• jcoffland 5 months ago

    I had a traumatic experience as a child. My family went to visit some friends. They thought my brother and I would like to see their new baby rabbits. We were sent out to the backyard on our own. When we got to the cage all the babies were dead. The adult rabbits had chewed off their heads. I'm now 42 and I can still see the bloody baby rabbit carcasses.

  • PhasmaFelis 5 months ago

    My understanding is that damn near anything (at least among mammals) will eat meat if they can get it in bite-sized bits. Ruminants may not have the teeth to tear chunks off a carcass, but they'll crunch up baby birds given the opportunity.

    Someone else has already done all the hard work of converting plant matter into the stuff that meat is made of, so it's high-density protein with very little metabolic cost. Even an herbivore would be foolish to pass that up.

  • burfog 5 months ago

    I find it astonishing that the disease risk doesn't lead to a strong aversion to having contact with other animals for any purpose other than reproduction. This is especially true for cannibalism.

    In the wild, antibiotics are not provided. Worms can get in the heart, lungs, and brain. Even external parasites are risky. Disease means death.

    The situation is slightly more understandable with some of the dedicated meat eaters. Vultures for example, have unusually strong stomach acid to deal with the infectious agents. Snowshoe hares and ruminants don't have that.

  • dtech 5 months ago

    Clearly the evolutionary (survival and procreation) benefit of getting the easy protein is greater than the risk of acquiring a disease.

    Your point is probably valid for cannibalism, which is why it's rare, and even rarer outside of young. The latter not yet having had an opportunity to acquire disease.

  • CamperBob2 5 months ago

    Rabbits in the wild don't generally live long enough to die of parasite infections.

  • make3 5 months ago

    starvation is likely a more imminent threat for wild animals than for humans, making this a better trade-off (raw meat) for them

  • porpoisely 5 months ago

    To add to your point, herbivores eat meat all the time. It's called insects. They'll even eat small rodents, birds, etc when given the opportunity.

    Sure, the prominent diet of herbivores are vegetation, but the idea that they only eat vegetation is simply not true.

    And every vegetarian on earth eats animals too. It's called insect parts. It's almost impossible for a salad or any vegetarian meal to be completed devoid of insect or rodent parts ( however minuscule ).

  • oedenfield 5 months ago

    And mother rabbits will eat any babies of theirs that die during birth. Is this news?

  • ironic_ali 5 months ago

    It is to me.

  • 5 months ago
  • Farradfahren 5 months ago

    To a lot of people antromorphizing their pets and educated by disney - it obviously is. Also this phenomena usually goes along with a disability to empathize with ones fellow men. So sharing some information on nature, as in the real nature, can be helpfull to shake some people who waste their emotional lives on animals out of this stance.

  • salimmadjd 5 months ago

    OT - two weeks ago I was snowshoeing in the Assiniboine park (border of Alberta and BC) for photography and saw their fresh tracks. At first I thought it might be a wolf. Their front paws were as big a my hand - Photo:


  • nickpsecurity 5 months ago

    Down here (more toward Texas), we have "jack rabbits" that are the size of some kids if you hold them across your chest. Huge. Look them up in DuckDuckGo images.

  • eecc 5 months ago

    It’s just protein, if the alternative is to die there’s no question

  • freeflight 5 months ago

    The article mentions a study from Switzerland [0] where the domestic rabbits would prefer eating the meat, which suggests they had access to herbivore feed alternatives.

    Seems there's a bit more to it than just "Rabbit will eat meat before they starve".

    [0] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10344-015-0980-y

  • felipemnoa 5 months ago

    It'd be very easy to test your assertion that the rabbits only eat meat because they are starving. Offer ten well fed rabbits meat, if they eat it then your assertion is false. Better yet, offer them the meat and their regular vegetarian food at the same time and see which one they prefer. My gut feeling is that more often then not they would try the meat.

  • ohiovr 5 months ago

    Mad rabbit disease!

  • Gibbon1 5 months ago


  • aquarin 5 months ago

    Reminds me of Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog.

  • heyjudy 5 months ago
  • mcv 5 months ago

    By pure coincidence I had a similar discussion with my friends yesterday. One claimed that even the most carnivorous animals (sharks, he claimed) eat some vegetables (up to 20%, though that sounds like a lot to me). Wolves apparently like to eat the stomach of their prey first, which in the case of usually herbivorous prey, is likely to contain a herbivorous diet. I read before that deer like to eat the occasional bird.

    If true, it seems like there are no true carnivores and herbivores: everybody is omnivorous to some extent. It's just what you get the majority of your diet from.

  • shasheene 5 months ago

    The broader point is that animals thought to be purely herbivores are in actual fact 'opportunistic omnivores': they'll supplement their diets with animal biomass (including bones) if given an opportunity. This is especially common animals that are unable to get complete nutrition or caloric intake from their existing diet.

