Deer do not hunt down and eat rabbits. This is because deer are not adapted to digest meat. They can only digest plant products.
Deer fall under the herbivores subgroup. Animals that fall under this subgroup are not able to digest meat. This is because their stomachs do not have the required enzymes to break down the meat into absorbable bits.
Only carnivores and omnivores can digest and absorb meat. Carnivores live on a diet of meat only while omnivores live on both meat and plants.
It is however not uncommon to find cases where deer have been seen feeding on dead animal flesh. They do this as a survival method when food is scarce.
Why Don’t Deer Eat Rabbit?
Deer do not eat rabbit because they are not adapted to hunt them down. They will also have a hard time digesting the meat.
Unlike carnivores like bobcats, deer are not adapted to hunt down rabbits. They lack the sharp sense of smell and acute vision to hunt down and spot the rabbits. They also don’t have the sharp teeth needed to catch and kill the rabbit itself.
Deer teeth is also another thing to consider when talking about what they eat. Their teeth are not adapted to tear into meat and effectively chew it. This makes it hard to break down meat into smaller parts that would be the right size for digestion.
When it comes to digesting the meat, deer cannot properly digest it. Carnivores have less complex systems compared to deer but their digestive systems contain enzymes that are able to break down the meat appropriately.
Fact File: The Deer’s Digestive System
Herbivores are animals that live primarily on plants and cannot digest meat.
Deer as herbivores have developed complex digestive systems able to digest plant materials properly. Plants have high cellulose content and are hard to digest, hence the need of a complex digestive system.
Their digestive systems are long and complex. This gives the food enough time and space to be digested properly. Most large herbivores such as deer have symbiotic bacteria present in their digestive tract. These bacteria assist in the breaking down of cellulose.
Deer can also be classified as ruminants. These are herbivores with multiple stomach chambers. These stomach chambers are used to ferment the cellulose rich food to retain its nutrition value. Ruminants are also known to regurgitate food. The regurgitated food is known as cud.
They do this to break down the cud further to soften and expose it well for digestion. The cud then travels down the four stomach chambers where it is digested and absorbed into their bodies.
Deer can also be classified as browsers. Browsers feed on high-growing plants. These are herbivores that feed on leaves, soft shoots, foliage and shrubs. They generally do not eat grass.
What will Happen if Deer eat Rabbit?
It all depends on the amount of rabbit meat the deer eats. If the animal eats moderate quantities nothing will happen to it. This is however not the case when it only lives on a diet of rabbit.
It is not uncommon to get reports of herbivores occasionally eating meat. There could be various reasons for this. Experts believe that the animal experiences a deficiency in their diet and is trying to make up for it by eating meat.
Deer don’t require meat to survive. Their complex digestive system is capable of extracting all their required nutrients from plants. They are also not equipped to hunt down animals like carnivores. Their dental formula is also not adapted to break down meat appropriately.
When it comes to the digestion of the meat itself, their digestive systems lack the required enzymes to break down the meat. If deer were to be given a large chunk of meat to eat, it would most likely rot in their stomach.
If deer were to commit to a diet of rabbit meat the first and most imminent thing to experience is indigestion. Because they will have trouble digesting the meat, very little nutrients will be absorbed into their bodies. This eventually leads to malnutrition if the animal does not revert to its original diet.
Alternative Foods for Deer
Deer feed on high-growing plants. These include leaves, soft shoots, foliage, and shrubs.
Deer are herbivores meaning that their main diet consists of plant products. Herbivores are commonly divided into two: browsers and grazers. Deer fall under browsers. Browsers feed on high-growing plants while grazers feed on grasses and plants that are close to the ground.
Deer are occasionally known to graze when food is scarce. They also have the ability to eat tree bark and twigs when food availability is low.
Occasionally deer have reportedly been seen feeding on eggs and small quantities of meat. This is to supplement their diet if it lacks some of the nutrients they require.
Related: What Eats Deer?
Do Rabbits have Predators?
Carnivores such as wolves and bobcats are known to hunt and feed on rabbits.
Carnivores are animals whose main diet consists mainly of meat products. They are known to hunt down and kill prey before feeding on their flesh.
Bob cats have various adaptations to help them hunt down and eat rabbit. First, they possess strong jaw muscles which they use to grip and kill prey. They also have sharp retractable claws to enable them to grip their prey.
Their teeth are also perfectly adapted to tear meat from bone and crush the bones themselves. Finally, their digestive systems have also evolved to enable them to digest raw meat and effectively extract nutrients from meat.
Deer are not commonly known to feed on meat. This does not mean that there has never been cases of them doing the same.
They may turn to meat to gain nutrients that are otherwise absent in their diet or as a source of food when it is scarce. There are however various health issues that might affect deer if they rely on a diet of meat.
Because their digestive systems are not designed to digest meat they might end up with indigestion and malnourishment. It is however not an abnormality when they occasionally feed on meat.
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