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Quality of the Diet Selected By Wild Rabbits (Oryctolagus Cuniculus (L.)) in Autumn and Winter

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Diet quality for a population of wild rabbits was determined by assessing the quality of the stomach contents. Two parameters were measured: digestibility (energy content) and crude protein. Digestibility of the food was analysed by comparing the contents of stomach and faeces with an internal tracer. Rabbits digest only one-third of the cell wall constituents (CWC). The total digestibility of the food was below the standard of maintenance from December till March. So winter diet may influence the survival of the rabbits. Crude protein (CP) was determined by the Kjeldahl procedure. The CP value of the stomach content remained high in all seasons. It is discussed to what extent CP in the stomach equates CP in the diet.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Population Biology, Research Group: Ecology of Plants and Herbivores, University of Leiden, Postbus 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands; 2: Department of Field Crops and Grassland Science, Agricultural University, Haarweg 33, 6709 PH Wageningen, The Netherlands


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