Rabbit Starvation, Or “Protein Poisoning,” is a rare form of acute malnutrition thought to be caused by a near complete absence of fat in the diet.
I have heard some funny claims concerning rabbit meat over the years since starting my bunny business. Some of them seem near mythical! On several occasions, I’ve heard, “rabbit meat has negative calories, it takes more energy to eat it than what is replenished by it.” I laughed. Next, “you can only eat rabbit like half the year right? Only months with the letter ‘R’ in them?” And finally, “you’ll die if you eat nothing but rabbit!”
Claim #1 Negative Calorie Meat.
“Rabbit meat has negative calories, it takes more energy to eat it than what is replenished by it.” -random man at Survival expo. Well Mr Random, no, that is incorrect. Rabbit meat does have a low calorie count, but it is not less than the needed energy to chew and digest the meat. Rabbit meat has about 447 calories per half pound. In comparison to beef, 568 calories per half pound, we see that there is only a small difference.
Claim #2 Can’t Eat Rabbit Year-Round
“You can only eat rabbit like half the year, Only months with the letter ‘R’ in them.” -most folks that have hunted rabbit, or knows about hunting rabbits. Ok, this IS a good rule-of-thumb for Hunted Rabbit. This rule does not, however, apply to domesticated rabbits that are kept in breeding conditions year round, and are NOT in colony style rabbitries. The claim stems from the knowledge that wild rabbits have a harder time fighting desease during the warmer months of the year. Their little immune systems breakdown above 85º and they’re known to get parasites. Domesticate, climate controlled environment provided rabbits don’t experience the higher heat, their not exposed to parasite eggs, and are treated for any sicknesses seen by their caretaker. So, domesticated rabbit meat is fine to eat year-round.
Claim #3 Eating Rabbit Meat Exclusively
“You’ll die if you eat nothing but rabbit!” – at least one in five people I talk to about rabbits. Some artic travellers got the bright idea they would lead an expedition into the fridgid cold and GROW their food there. Great attempt, I applaud their idea, just not their execution… they brought the means to grow food for the rabbits, and ate the rabbits… And just the rabbits for weeks on end. After the second week they started getting diarrhea, headaches and would crave more and more fatty meats. A few actually died During the Greely Arctic Expedition 1881–1884.
The Greely problem comes from the low fat content of rabbit meat which is about 8.3%. Beef, by comparison is upward of 28% -32%. Rabbits don’t marble their fat into the muscle or even around the muscles like cattle and pigs do. Rabbits store their fat around their abdominal organs. In a healthy rabbit, there is a thin layer of fat that cushions the kidneys and reproductive organs. Side note, if a rabbit is obese they will have a hard time reproducing, females drop fewer eggs, males ejaculate less sperm (bet you’re glad for that happy thought).
Surviving On Rabbits
The vast majority of us cuniculturists (Rabbit Farmers), have other livestock and fat sources. However, if you find yourself in the wild, trudging through snow on a ninetinth century style artic expedition, know that you must eat ALL the edible parts of the rabbit to survive. The brain, stomach and intestines can be cleaned, boiled into a broth that has all the fats you need. We forget that the brain is a mass of fat, true it’s not appetizing, but in a pinch, it’ll due.
Backyard Meat Rabbits
As I look at my massive list of rabbit recipes, I am grateful for my abundant resources of spices, vegetables, and other ingredients I can mix in with my fresh, homegrown rabbit meat. I’m not trying to survive, I’m living the dream! I’ve got tasty food just feet away out my back door. In my current situation, if I need to add fat to my diet, I wrap a rabbit in BACON, cook it in rendered lard, or copious amounts butter… Rabbit IS a healthy meat choice and SHOULD be added to your homestead/ urban farm! Let me know if you need some Cages