    Another interesting concept is 'placentophagy' (mammals being observed eating their own placentas post pregnancy).

  • joe_the_user 5 months ago

    On the one hand, this doesn't mean that it would be beneficial for a herbivore to eat meat all the time - clearly, they evolved a mostly herbivorous diet that meat provides a protean supplement to.

    On the other hand, it does show that a voluntarily purely vegetarian diet is an artificial human creation. Yet, humans impose all sorts of artificial strictures on themselves and live to tell the tale.

  • hn_throwaway_99 5 months ago

    > On the other hand, it does show that a voluntarily purely vegetarian diet is an artificial human creation.

    That's an odd comparison. For the hare, if the choice is "starve in the middle of winter" or "eat meat", it's not surprising they eat meat. I think to say that a "voluntarily purely vegetarian diet is a purely human creation" is true not because of the vegetarian part, but because of the "voluntary" part. Most humans have the luxury of being able to choose a large part of their diets, while many wild animals are usually in a constant state of semi-starvation.

  • skookumchuck 5 months ago

    Food security for humans was first achieved by the US around 1800.

  • adventured 5 months ago

    It's unfortunate you're being downvoted, because you are broadly correct. The US was the first country to achieve a sustained, structural food surplus nationally. By 1920 it was saving millions of Russians from starvation via its immense food surplus. Millions of Europeans fled their homes over decades to come to the US because of food scarcity and starvation back home. During most of the 19th century starvation was still a common problem across nearly all of continental Europe. All the way back to the late 18th century, the British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries that were raping and pillaging their way across the colonies couldn't believe the general prosperity that New Englanders were enjoying (such that they had any cause to be rebelling; see the book 1776 by McCullough). Until the last 40 years, the US had typically been far wealthier and with a far greater national food surplus than most of Europe. Even now, the US GDP per capita is typically 50-60% higher than the EU GDP per capita. The Irish, Germans and Italians that fled Europe to the US did so because of extraordinary poverty and famine. The standard of poor in the US today is greater than 10x higher than the floor on poverty in Europe, which you see in countries like Moldova, Ukraine, Bulgaria, etc.

    "Irish, German, and Scandinavian immigrants arriving during the 1840s and 1850s made up the second wave of European immigration, fleeing famine, religious persecution, and political conflicts."


  • skookumchuck 5 months ago

    You can also see this in height statistics - US heights increased steadily from 1800-1900.

  • tyre 5 months ago

    Food security is still not a reality in the United States. Millions of people struggle with poverty and face hunger.

  • skookumchuck 5 months ago

    I meant food security in the sense of consistent food surpluses and not facing periodic starvation.

    Americans today throw away about 40% of the food produced, and are the fattest people on the planet.

  • mrec 5 months ago

    > and are the fattest people on the planet

    Not even close.


  • barbecue_sauce 5 months ago

    There's a few countries that are on there multiple times (like Mexico and New Zealand). How does that work?

  • ironic_ali 5 months ago

    Because NZ is so awesome, it's on the list twice!

  • taneq 5 months ago

    They're so fat that they had to buy extra tickets.

  • hn_throwaway_99 5 months ago

    Interesting to me that most of the countries high up on the list are dominated by indigenous populations that are even less able to deal with modern carb-rich Western diets than European-based populations. E.g. I'm assuming New Zealand is so high because of Maori people.

  • jzwinck 5 months ago

    Maori make up just 15% of the NZ population. They do however have more obese despite fewer who are only moderately overweight. Since the BMI ranking is by arithmetic mean, extremely fat people will have an outsize effect.

    Ref: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/populations/maori-health...

  • asteli 5 months ago

    There's speculation (not sure if it's more substantiated than) that the obesity rates seen in the Pacific islands may also involve selection for humans who could amass energy stores necessary for long oceanic voyages.

  • gweinberg 5 months ago

    Poppycock. Thy're eating meat because they can, not because they are starving and there is no vegetable matter available.

  • hn_throwaway_99 5 months ago

    But my point is in the wilderness the threat of starvation is an ever-present risk, so it helps not to be choosy. Modern humans in first world countries don't have that problem.

  • grawprog 5 months ago

    There are significant anatomical differences between herbivores and carnivores. Their digestive systems are specialized to processing either animal or plant based protein and fiber more efficiently. Herbivore teeth differe greatly from carnivore teeth and are specialized for grinding where as carnivore teeth tend to be specialized towards biting and tearing.

    Humans are omnivores. Like Black bears, raccoons etc. Our digestive system is capable of processing either plant or animal based protein fairly efficiently. Though there are some plant based proteins humans struggle to digest.



  • jmartrican 5 months ago

    Maybe the recent discoveries outlined in this article show that maybe there is no exclusive herbivore digestive system among most land based mammals.

