Will a mother rabbit kill her babies if you touch them? There are many different reasons why rabbits would consume their young.
For example, if the kits are ill, the mother is under a lot of stress, there is not enough milk, the kits are already dead, the placenta is mistaken for the kits, or the rabbit is too young to be a mother.
Since rabbits are herbivores, they would never voluntarily consume meat without a good reason to do so. The rabbit is being instructed by nature to live and propagate at whatever cost, even if this involves devouring her young in order to do so, which is what is now occurring.
Read on to find out the specifics of the reason why rabbits would consume her young after I’ve already provided you with a summary of the article’s main points.
The kits are in poor health.
When a mother rabbit notices that any of her young are sickly or otherwise unable to care for themselves, her natural reaction is to consume those young.
The reason behind this is because infants that are unwell or weaker are considered liabilities. It has the potential to bring down her other healthy kits by depriving them of their mother’s resources, which are scarce (i.e. milk).
This is particularly true for wild rabbits, since they have access to a far smaller variety of nutrient-dense foods than domestic rabbits do. Nevertheless, the pet rabbit retains the same instincts regardless of its environment.
When a mother rabbit feels endangered by potential predators in her environment, she may begin eating her young in an effort to divert attention away from her nest.
The same thing takes place with domesticated rabbits when they are anxious or when they are not content with the environment in which they are currently living.
Before you breed your rabbits, you need make sure that they are content in their current environment. Keep an eye out for symptoms of stress such as irritability, anxiousness, over- or under-grooming, lack of appetite, and lethargic behavior in your pet.
If you see any of these signs, you should seek the counsel of a qualified veterinarian as soon as possible. It’s possible that your rabbit is suffering from problems that you are unable to perceive.
Rookie bunnies frequently make poor parents because of their lack of experience. Because of this, it is not recommended that you breed your rabbits until they are at least six months old.
Due to the fact that young rabbits have not yet achieved sexual maturity, it is common for them to lack the instinct of a mother when they are bred before they reach that age.
However, if it’s their first trip around the block, even mature bunnies don’t always make the best parents.
Last but not least, if your rabbit consumes her young after giving birth for the second time, you should cease breeding her and get her neutered.
A shortage of nourishment is another factor that might contribute to a mother rabbit murdering her young. If a rabbit is deficient in certain nutrients, it will not be able to produce the necessary quantity of milk to ensure the survival of its young.
As a consequence of this, her kits would become a burden. Without food, rabbits are likely to perish, which, in turn, draws the attention of potential enemies owing to the odor they give off.
The rabbits do all of this out of pure instinct. They are herbivores and would not voluntarily consume any kind of meat. This is just nature’s way of attempting to save her life and carry on the family lineage for as long as possible.
As I’ve discussed before, deceased kits tend to attract predators owing to the odor that they give off. Because of this, the rabbit will often resort to just consuming them.
Rabbits are careful cleaners and prefer to keep their burrow/home clean and sterilized, which is another reason why they could eat a dead infant. Rabbits want to keep their burrow/home clean and disinfected. Not to mention the fact that corpses are magnets for infections that are fatal.
After giving birth, the placenta would be consumed by the mother rabbit. This would guarantee that no rotting meat was left in the nest, which may attract predators not only owing to the stench but also because to the infections and illnesses that it could spread.
There have been instances in which rabbits have mistaken the placenta for the young and eaten it as a result.
Because of their innate will to endure and perpetuate their species at whatever cost, rabbits will consume their offspring for a number of different reasons.
One of these circumstances is when the kits are already ill and in poor condition. She cannot afford to take care of sick or otherwise compromised bunnies since, in the wild, rabbits produce only a little amount of milk owing to the scarcity of food sources.
If the mother let the sickly kittens survive, it’s probable that they’d bring the rest of the healthy kids down with them.
It’s possible that a stressed-out rabbit is the one responsible for her eating her young. In the wild, if a mother rabbit is under a lot of pressure, she may consume her young so as not to attract the attention of potential enemies.
When a rabbit that is less than six months old becomes pregnant, there is another another scenario in which the mother will consume her offspring.
It is preferable to wait until your rabbit has reached sexual maturity before breeding them since first-time moms do not yet have the appropriate instincts to care for their young.
There is also the possibility that the mother rabbit may mistake the placenta for her young and consume it instead.
And last but not least, if the kittens have already passed away, the rabbit will just consume them. This is done to maintain the area clean and to prevent dangerous illnesses and animals from making their way to the borrow.
How to Prevent a Mother Rabbit from Consuming Her Young
There have been documented cases of rabbits eating their own offspring. Your pet is more prone to behave in this manner if it is experiencing a high level of anxiety, if it is not getting enough protein in its diet, or if it has grown too possessive.
In the days leading up to the delivery of her young, provide your rabbit with a diet consisting mostly of alfalfa hay. This will prevent her from eating her young out of hunger, which would otherwise drive her to do so.
