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European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 62, Issue 1, pp 143–145 | Cite as

Carcass consumption by domestic rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

  • Marcus ClaussEmail author
  • Andreas Lischke
  • Heike Botha
  • Jean-Michel Hatt
Short Communication

Abstract

Conventional concepts about trophic niches in mammals are often linked to adaptations of digestive physiology, and so carnivory by herbivorous animals is often considered a physiological impossibility. However, numerous reports on events of carnivory in herbivores without apparent harmful consequences exist. Here, we report the habitual daily consumption of animal prey (day-old chicks and rodents) by two rabbits kept in a mixed-species exhibit with raptors over a period of 9 months. While not requiring a change of the classification of rabbits as strict herbivores, anecdotes like this one suggest that some trophic niches might be better explained by other factors than digestive physiology, such as ecological opportunity, behavioural adaptations and biomechanical limits to ingestion.

Keywords

Herbivory Carnivory Placentophagy Cannibalism Scavenging Coprophagy 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcus Clauss
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andreas Lischke
    • 2
  • Heike Botha
    • 1
  • Jean-Michel Hatt
    • 1
  1. 1.Clinic for Zoo Animals, Exotic Pets and Wildlife, Vetsuisse FacultyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Bird of Prey Sanctuary Berg am Irchel, PanEcoFoundation for Sustainable Development and Intercultural ExchangeBerg am IrchelSwitzerland

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