Archivos de medicina veterinaria
versión impresa ISSN 0301-732X
GONZALEZ-REDONDO, P y ZAMORA-LOZANO, M. Neonatal cannibalism in cage-bred wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Arch. med. vet. [online]. 2008, vol.40, n.3, pp. 281-286. ISSN 0301-732X. doi: 10.4067/S0301-732X2008000300009.
The aim of this study was to analyse the occurrence of neonatal cannibalism by individually outdoors cage-bred wild rabbit does (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Ninety eight parturitions that were gathered from 19 female cage-born wild rabbits during five consecutive years were monitored for cannibalism incidence. This alteration in maternal behaviour, which was exclusively limited to the peripartum period, had a high incidence (13.3% of parturitions) and was significantly associated with inadequate maternal behaviour such as not using straw or hair in nestbuilding or giving birth outside the nest box. In 84.6% of the parturitions with occurrence of cannibalism the does did not introduce hair into the nest boxes, and in 92.3% of the parturitions with cannibalised kits the does did not introduce straw into the nest boxes. Cannibalism was also associated with a large proportion of rabbits that gave birth outside the nest boxes (53.8%). It is discussed that cannibalism practiced by wild rabbit does in captivity is a manifestation of the failure of maternal behaviour, a consequence of the stress they experience in captivity.
Palabras clave : cannibalism; maternal behaviour; Oryctolagus cuniculus; wild rabbit.