Cannibal rabbits in the province of Valladolid. That is the complaint: that since, in 2020, Naturgy installed a wind farm on the outskirts of Valverde de Campos, the rabbits of the nearest farm (one of the largest in Spain dedicated to rabbit farming) have gone completely crazy. . To the point that they are eating each other.
What happened? Mainly the noise. According to Nacho del Campo, a rancher and owner of the farm, during these two years the impact of the wind turbines has been brutal. “It is generating high mortality. It also generates infertility for females. The females that are the ones that produce die and those that do not, cannot get pregnant… this is unfeasible. We are below 50% of our productive level”, he explained in Cuatro.
The farm has requested several measurements in which it seems to prove that “the 63.4 dB at night and 60.9dB during the day”. According to a report endorsed by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, these would be very high figures, taking into account that from 20dB there could begin to be stress problems .
Stress? Do animals suffer ‘stress’? Stress is something that crosses species barriers and actually causes a lot of problems. Problems ranging from immune disorders, insomnia, anxiety (intense and constant restlessness, excitement and insecurity) or infertility to intestinal and musculoskeletal problems of all kinds. So much so that it has become one of the great topics of modern veterinary medicine.
But can it really cause cannibalism? Well, although it sounds very strange (and, obviously, we cannot know if this is indeed the case), the truth is that it is documented. Among the many causes that have been found to explain cannibalism between parents and children, ‘stress’ is one of the best known (and researched).
As Javer Yanes explained, “it frequently occurs in animals in captivity.” Things like “cleaning rat cages too frequently encourages cannibalism” and, in the case of rabbits, this type of cannibalism has been shown to be an adaptive response to “environmental interference.”
Parents who eat their children. Biologists have wondered for decades why many species (including rabbits) eat their young. It is something that has always been known, but it seems to go against evolutionary theses: by killing off their litters, parents are limiting the scope of their offspring. Why would they do that?
The truth is that there seem to be many reasons and almost all of them are related to the viability of the litter. Having young is a very long and expensive process: therefore, if the environmental circumstances change and the resources needed to raise them exceed the forecasts, the parents can make the decision that it is better to cut their losses and save efforts for the future. . It is, after all, pure survival.
In other words, systematic reviews on the subject show that it is a very common response to dangerous situations. And, of course, we can define stress as a permanent and indefinite feeling of danger. At least, on a physiological level. So yes: it would not be unusual for rabbits to “eat each other” under high levels of stress.
The dark side of renewables. In recent years, criticism of renewables has been growing progressively. Many of these criticisms have leaked into popular culture and in a single year they have starred in two of the most awarded films in Spanish cinema. However, much remains to be investigated.
And the story of the cannibal rabbits in Pucela is the best example of this.
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Image | Xataka with Midjourney