# canabalistic rabbits?

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by deviator12000, Sep 18, 2004.

1. ### deviator12000Member

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As a child I raised many rabbits for the supper table. One thing I never understood was this: Sometimes when the doe would have a litter of babies, I'd come out to find some of them eaten. Could only guess years later that it was maybe from the mother needing iron? Anyway, those rabbits always made it to the table pretty quick.
Why would a doe eat her babies?

2. ### Pat LamarWell-Known MemberSupporter

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There are several reasons for this, and one must examine the cannibalized kits in order to accurately determine the cause. For example:

A difficult delivery can result in the doe attempting to "help" her babies to be born by trying to pull them out. Unfortunately, her teeth are too sharp for this task and resulting in kits born with missing ears, legs, and/or tail.

If the abdomen has been eaten, the cause is generally due to the doe getting "carried away" when cleaning the kit in that area. Remember... rabbits stress easily, and giving birth is a very stressful time for them. Not unusual for a doe to simply not "pay attention" at this time.

A lack of sufficient protein in the feed can likewise cause this. Pregnant and lactating does require 18% protein.

Last but not least.... if the doe feels "threatened" by predators, etc. (or her location may be too "open"), she may kill her litter purposely. Seems they would rather do that than to allow the litter to be killed by a potential predator. However, the most common symptom of this would be the doe urinating on her litter instead of cannibalizing.

Pat Lamar
President
Professional Rabbit Meat Association
http://www.prma.org/

3. ### nans31Well-Known Member

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Last but not least.... if the doe feels "threatened" by predators, etc. (or her location may be too "open"), she may kill her litter purposely. Seems they would rather do that than to allow the litter to be killed by a potential predator. However, the most common symptom of this would be the doe urinating on her litter instead of cannibalizing.

Hmmm, I notice that some of the does seem to have "yellowish" babies at times. Could this be because of her urinating on them? I have only had one case of cannabilizing, and the abdomen was eaten. There was alot of action going on around her that wasn't normal, so figured that was the reason.
On a seperate note, I notice that occasionally the babies will have a "fresh bath" appearance. The fur will be very wet, is the doe actually giving a bath?

4. ### Pat LamarWell-Known MemberSupporter

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If the babies appear "wet" and yellow, then, yes, the doe is urinating on them. However, if the skin color appears yellowish, but the kits are obviously dry, then, it sounds more like a case of jaundice.

And again... with the "fresh bath" appearance... if it isn't yellow and gross, then, the doe is obviously bathing them.... or you have a leak over the cage!

Pat Lamar
President
Professional Rabbit Meat Association
http://www.prma.org/

5. ### nans31Well-Known Member

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No leaks in the barn-- they must be getting baths. Occasionally (usually early in am) a whole litter will be obviously wet. Not dripping, but when I feel them they are damp. They look ruffled, like a wet cat who is starting to dry. It's interesting about the does urinating on them, something I didn't know!

6. ### Pat LamarWell-Known MemberSupporter

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>It's interesting about the does urinating on them, something I didn't know!<

Actually, it makes a lot of sense. You see, in the wild, when a doe feels her nest is threatened, she will pee on the kits in order to camoflage their scent. However, in the case of a caged rabbit whose location may seem threatening to her, she will continue to pee on them because she continues to feel threatened. This is what kills them.

Pat Lamar
President
Professional Rabbit Meat Association
http://www.prma.org/