Rabbit pet owners might have seen their rabbits consume their own offspring on separate occasions. This tragic occurrence may get you wondering: why do rabbits eat their babies?
For starters, female rabbits are much more likely to eat their babies than male ones. A mother rabbit may eat her offspring due to a protein deficiency, an overload of stress, or the fact that the litter is weak.
That said, one way to help prevent this event is to provide the mother rabbit with plenty of protein before birth.
Read on to learn more about why rabbits may eat their own babies.
It’s hard to imagine that such adorable creatures would engage in such behavior, but unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for female rabbits to eat their own babies.
This can happen as a result of several factors.
Here are some of them:
One reason why a mother rabbit may engage in cannibalism is the state of her environment.
Rabbits are sensitive animals that can be heavily affected by their surroundings. If those surroundings are chaotic and noisy, your rabbit may think there’s a predator lurking nearby.
So, in an attempt to protect herself, a female rabbit may eat her offspring to hide their scent, which may attract predators.
Additionally, rabbits aren’t as in tune with their maternal instincts as other mammals are. Shortly after giving birth, a mother rabbit can get scared and confused. This may lead her to eat her babies.
When a rabbit gives birth, there’s the instinctive aspect of having vessels that’ll propagate her genes to future generations at play.
Therefore, a rabbit will eat the babies from her litter that she senses are weak and are unlikely to survive. That way, she has more energy to care for the stronger babies.
It may seem cruel, but rabbits don’t give natural selection a chance to run its course.
After a rabbit gives birth to a large litter, she’s pretty drained and low on nutrients. This is to be expected since birth takes a toll on any female mammal.
If you don’t provide your rabbit with the nutrients she needs to recover, particularly protein, she may take matters into her own hands and consume her babies to compensate.
It’s completely understandable if what you’ve just read is alarming. However, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of your rabbit eating its babies.
Here are some of them:
One key thing to consider is the nutritional value you’re providing your rabbit with. This isn’t just important after it gives birth, it’s also essential in the few weeks leading up to your bunny’s due date.
Make sure to give your rabbit enough protein-rich food. This can come in the form of nutrient-rich hay, such as alfalfa.
When your rabbit is approaching its due date, you should move it to an area of the house that’s calm and quiet.
This is especially true if the room you usually keep your rabbit in is constantly full of noises, bright lights, and people moving around.
Doing so will significantly lower the possibility of your rabbit reaching an afterbirth, high-stress level that makes her eat her babies.
Closely supervising your rabbit and her newborn bunnies is another measure you can take to keep the young ones safe from being eaten by their mother.
Keeping an eye on your rabbit and her babies during the first few weeks after birth could be the difference between life and death for the young bunnies.
The likelihood of a male rabbit preying on its young is slim to none. However, male rabbits do eat their babies on some rare occasions.
Here are a couple of factors that could lead to this happening:
When a rabbit gives birth, it produces a huge litter. The average rabbit litter consists of five babies.
Therefore, the cage your rabbits are housed in can get crowded fast, particularly if the mother produces multiple litters in quick succession.
If the cage is already too small, this can make male rabbits claustrophobic. In turn, it may force them to eat their babies to free up some space to move around.
Another possible motive for male rabbits to consume their babies is the sudden dip in the attention they get from the female when she gives birth.
When the mother rabbit is preoccupied with caring for her young, the male rabbit can start seeing the babies as rivals and will eat them to eliminate the competition.
After reading about this unsavory behavior that’s sometimes exhibited by rabbits, you may be wondering why anyone would want such animals in their home.
The answer is that rabbits can actually be great pets. They’re bursting with energy and personality and can be highly affectionate to their owners, especially if you’ve had them since they were young.
Here are some questions that come to mind when talking about rabbit care and costs.
If you’re a first-time pet owner, you may not be up to the task of caring for a canine or feline companion yet. In this case, a rabbit is probably a better option. This isn’t to say that caring for a rabbit is obstacle-free. These animals still require considerable maintenance and attention.
If you provide your rabbit with the environment and nutrition it needs to be healthy and happy, you’ll have a cute little ball of fur that adds positivity to your life.
However, here are some reasons why this task may not be as easy as you think:
Unlike other small mammals commonly kept as pets, rabbits aren’t ones for being cooped up in a cage all day. These animals are highly active, so you’ll need to take them outside for walks often.
If this isn’t possible, then they should at least be let out of their cage to run free around the house for a few hours each day.
No matter how well-trained your rabbit is, it still has an instinctive drive to explore and sink its teeth into anything it comes across.
This is why it’s important to keep a close eye on your rabbit when you let it out of its cage.
Getting a chew toy for your bunny to wear out its ever-growing teeth is another way to help protect your belongings.
Rabbits are highly social creatures and that’s an additional thing to consider.
Rabbits aren’t used to spending extended periods in solitude. Therefore, it’s always advised to get pet rabbits in pairs. That way, they can keep each other company.
If this isn’t possible, then you’ll have to provide the companionship your rabbit needs yourself.
If you’re not ready for the financial burden that comes with owning a cat or a dog, then rabbits might just be the pet for you.
That being said, rabbits are still relatively costly to care for when compared to other pets of similar sizes, such as guinea pigs.
If you add up the monthly cost of hay, litter box material, toys, and food, you’re likely to spend an average of $85 per month on a pet rabbit.
You’ll also need to buy a cage for your rabbit. The typical rabbit cage is 8 square feet and should include a sizable play area.
Have you ever wondered: why do rabbits eat their babies?
The answer is that it can happen due to numerous factors. They include the mother rabbit not getting enough protein, as well as her being stressed out and confused after birth.
As for male rabbits, they’re much less likely to eat their young than females are. When it does happen though, it’s usually due to the cage being too small. Another possible reason is them seeing the babies as competition due to reduced attention from the female.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.