Rabbits are an amazing prey animal when trying to live in the wilderness. They breed extremely quickly, fall prey to traps easily, and make a pretty great meal once caught. Catching them with snares and traps is generally pretty simple if you know where the rabbits are in the area, and you can harvest them aggressively throughout the year. Their abundance, however, does not make them the perfect survival meal!
Survivalists are keen to note that protein is of utmost importance, and that having an occasional source of protein in your diet prevents significant malnutrition and loss of strength. Of all the macronutrients, protein is the one that your body will use for energy and to rebuild itself physically, making it required nutrition.
Rabbit meat is nearly pure protein, making it seem ideal. What is unrecognized though is that the meat has almost no fat content. The lack of fat content means that people who attempt to subsist on rabbits will often find themselves in a situation of rabbit starvation.
Rabbit starvation is code for acute protein poisoning. Your body, in absence of vitamins, minerals, and other energy sources, will begin to have trouble running on pure protein. Without fat to help absorb minerals and without carbohydrates for energy, the rabbit will provide too little nutrition to your body and you will begin to need other food sources.
Rabbit Starvation Symptoms
Rabbit starvation symptoms set in when under significant stress from survival already, and can be deadly if you can’t adjust or be rescued in time. First, a feeling of insatiable hunger sets in. This is your body craving non-protein and attempting to tell you as much. Diarrhea, fatigue, and headache are also common problems. Eventually, it could kill you.
Avoiding Rabbit Starvation
Fortunately, rabbit starvation is an extreme problem brought on by extreme conditions. All it takes to avoid it is a diverse diet. In warmer months, diversity of diet is quite easy, and this is almost unheard of. In winter, or in extreme climates, survival on rabbits can be a serious problem though.
Some experts recommend that if you are given no other option, broaden your definition of food. Eat everything on the rabbit (except for the fur). Brains, eyes, liver, and yes, the intestines, are all sources of important nutrition that you may miss out on if you don’t eat them. For instance, brains and bone marrow contain significant amounts of fat.
As always, incorporating amounts of vegetables is incredibly important as well. Getting vitamins from animal organs is sub-optimal in many cases, and relying upon it is a shaky way to survive. knowing local edible plants will go a long way in helping you fight off malnutrition as well.
Don’t turn your nose up at food where you can get it. Animals, rabbits included, are still extremely important when trying to survive. The main lesson is to never rely solely upon a single food source. Rabbits highlight the problems with reliance upon single sources of food in a dramatic fashion. Also, remember that you still need protein, fat, and carbohydrates to survive in the long run. Some may be more easily available on a seasonal basis, but you must do what you have to in order to obtain all three.
My father tells a story about hunting caribou with Inuit peoples in Canada. When they felled a caribou, they promptly cut the fat from its back, treating it as a valuable commodity. They then sliced the liver (still raw) and used it to shovel the insides of the last stomach pouches into their mouths. They explained that vegetation was rare in the area, and that the lichens the deer ate would be digested far enough for humans to eat in the last stomach compartments. Thus, this meal of fat, liver, and pre-digested lichen was a powerful survival meal for them. It is that kind of thinking that allows them to survive in the wilderness, and that is what you must emulate to survive as well.
Raising-Rabbits.com: Rabbit Starvation
Hikingtripreports.com: Rabbit Starvation