Do rabbits eat their babies?

Do Rabbits Eat Their Babies?

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Even though rabbits are herbivores, this does not stop them from eating their babies in some instances. It sounds pretty horrific, but there are reasons behind why they do this which we will explore below.

We will also talk about how to prevent your rabbits from eating their babies, which is very important knowledge to have especially if you have domesticated rabbits and are wanting to give the baby rabbits a chance to grow and thrive.

Why Do Rabbits Eat Their Babies?

Rabbits can sometimes eat their babies, a behavior known as infanticide. It can be distressing to witness, but understanding the reasons can help rabbit owners better care for their pets and prevent such occurrences.

The following are some of the reasons why rabbits may consume their young.

Do rabbits eat their babies?
There are several reasons why rabbis eat their babies: stress, illness, diet and more

Weak Litter

Rabbits are firm believers in the notion of survival of the fittest. If rabbits discover that their litter is weak and lacking in nourishment and strength, they will most likely murder and devour the young themselves.

This is the most common case in which rabbits will prey on some kits while sparing others. They most likely ate the weaker kits while leaving the stronger ones alone.

Rabbits developed in this manner to be able to spend all of their attention on healthy kits, who may live long enough to carry her gene to a new generation of offspring.

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Stress and Confusion

Humans are not the only creature that experiences stress and anxiety. Rabbits are no exception. If her surroundings are loud and confused, they may believe she is being pursued by a predator.

As a result of their dread and worry, they consume their offspring to ensure that the predator does not pick up a smell.

Also, if the rabbit is new to motherhood, she may be overwhelmed by the birth of a child. In fact, she may feel terrified and perplexed by the newborns.

So, unlike other animals, whose mother instincts kick in rapidly, it may take a rabbit some time to reconnect with reality.

Allow your nervous rabbit to relax by offering a dark, safe area for it to hide. Reduce noise levels and keep any potential predators away from rabbits, especially family dogs, children, and cats.

Avoid transferring your rabbit and wait until it has accustomed to care for the kits before introducing new humans or animals to it.

Insufficient Diet

Rabbits have a fast metabolism and must consume a lot of food to survive. This implies that if there isn’t enough food available, they may resort to devouring their offspring to survive.

Feed your rabbit alfalfa hay before giving birth to help avoid her from eating her own kits. Alfalfa is packed in nutrients and sugar, which can help your rabbit have a healthy birth and produce a lot of milk.

This allows for adequate growth and development because it delivers vital nutrients that would otherwise be lost when breast milk is insufficient.

Rabbits should always have access to fresh grass hay and clean water. Female rabbits require alfalfa to meet their extra demands during pregnancy and lactation. Rabbits must eat all day.

They should also have access to a mineral bar in case they require additional nutrition.

They Are Sick

If the rabbits are unwell or infected, they may consume their offspring. This is frequently because they lack the energy to care for their baby and must concentrate on getting healthier.

If you suspect your rabbit is ill, you must take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Allow your rabbit to become pregnant if she is sick or malnourished. If your rabbit is sickly, seperate her from male rabbits. Make sure she has enough nourishment and that external stresses are minimized.

Consult your veterinarian so that you can treat her before she becomes pregnant.

If your already pregnant doe becomes unwell, cooperate with a vet to give her the greatest chance of recovering before giving birth.

Territorial Motives

Many animals have territorial tendencies and feel scared when another organism approaches them. While in certain cases, maternal instincts triumph and the mother feels comfortable sharing the hutch with her young.

How to Prevent a Rabbit From Eating Their Babies?

How to Prevent a Rabbit From Eating Their Rabbits

Even though a mother rabbit can eat her babies, there are ways that you can prevent it. 

Make the Mother Feel Safe

Many rabbits, even tamed ones, devour their young since it is their natural nature. Because the answer to that tendency is to consume their young, you should address the underlying issue first.

If this is your rabbit’s major problem, do all you can to help her feel safe enough to retain the pups.

This involves making a little hiding space for mama and the kits in your rabbit cage that is dark and away from high-traffic areas.

Separate the Mother From the Babies

If you’ve already done everything you can to help her feel more safe and she still tries to eat her newborn litter, it might be advisable to keep them apart, at least until the baby rabbits are a few weeks old.

First, make a comfy nest box for the babies, ideally with hay and paper shavings.

After that, place the nest box in a cage with a closeable door. This is done to prevent the mother from accessing them. You should still allow her to nurse the kittens at least once or twice a day, under strict supervision, of course.

Why do rabbits eat their babies?
Temporarily separating the mother from her babies is one solution. Make sure the babies get fed! Pictured above is a Zika Rabbit doe.

Distract the Mother

Mother rabbits are known to get quite agitated immediately after giving birth. Their senses are constantly heightened, and the immense duty of motherhood rests on their shoulders.

If you’re having trouble with this, try distracting her with other foods or toys. This accomplishes two goals: first, it entertains her, which lessens her tension, and second, it diverts her focus away from her infants.

