful and boring conditions, or because the mother cannot provide enough milk for all her young."

From rabbit.org:
"If the mother seems to be cannibalizing the nestlings,nutritional deficiencies are but one of the possible scenarios. It is normal for these vegetarian animals to eat the afterbirth, as it is for most other mammals. It prevents predators from discovering the nest and provides the mother which some much-needed nutrients. Sometimes people confuse this behavior (if it is witnessed) with cannibalism.

Sadly, if the father of the babies is much larger than the female, she could be inadvertently injuring the kits, which are too large for her birth canal, while attempting to free them. Seek immediate veterinary intervention should this be happening. The mother's life is in danger,as well as the lives of the babies."


It seems that most have similar theories about why it happens.
 

huntress

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if rabbits are vegetarian why is it that sometimes the mother will kill and eat her young?
There are various reasons for cannibalism. Improper nutrition is one, sometimes a lack of protein will cause the doe to eat her newborns.Another reason is nervous high strung does sometimes will eat their young. Also when they are severing the cord after birth they became over zealous in the cleanup job and not realize what they are doing.I'm sure there are other reasons besides the ones I listed.

One thing I have done is if I have a doe that I know is prone to cannibalism I will place a piece of raw bacon in the cage the evening before she is due to litter....it has worked for me, she doe will eat the bacon and not the babies.


 

Dolores Lindvall

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Rabbits can very well eat their kits.I don't breed any more, but I used to have a ton of rabbits.And this would happen every once in awhile. Then an old time breeder told me that if that happenedto put a little piece of raw bacon in with the doe,she would eat that andshe wouldn't eat her babies. It worked. I would imagine that hormonal changes affect everyone differently. I've worked with hogs, and have seen some sows and gilts eat their tiny babies, too. It usually happens right after giving birth, so that's why I think it's a hormonal thing.
 

AmberNBuns

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huntress, that is interesting about the bacon. I am curious if one should be concerned about trichinosis though.Have you ever had any problems with parasites in your does after eating raw meat? It is really odd that a rabbit would eat raw pork. I would be more inclined to supplement protein with a soy product or even yogurt. But I am not a breeder.

Edit: Wow - that's 2 people who use bacon. Hmmm.
 

huntress

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I've never had any health problems using the bacon and I've been breeding for over 20 yrs. My personal thoughts on this is that they seem to be attracted to the bacon because of the salt content...just my my opinion.
 

AmberNBuns

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That makes sense about the salt. I am just kind of stunned - I would have never even considered the possibility.

In light of the fact that a doe would eat a piece of raw bacon after kindling, and I would assume that she would not naturally be inclined to eat it otherwise, maybe the cannibalism is sometimes due to nutritional deficiencies. That has provided more insight to the question than I have ever had before, when it all seemed to be only speculation.
 

gentle giants

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I have only had my does eat kits that were born dead, or died right after birth. I had heard a long time ago, I don't remember where, that this was a way for the doe to keep her nest clean. For a wild rabbit, to let the dead kits stay in the nest could bring disease, and to put them outside the nest could attract predators to the nest. I just figured it was an instinct left over from their wild days.
 

chubbers422

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Dolores Lindvall wrote:
Rabbits can very well eat their kits. I don't breed any more, but I used to have a ton of rabbits. And this would happen every once in awhile. Then an old time breeder told me that if that happenedto put a little piece of raw bacon in with the doe,she would eat that andshe wouldn't eat her babies. It worked. I would imagine that hormonal changes affect everyone differently. I've worked with hogs, and have seen some sows and gilts eat their tiny babies, too. It usually happens right after giving birth, so that's why I think it's a hormonal thing.

Hmm... I've been told that a hog will eat it's young if it has a problem... true? lol. I'm with my horses, so... yeah.



Rachel & Chubbs :bunnydance:
 

Dolores Lindvall

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Yes, they will. Sometimes the piglets were not completely dead when I would get to work. Very, very rare ina 1000 sow unit would they attack, kill and eat the babies except during or shortly after the birthing process. In the hogs it was "blamed" on a fever the sow was running during and after the birthing process. I suppose there is that possibility with rabbits, too. I never had any does eat their kits who were already dead. But, I usually made an inspection of the nest boxes a couple of times a day and removed any dead ones.

The old time breeder who told me about the bacon said that he thought it was the salty taste combined with hormonal changes. I think that just about everyone who has ever bred rabbits has seen a case where the doe became to vigorous in cleaning a new born, and ended up eating it. It might happen once with a doe and never happen ever again. It might happen often with a particular doe. It may never happen. (The same applies to the hogs.)


 

Maureen Las

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Wow that bacon "thing " is really something I never heard of..sort of gross but if it works that what is important. I adopted a rabbit about 2 months ago that passed a piece of tapeworm the day after he was neutered. Believe me I was really grossed out . The vet treated him with Drontal (worming for kittens) and heisfine. I didn't know how a rabbit could get a tapeworm but maybe from contaminated feed or eating something outside............or maybe his mother ate bacon :elephant:
 

SAS

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As far as I know, tapeworms come from the pet swallowinga flea that has tapeworm larvae. People can only get them by ingestinginfected fleas as well.

The bacon might attract maggots though.

SAS :vomit:
 

bunnydude

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Hmmm... this is an interesting thread. I never knew that they would outright eat their kits. I have, however, heard that new mothers sometimes accidentally bite off ears or paws while grooming the kits.
 

Maureen Las

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I was fearful that I could have gotten a tapeworm from Rudy (the bunny) so I called the nurse clinician at a good hospital and said "you're not going to have heard this one before....."She did a computer search on the rabbit tapeworm, taenia pisiformis,and said that a human had never been documented to getting that particular tapeworm. I was relieved because I am down on the floor kissing his face, picking up poops off the rug etc.......however my dog ate Rudy's poops and the vet said that I should look for little whitish things (like rice ) in my dogs stool..so far I haven't seen any. If a dog chased down and ate a rabbit I think that is a sure way for the dog to get a tapeworm....next subject "eating Young" I don't think that it is really uncommon in animals. I know that hamsters are notorious fort his if there nest is bothered at all. Anyway if bacon is cured can tapeworm eggs survive the process? Somehow I don't really think that a rabbit is going to get a worm from a little bacon.
 

Maureen Las

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SAS I love the puking emoticon:vomit::vomit::vomit:We finally have an opportunity to use it.
 

alfie and angel

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bunnydude wrote:
Hmmm... this is an interesting thread. I never knew that they would outright eat their kits. I have, however, heard that new mothers sometimes accidentally bite off ears or paws while grooming the kits.

My first ever rabbit, bigwig, had no earsbecause his mum ate them- I remember crying at school because I brought him in to give a talk on rabbits and all the other kids laughed at him having no ears!

At the time I thought he was traumatized because of the no-ears jokes but looking back I suppose he was more traumatized about being taken to a school-ful of rowdy kids - poor bigwig

:foreheadsmack:
 

Maureen Las

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Alfie and angel...that story about your first rabbit is really sad, :(:(sad for him that he had no ears and sad for both of you because you were laughed at..it must be a bad memory from childhood.
 

huntress

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The bacon might attract maggots though.
You don't leave it in long enough to attract maggots. And you only use maybe a quarter to a half piece at a time. Take it out the next morning, if she didn't kindle you put in a fresh piece.
 

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