Sometimes we forget that rabbits are prey animals because of the way they display courage and audacity. They do not show weaknesses, even when sick. When cornered or threatened, they can give a lunging bite.
But, despite all this, rabbits are still prey. If left outside, other animals can eat them.
Wild rabbits live in underground burrows called “warrens.” These warrens serve as homes and provide a hiding place from predators on the surface.
Being underground gives them control and some sort of protection against animals that may want to eat them. In addition, they are classified as crepuscular animals, which means they are active at dawn and dusk.
Our pet rabbits, therefore, need special spaces where they can feel safe and protected from animals that can eat them, such as wolves, dogs, feral cats, coyotes, snakes, birds of prey, etc. Predators are a constant threat.
What types of animals eat rabbits?
Despite being cute and fluffy, many animals try to hunt and eat rabbits (both wild and domestic).
Here’s quite a long list of rabbit predators:
Wolves hunt and eat all kinds of animals in the wild, and rabbits are no exception. They are carnivores and predatory animals. Rabbits are much smaller than wolves, and while they are fast and intelligent, they are relatively easy for wolves to clinch with their jaws and cause serious damage.
Usually, wolves prefer to eat large animals such as deer. But they sometimes need to supplement their diet with small mammals such as rabbits. Also, wolves hunt rabbits when their food is scarce.
Coyotes are nocturnal animals. They hunt for food from dusk to dawn, which makes it easy for them to prey on rabbits, because they are most active during dawn and dusk.
In addition, they’re omnivores, which means they can eat plants and meat.
However, a large part of their diet consists of small mammals, such as rabbits, mice, rats, etc.
Coyotes aren’t only found in the wild. Sometimes, they are mistaken for dogs. Therefore, they can sneak into your yard and feast on your pet rabbit.
Dogs are descendants of wolves, and most retain their predatory instincts. Wild dogs hunt rabbits for food. It is common to see domestic dogs chasing after rabbits for fun or food, depending on the breed.
You need to keep the following breeds of dogs away from your rabbits because they are most likely to prey on them:
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Fox Terriers
- Basset Hounds
- Redbone Coonhounds
Cats are well known for hunting small rodents and birds, but they can also hunt rabbits. Studies show that feral cats hunt and eat the most numerous prey animals in the area.
Therefore, if there are a lot of rabbits in the area, feral cats will probably hunt and eat them.
Foxes are omnivores and have a diverse diet. They scavenge for food anywhere; in dustbins, gardens, and backyards. They can eat anything they get their paws on. In the wild, foxes eat rabbits as one of their main food sources.
Rabbits are a valuable source of nutrients for them, so they are likely going to come into your pet rabbit’s hutch if they see an opportunity.
Rabbits are fast and have great senses of sight, smell, and hearing, allowing them to deal with predators in a short time. However, foxes are cunning, tricky, and clever. They have the stamina to keep up the chase and an incredible night vision to see rabbits in their burrows at night.
We think of raccoons as intelligent, curious, and cute creatures. But they are opportunistic omnivores that can kill and eat rabbits.
However, rabbits don’t make their first meal choice because they are faster than them and can put up a good fight.
Rabbits don’t have excellent eyesight at night. So they rely on their other senses to escape predators. Raccoons, on the other hand, are nocturnal, so they have an advantage over rabbits. during these times.
Additionally, they are smart. When they spot a rabbit, they stalk it until the rabbit is close enough to attack. They rely on their sharp nails and teeth to cause damage to a rabbit during a fight.
Bears are big and fierce animals with big claws and sharp teeth. Their diet varies depending on what’s available, but most of their diet typically consists of grasses, berries, roots, and insects.
They also eat fish and small mammals such as rabbits. Rabbits are too fast for bears. But they can attack and eat a rabbit if an opportunity presents itself.
To them, rabbits are a meal of opportunity and availability. When catching a rabbit, a bear will use its large claws and a big body to ambush a rabbit from behind.
Snakes are obligate carnivores, which means they eat other animals to survive. They don’t eat plants because they wouldn’t get any nutrition from them.
Snakes are not picky eaters, so they’ll eat any meat they come across. Rabbits are an easy and low-threat diet for them. A rabbit’s hutch can attract a snake because it’s easy to access.
Rabbits are small enough for them to swallow whole. Any snake over two feet long can eat a young rabbit. A snake will eat a rabbit if it’s big enough to swallow it whole.
The following are some common kinds of snakes that eat rabbits.
- Brown Snake
- Black Tree Snake
- Boa Constrictors
Badgers are known to eat wild rabbits and rabbits in hutches or outdoor enclosures. Their main food is earthworms, which make up around 80% of their diet. But being omnivorous, they can eat anything, including rabbits.
Their sense of smell and long claws help them locate and dig into underground burrows and nests of rabbits.
Weasels are opportunistic hunters. They are carnivores that will hunt and eat other animals. Small rodents such as voles and mice are their primary prey, but they can also take on larger prey such as rabbits.
Weasels rely on their excellent sense of smell and ability to dig underground to find prey. They have a high metabolism, so they can eat multiple times a day and store food for later.