  • grawprog 5 months ago

    There's a difference between eating your dead in a survival situation and consuming animal protein over an extended period of time. It's not that they're not capable of it. It's that their bofies aren't adapted to it and it's inefficient for them to process over long periods. Their bodies are adapted to process plants more efficiently so they do. If they're starving they'll eat what they can. Biologists have known this for a long time. This isn't new information. The differences in teeth and intestinal structure are very distinct. We've cutting open animals for a long time.

    Obligate Herbivores will have extra stomachs and digestive chambers, special reguritating mechanisms to allow rechewing of food.

    Obligate Carnivores tend to have shorter simpler digestive systems not capable of processing plant material.

    If anything I would be more impressed to find out some carnivores were found relying on plants than the other way around. Plants are harder to digest than meat is. A herbivore occasionally eating meat really isn't that rare or anything to get excited about.

    Discovering a tiger that lived on bamboo or something now that would be something new and would maybe be something we could use to start rewriting what we know about digestion.

  • amanaplanacanal 5 months ago

    Not so good at processing plant fiber though.

  • zaarn 5 months ago

    It's not just hares; deer and horses (for example) also eat meat if they can get it. They usually go for injured birds or squirrels that can't run away from them (naturally a horse isn't a good bird predator).

  • ohiovr 5 months ago

    I saw a video of a dear eating a live bird. Krazy

  • GrayShade 5 months ago

    Cows, too.

  • Farradfahren 5 months ago

    Those cocky bastards even organize hunts- chase the rabbit towards the road, then eat the road-kill.

  • ComputerGuru 5 months ago

    Jared Diamond (without explicitly naming sources) claims that cannibalism in humans (with the specific example of Polynesian peoples) arose from the lack of plant-based protein (they had no native cereals with non-negligible protein components) such as wheat, barley, or quinoa; and that this element was shared between most societies with cannibalistic histories.

  • tnzn 5 months ago

    Cant provide sources because I lost my written notes but Diamond's claims are often based off of cherry picking and iirc there are a lot of canibalistic societies which don't back this claim up. This is a hammer and nail issue. He wanted to push his environmental determinism everywhere and a bit tol far.

  • 5 months ago
  • klyrs 5 months ago

    Reminds me of one of my favorite urban animal experiences. There was a squirrel atop a nearby wall, and I had a little bit of trouble resolving its outline. It was holding onto the rear half of another squirrel, so the body outline was all confused. Processing further, I see that my little friend had a very bloody face. After we make momentary eye contact, it nonchalantly goes back to eating its lunch.

    Squirrels are so cute! Who doesn't love eating cute animals? Even cute animals agree!

  • Svoka 5 months ago

    Anthropomorphization is bad. Reminds me group selection studies, where scientists expected animals to self regulate and reduce amount of breeding in bad conditions, while in fact it just caused cannibalism.

  • yellowbuilding 5 months ago

    How is that anthropomorphization? Humans do all sorts of comparable things. In floundering economies, the wealthy get more greedy and protective. There is no end to the historical examples of cannibalism in dire times.

    We technically have social regulation norms, but those are ultimately threats of abandonment. Our emotions are dependent on mutual approval because that is beneficial to encouraging group-compatible behaviors.

  • mtnGoat 5 months ago

    Might as well get protein where they can.

  • heyjudy 5 months ago

    Mandatory killer rabbit:


  • devereaux 5 months ago

    If it's alive kill it!

    If it's dead, cook it!

    If it's cooked, eat it!

    (unless you are a rabbit: several steps become optional)

  • devereaux 5 months ago

    Downvote if you want, but I find that what my grandparents taught me is in a funny way still appropriate here :)

  • randyrand 5 months ago

    Humans generally do the same when they’re starving.

  • adventured 5 months ago

    Fortunately humans always have a choice and don't function by strict instinct:


  • 8bitsrule 5 months ago

    Always ... except for those who are lost at sea, or are victims of wilderness plane crashes, of course. And then there's vengeance, but I digress...

  • paulcole 5 months ago

    Great Stephen King short story:


  • lsc 5 months ago

    Survivor type is incredible. One of those Stephen King stories that sounds great even in outline; but the story, as one would expect from that author, is just beautiful.

    "I laughed at him. If this place isn't hell, what is? And the only mortal sin is giving up."

    Beautiful. But the transcription you linked isn't great; it's collected in "skeleton crew" available in paperback or on the kindle.

  • paulcole 5 months ago

    Yeah, I didn’t want to link directly to a PDF of it.

    Outline.com seems to be the HN-endorsed site for copyright infringement.

  • swampthinker 5 months ago

    Only the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch can stop them!

  • escherplex 5 months ago

    Only if they can count to three.

  • wyldfire 5 months ago

    Five is right out.

  • _pRwn_ 5 months ago

    so Monty Python was right after all ...

  • exabrial 5 months ago

    Oh, it's just a harmless little bunny, I told you....

  • worldstarhiphop 5 months ago

    Yum, heme iron, atherosclerosis, and cancer.