Let's say your plane crashes and you end up in a forest in a cold Russian winter miles away from civilization. You have lost all your clothing; completely butt naked.

You manage to get fire and make somewhat of a shelter from the elements. You have water because you can melt snow on the fire. But you have no food and you have been starving for 16 days so far, and you know it will be another 20 days until help gets there.

Then you find a rabbit. Just magically there in a cage; alive. Must have been a pet rabbit that fell out of the plane's cargo hold during the crash...

Obviously you could kill it and eat it. But there is a reason why that might be a bad idea (mal de caribou: Protein Poisoning).

So what else you could use the rabbit for?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 10, 2019 at 19:02
  • 2
    For the avoidance of doubt, the number of upvotes here are a direct result of this question appearing on the HNQ, NOT because this is a good, on-topic question here.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 10, 2019 at 19:04
  • @RoryAlsop Whether the question is good or not is entirely subjective. It certainly is not objectively bad. Whether it is on topic is another matter, and it is indeed on topic. Eating a rabbit is an obvious choice, but OP wants to know what else can be done. The core of the question is as simple as that, and that is 100% definitely undoubtedly completely on topic.
    – Loduwijk
    Jul 14, 2019 at 1:28
  • Sadly, it really isn't on topic in its original form, nor its edited form. It's a fictitous situation, which doesn't really have any real world relevance. @Loduwijk - pop int chat if you like, so we can discuss.
    – Rory Alsop
    Jul 14, 2019 at 17:57

3 Answers 3


Summary: eat the rabbit. Every single bit of it.

With 1 rabbit per day, you are in starvation while probably not exceeding your normal capacity for daily protein digestion, though it may very well exceed the protein digestion capacity if you are in total starvation (also without protein) for a prolonged amount of time.

In any case, you should stretch it out over a longer time.

Rabbit Starvation

To add to @bob1's answer, according to the German wiki page on the topic, there are two known main contributing factors to rabbit starvation:

  1. Too much protein together with
  2. insufficient total energy intake.

The "untrained" (wrt. protein intake) human body can digest up to ≈ 200 - 300 g protein per day, that's about 3500 - 5000 kJ. For comparison, a medium active standard male (1 h/day medium heavy work - which doesn't seem much in a survival in Russian winter scenario) needs 12500 kJ/day corresponding to the meat of about 8 European rabbits. In turn, this means that no more than 30 - 40 % of the needed energy can possibly come from protein.

Plus (or rather, minus) for long term life as a hunter as opposed to survival for a few weeks some of that protein to be used for protein (muscles, connective tissue, bones etc.): maybe some 80 g (rough guesstimate based on numbers from Egan, British Nutrition FoundationNutrition Bulletin,41, 202–213, 2016.)

That would amount to pure protein diet leading to something in the order of magnitude of 75 - 80 % caloric intake deficit. In other words, severe starvation.

In addition it seems that unlike total starvation, in rabbit starvation the hunger feeling (craving for fat and carbohydrates) never ceases.

Note that also the English wiki page linked in the question cites a description that the sickness sets in after about a week of eating as much rabbit as possible but basically nothing else. I.e., considerably more than just one rabbit.

The survival situation.

Meat of a wild prey animals is very lean, often around 3,5 % and 20 - 22 % protein. Domestic animals like domestic rabbits or cow have roughly twice as much fat (7ish %) according to this website comparing venison with the meat of corresponding domestic animals (sorry, in German but the numbers are internationally readable) (at least when grown up, growing animal meat like veal can be very lean).

Your caged rabbit would already be better in that respect than a wild hare.

Also, as @bob1 pointed out, there are more fatty parts of the rabbit body: bone marrow, spinal marrow, brain, inner organs such as liver and kidneys (though the latter may not contain that much fat in lean rabbits - but I didn't find numbers). If the cage rabbit was someone's bunny always living in a cage, chances are that it has some more fat deposits. You'd clearly want to eat them.

Last but not least, let's assume the rabbit weighs 2 kg*. The meaty parts still with bones will be 50 - 60 %, sorry, German again, so 1 - 1.2 kg plus maybe 100 - 150 g of internal organs for eating (Brown et al, ORGAN WEIGHTS OF NORMAL RABBITS, 1925.). Assuming 20 % protein i.e. lean muscle tissue, ignoring bones etc. that's about 220 - 250 g pure protein (3700 - 4250 kJ) and maybe 10 - 20 g of fat (400 - 800 kJ).

So eating the whole rabbit in one day would get you just to the upper limit of possible daily protein intake.

For practical reasons you'd probably want to stretch it out a bit, so you still have something substantial to chew for the next days - but the situation will overall be just normal starvation, no or only small protein excess.

Longer term, you should limit yourself to not more than 1 rabbit per day to avoid the protein excess.

In order not to loose anything, salvage or produce a pot from the remainders of the plane and make a stew of the thing.
In addition, as this is about surving, I'd for sure include the rabbit blood and I'd seriously consider whether the stomach to cecum contents and cecotropes would be considered veggies under these conditions. Droppings and urine not, obviously, and if there's sufficient (liquid) water, the kidney will do with some watering.

* For European wild rabbits 2 kg is quite a big animal. Domestic rabbit breeds that are bred for meat production slaughtered at 2 - 3.5 kg (but can get much bigger when fully grown), pet breeds are usually smaller.

Edit: I forgot that the rabbit magically appears after you are already 2 weeks in total starvation in (Russian) winter. In that situation, it's probably a last and pleasant hallucination.

Anyways, magically, you are capable and the rabbit is real. Then you'll need to start eating slowly to avoid refeeding syndrome: even if there are almost no carbohydrates in the rabbit stew, and the whole thing in terms of energy intake is not even 2 days of starting recommendation for refeeding, my guess is that your liver has been economizing for a while already, so in that situation the possible daily protein intake is lowered). Also, the electrolytes are not in the required balance, comparably too few K⁺ in relation to the Na⁺ - stomach and gut contents ("veggies") may help a bit in that respect.

So maybe only a bit of the broth for the first meal, and from then on in small amounts to strech out that stew over several days.


You can, of course, use the skin for some (minimal) clothing - furs are nice and warm.

You could also use the animal as bait (living or dead) to attract larger animals (bigger skins) or for fishing.

You could also boil the meat and skin to extract the fat components, which then could be consumed in a broth/soup. Marrow from the bones is very nutritious, there won't be much of it, but you can still eat it.

Fresh (uncooked) bone can also be used to make implements such as needles and spear/arrowheads.

Blood can be used to make sausages (blood pudding/black pudding), or fried/cooked as is - it's not pretty or tasty, but quite nutritious.

The logical answer is you eat it - Mal de caribou is only likely if you are subsisting for a long time on a diet low in fat. In a short-term starvation situation with guaranteed recovery such as you describe Mal de caribou is unlikely.


One rabbit will not make a meaningful impact to your food situation, nor your clothing situation. Since you have water, you can survive for a while yet, especially if you were carrying some body fat already. Instead your bigger concern is psychological. So I would say, keep the rabbit for company.

If you had 20 rabbits, sure, make a nice rabbit stew per the other answers, and a rabbit fur cloak and all the rest, but you don’t. But having said that, after two weeks of starvation, eating anything hastily-cooked is likely to make you sick.

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