In order to avoid “rabbit starvation” we must first have an understanding of what “rabbit starvation” is. Rabbit Starvation, as it is commonly referred to among survivalists and outdoorsmen, is actually a form of malnutrition called protein poisoning.
It’s caused by the restricted diet of lean meat animals, such as rabbits, without the adequate amounts of additional carbohyrates and fats.
The famous Canadian Arctic explorer, ethnologist, anthropologist and wilderness explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson wrote about this condition in several of his books:
“But it has been found in various parts of the world that a diet of lean meat exclusively will cause diarrhea in from three days to a week. If no fat can be added to the lean, the diarrhea becomes serious and will lead to death. A well known field where such deaths occur is the northern edge of the forest in Canada where Indians are sometimes unable to find any food except rabbits. The expression “rabbit starvation,” frequently heard among the Athapsc Indians north-west of Great Bear Lake, means not that people are starving because there are no rabbits but that they are going through the experience of starvation with plenty of rabbit meat. For this animal is so lean that illness and death result from being confined to its flesh.”
When protein is converted into glucose by the liver it can turn to energy. Unfortunately, the liver can only process a limited amount of protein at a time. If the body receives more protein than it can process, the strain on the liver and kidneys will cause an increase of ammonia and amino acids. The liver will flush the excess waste into the bloodstream, resulting in the dangerous and possibly fatal condition we call “rabbit starvation”
This condition can turn deadly if the necessary adjustments aren’t made as soon as the first signs of protein poisoning rear its ugly head.
The first symptoms to appear are a feeling of extreme and insatiable hunger. The body starts craving non-proteins, such as sugary carbs and fatty fats. After the cravings comes extreme fatigue and headache and then diarrhea. Another risk at this stage is dehydration from the diarrhea.
In a survival situation, your only available food source may be the lean meat animals, particularly during winter months when wild edibles are scarce. If this is the case, than consuming the fatty parts, such as the brains, eyes and liver, may be your only option for a source of fat. The brains and bone marrow of rabbits are extremely fatty. Yes, it sounds disgusting, but it may be the only possible way to avoid protein poisoning and maybe even save your life.