Stoats predominantly eat meat. They eat small mammals, insects, reptiles, birds, bird eggs, and amphibians. They are small predators with long, thin bodies that make it easy for them to hunt.
Rabbits are their favorite prey. They stalk through their territory for opportunistic kills. In addition, they are fast and furious and can take on prey more than five times their size.
Of course, humans may, in some cases, be considered rabbit predators. This is because some humans breed rabbits for commercial slaughter. Others hunt them not only for their meat but also for their coats.
What birds eat rabbits?
Birds are not a common problem in urban areas, but if you’re in a rural area, you might need to protect your rabbit from them.
Birds can attack and eat rabbits, especially if they are in free range. The following birds can eat rabbits. They have evolved into rabbit predators, and they all have different hunting techniques.
Eagles can hunt, attack, and eat rabbits. They are opportunistic eaters, feeding on the most readily available prey. There are different types of eagles, but Bald eagles and Golden eagles often eat rabbits.
About 70-90% of the Bald eagle’s main diet is fish, but they can and do eat rabbits if they come across them. Golden eagles are mostly found in remote areas and have a large hunting radius, and thus should be a concern to most outdoor rabbit owners.
Owls’ diets are made up of all sorts of things. Almost all species of owls hunt rabbits. Young rabbits can be prey for most owls (even young owls), while large owls, including barn and barred owls, can hunt and eat large rabbits.
Owls make great predators because they’re nocturnal and have good eyesight, hearing, precision, speed, and patience.
They mostly attack rabbits that are out hunting. They wait on tree branches until the rabbit is not alarmed and then attack with their sharp talons and eat them right away.
Hawks prey on birds and small mammals, including rabbits. Their diet consists of what is locally available in abundance. Hawks are unique creatures because they can fly near the ground, looking for prey. Male hawks tend to mainly attack birds, while their female counterparts prefer to attack small mammals.
Like owls and eagles, there are different species of hawks; for example, Red-Tailed and Red-shouldered hawks. They are similar in that they have red patches on their tails and shoulders, and they both eat rabbits.
Falcons can be found in different habitats, including cities, open fields, and rural areas. They mainly prey on small animals such as rabbits. Falcons eat wild and domestic rabbits. So, you shouldn’t leave your pet rabbit outside unsupervised.
How do rabbits evade predators?
Although they are small, they have special features and several tricks up their sleeves that can prevent them from being eaten by predators.
Rabbits have many physical adaptations that allow them to thrive and survive as prey animals.
- Ears: Their large eyes allow them to hear predators, giving them time to act quickly.
- Eyes: They have sharp eyes on each side of their heads. These eyes help them notice and detect any movement and danger approaching from behind.
- Strong hind legs: They help them run and jump quickly from predators.
Rabbits have a few tricks to increase their chances of survival.
- Freeze response: This is usually the first response in most cases, especially where the predator has not spotted them. They can stay still and even play dead.
- Flight response: Their chance of survival depends on their ability to flee. When the flight response is activated, they undergo many psychological changes to help them increase their agility and endurance.
- Hiding response: Most of the time, rabbits hunt in areas that are familiar to them. So when predators appear, they run fast, making sudden turns straight to their hiding spots.
- Fight response: When all else fails, and the rabbit gets cornered, he can fight his way out. Rabbits have strong hind legs that they can use to kick opponents.
How can you protect your rabbit from predators?
If you have a pet rabbit, your priorities should be their safety and well-being. This means that you have to protect them from predators.
Keep your rabbits in the house
The most effective way to ensure your rabbits are safe is to keep them indoors. Pet rabbits are fine being indoors as long as they have access to food, water, toys, and space to jump up and down.
Another plus is that you can litter-train rabbits. You don’t have to worry about them peeing and pooping in your house. Also, it’s pretty easy to rabbit-proof a room.
Predator proof the hutch
If you can’t keep the rabbits inside the house, you can predator-proof their hutch using the following methods.
- Strengthen the wiring to prevent large animals from getting in.
- Put some kind of bolt in place to secure the entry.
- Move the hutch to a concrete floor that cannot be penetrated by digging.
Keep animals out of your yard
Rabbits can die out of shock when they see a predator, even if they are safe in their hutch. So, it’s important to make your yard unappealing to animals.
- Keep your yard clean
- Eliminate hiding or nesting areas by keeping your grass short and eliminating standing water
- Seal off spaces where animals can crawl into the yard
- Avoid food scraps
Supervise the rabbits
If your rabbits go outside for whatever reason, you must supervise them at all times. You shouldn’t leave them unsupervised, even for 5 minutes, because some predators, such as foxes, can’t get to where humans are.
We hope that this list has helped you know what animals eat rabbits. They have many predators; wild animals such as raccoons and weasels, your other pets (cats and dogs), your neighbors, and birds.
With all these dangers from every corner, it’s important to ensure your rabbit is safe and well-protected.
To ensure their safety, keep your rabbits indoors, strengthen their hutch, make your yard unappealing to predators, and supervise them when they go outside.