After giving birth, she will most likely consume the placenta, but she may unintentionally consume a baby instead. If there are any early warning indications, the kits should be removed.
Rabbits, in contrast to hares, do not consume any kind of meat. They are not carnivorous creatures, hence it is quite unlikely that they would voluntarily consume their own offspring. Rabbits who are still young and have just had their first litter are the ones most prone to suffer from this condition. The incident has left the rabbit afraid and bewildered, so she can only respond in the way that is most natural to her.
There are a few reasons why a rabbit may consume her young, including the following:
In the vast majority of cases, a mother rabbit will not deliberately choose to consume her offspring. She will have a better knowledge of her position and the expectations placed on her after she has given birth to many litters of puppies or kittens.
Young rabbits absolutely need their mothers in order to have any chance of surviving on their own. The mother rabbit is required to care for her offspring for around eight weeks after they are born.
They will have gained a greater sense of autonomy at this stage. The baby bunnies will have graduated to eating solid food, be able to move about on their own will, and will no longer need milk.
Your rabbit will no longer have any urge to consume her young once the passage of twenty-four hours has transpired. The young should not be in danger in the nest, and they will mature swiftly.
If this occurs more than once, you need to get your rabbit spayed and refrain from breeding her in the future. Evidently, your bunny does not believe in motherhood. The more you coerce her towards giving birth, the more stressed out she will get by the experience.
It’s possible that a mother rabbit will eat some of her young but not others, depending on the litter. This may be the result of an intentional act or one of inaction. It’s possible that she’ll split her young into two groups, but she’ll only feed one of them.
This is due to the fact that one group has been seen to be excessively susceptible and weak. The urge to live plays a significant role in rabbit behavior.
A significant portion of this entails creating healthy offspring that will carry on the process of increasing the species’ population. She has made the decision to direct her attention on the young that have the best chance of surviving.
In the event that this is the case, you have the option of attempting to raise the infants on your own. You are able to manufacture your own rabbit food to give to them. If assistance and guidance is necessary, contact the wildlife center that is located closest to you.
Take the following preventative measures to lower the possibility of your rabbit killing and eating her young:
Although father rabbits seldom consume their young, it is still best for young bunnies not to live with their dads. The fatherly impulses of male rabbits are absent.
In addition to this, there are various ways that young bunnies might get injuries.
It is physically impossible for a male rabbit to nurse his young. Because of this, the young bunnies won’t have enough food to eat, and none of their other requirements will be addressed either.
It’s possible that the male rabbit may see these baby rabbits as competitors for his territory. It’s more probable than not that he’ll play a subservient character.
If given the opportunity, he would almost likely seize the occasion to demonstrate his power over the situation.
When a female rabbit has become pregnant, it is best to keep her away from the male rabbit as quickly as possible. The man will continue to be sexually aroused, while the female will have absolutely no interest in mating.
Rabbits who are pregnant are prone to aggression and are far more likely to attack a potential mate if they are approached.
While a female is carrying a child, the best time to have a male altered is when the female is pregnant. Do not immediately put him back in the hutch after the birth since male rabbits remain fertile for up to six weeks after they have been neutered.
In contrast, females are able to get pregnant again twenty-four hours after giving birth.
There is a widespread misconception that you should never put your hands on young bunnies. According to urban legend, a mother would devour her young since they are said to be “tainted” with human odour.
This could not be farther from the truth. Your rabbit won’t care if she gets your fragrance on her young since she will ignore it. If the two of you have a strong connection, she may even find the scent reassuring.
If your rabbit intends to consume her young, she will do it relatively shortly after giving birth to them. If she is now nursing and providing food for her children, she is not likely to alter her mind and consume them at a later time.
If you go back to your rabbit’s hutch and discover that some of the young have been taken, one of two things has occurred:
The newborn rabbit has either wandered off or fell out of the nesting box it was in. Conduct a search of the hutch, being sure to look beneath the hay stacks. Investigate the rabbit hutch for any cracks or openings that would have allowed it to escape.
The baby animals are being devoured by a dangerous animal that has broken into the hutch. It’s possible that this is a rodent of some kind, perhaps a rat.
Since your rabbit would not sleep with her young, it is possible that she is unaware.
If you come upon the young rabbit, do not hesitate to put her back in the nesting box.
Without their mother’s body heat and milk, young bunnies will not be able to survive for very long. There are several scenarios in which it may not be possible to change the outcome.
If the young are being devoured, you will need to strengthen the security of the hutch. Examine the wire door for any telltale evidence of holes being chewed through. There is a possibility that a huge rodent gnawed its way in and devoured a young rabbit.
Under these conditions, it is recommended that the hutch be outfitted with a perspex cover. Your rabbits will be safe in this, and they will still be able to watch what’s going on outside.
Just make sure there is sufficient room for the flow of new air.
There are some rabbits that will consume their young, but the majority of the time they will only do it once.