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Nele Somers, Binke D'Haese, Beatrijs Bossuyt, Luc Lens, and Maurice Hoffmann (2008)

Food quality affects diet preference of rabbits: experimental evidence


When foraging, small mammalian herbivores do not show a preference for the forage with the highest biomass, which can be explained by several hypotheses (e.g. antipredator considerations, more difficult handling of tall swards and/or the higher nutritional quality of shorter grasses). We tested the ability of rabbits to discriminate between plants of different nutritional value and whether they prefer the most nutritious. A feeding trial in which rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus (Linnaeus, 1758)) were offered two different types of grasses (fertilised and unfertilised) was executed under experimental conditions. The rabbits preferred the grasses with the highest protein percentage, when conditions were controlled for sward height/plant biomass. This observation is equivalent to results obtained in geese and provides experimental evidence about the capability of rabbits to select for plants with the highest nutritional quality.

diet selection; feeding trial; grazing; herbivore; rabbit
  • ISSN: 0777-6276

ISSN 2295-0451 (online version)
ISSN 0777-6279 (printed version)
impact factor 2015: 0,87.

Prof. Dr. Isa Schön
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Annales de la Société malacologique de Belgique
​Annales de la Société royale malacologique et zoologique de Belgique
Annales de la Société Royale Zoologique de Belgique
Belgian Journal of Zoology