You may also wish to adjust her diet, since some breeders claim that providing additional calcium to pregnant or recently-birthed rabbit moms dramatically reduces anxiety.

Do Male Rabbits Eat Babies?

It is quite rare for male rabbits to eat baby rabbits, but they can still be violent towards them at times. This is mainly because the presence of the young makes the male rabbit feel threatened.

If you have a male and female rabbit living together, it is critical to keep a watch on them after the female gives birth. If you notice the male rabbit acting violently toward the offspring, it is preferable to separate them.

What Should I do if my Pet Rabbit Ate her Babies?

Discovering that a pet rabbit has eaten her babies can be an extremely distressing and traumatic experience. Here is a step-by-step guideline on what you should do in this situation:

  1. Stay Calm: It’s important to remain calm, even though it might be very distressing. Your rabbit is not “evil” or “bad”; this behavior, although horrifying to us, can occur in the animal kingdom for various reasons.
  2. Remove the Deceased Kits: Gently remove any deceased kits from the nest to prevent infection or illness. Use gloves to avoid the transfer of human scent.
  3. Check the Health of the Surviving Kits: Carefully check if there are any surviving kits and assess their condition. If they are uninjured, place them back in the nest so the mother can continue to care for them.
  4. Provide a Secure Environment: Ensure that the doe (mother rabbit) has a quiet, secure, and undisturbed environment to prevent further stress which might trigger more such incidents. It’s best to limit your interaction with the doe and the kits during this time to reduce stress levels.
  5. Consult a Veterinarian or Experienced Breeder: If possible, consult with a veterinarian or an experienced breeder to discuss the incident and seek advice on how to proceed. They might provide insights into potential causes and preventative measures for the future.
  6. Observe the Doe’s Behavior: Monitor the doe closely over the next few days to ensure that she is nurturing the remaining kits and not showing signs of illness or distress. If she continues to neglect or harm the kits, you might need to consider hand-rearing the survivors, which should only be undertaken with expert advice.
  7. Evaluate Future Breeding Plans: If the doe has engaged in infanticide, seriously reconsider any plans for future breeding. It might be an indication that she is not suitable for breeding, or changes need to be made to her environment or health care.
  8. Seek Support: Dealing with such a traumatic incident can be very distressing. Don’t hesitate to seek support from communities or groups who have experienced similar situations. Sharing your experience and learning from others can sometimes be a source of comfort and learning.
  9. Document the Incident: Document the incident, including any potential triggers or signs of stress in the doe. This information might be useful for a veterinarian or expert consultant and for avoiding such incidents in the future.
  10. Reflect and Learn: Once the immediate crisis is handled, take time to reflect and learn from the incident. Consider researching and learning more about rabbit breeding and care to prevent such incidents in the future.

Remember, while this is a traumatic event, it is sometimes a part of breeding rabbits and it doesn’t make you or your pet rabbit bad or at fault. It’s a learning curve, and with time and experience, you can become more adept at breeding and caring for rabbits.


Because rabbits are not carnivorous, they will rarely consume their young on purpose, thinking they are food. It is most likely to occur in young rabbits after they have given birth to their first litter.

The rabbit is terrified and perplexed by the encounter, so she does what comes instinctively to her.

Other reasons include that the baby is not strong, and the mother is following the survival of the fittest theory, or they are lacking something in their diet such as protein. 

If your rabbit is wanting to eat their babies, you can alter her diet, make her feel safe and secure, distract her, or even separate her from them for a bit until they are needing to be fed with close supervision.

Video: Why do Rabbits Eat Their Babies?

In the video below from Dukes Farm, Director Denis Duke explain about rabbit infanticide and what can be done to prevent it.

Preventing Rabbits from eating their babies video.


What should I feed my rabbit?

A balanced rabbit diet consists of hay (a constant supply), a small amount of fresh vegetables, and limited quantities of rabbit pellets. Fresh water should always be available.

How can I tell if my rabbit is healthy?

A healthy rabbit will have bright eyes, a clean nose, a sleek coat, and will be active and alert. Regular vet check-ups are essential to monitor your rabbit’s health.

Do rabbits get along with other pets?

Introducing rabbits to other pets should be done with caution. While some rabbits get along with peaceful, well-behaved pets, others might be at risk of injury or stress. Always supervise interactions between your rabbit and other pets.

Why might a rabbit eat its young?

There are several reasons a rabbit might eat its young, including high-stress levels, disturbances in their environment, perceived threats, or if the kits are born unhealthy or deceased.

How can I prevent my rabbit from eating its babies?

To minimize the risk, provide a quiet, secure, and undisturbed environment for the doe and her kits. Limit handling of the babies, especially in the first few days after birth.

Is infanticide common in rabbits?

While not extremely common, infanticide can occur, particularly in stressed, inexperienced, or unhealthy does. It is a concerning but natural behavior driven by various environmental or physiological factors.

Can this behavior be an indication of underlying health issues in the mother?

In some cases, yes. A doe that repeatedly engages in infanticide might be experiencing health issues or severe stress. It’s advised to consult with a veterinarian to evaluate the doe’s health and well-being.

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