Rabbits have many predators to worry about in the wild, and birds of prey, like eagles, are among the most feared. While eagles tend to favor fish as their primary source of protein, eagles will also hunt small vermin and rodents, including voles, squirrels, and the occasional rabbit.
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In most areas of the country, eagles do not pose an immediate threat to rabbits housed outdoors, although proper protection from aerial predators like hawks and owls should always be taken. If you live in an area close to water, your chances of an eagle predator preying on your rabbit will significantly increase.
What Outdoor Animals Are Dangerous for Rabbits?
Keeping your rabbits housed outdoors is a great way to give your rabbits the largest and most natural enclosure possible. However, pet owners who have outdoor hutches for their rabbits should be aware of the outdoors’ potential dangers. Several wild animals could potentially prey on your rabbit. Some wild animal dangers include:
- Birds of Prey – Several birds of prey have been known to frequent the suburban backyard will prey on small animals like rabbits. Not only will eagles attack small animals, but hawks, falcons, crows, and even owls will hunt and eat rabbits.
- Foxes – Although often viewed as a scavenger, the fox is an advantageous hunter that will not turn down an easy meal in a rabbit. Foxes are crafty and fast and can get into even the most secure outdoor rabbit hutches.
- Cats and Dogs – While technically not wild animals, neighborhood cats and dogs pose a massive threat to pet rabbits kept outdoors. Not only will these animals chase and attack rabbits, but their urine could carry dangerous bacteria which could make your rabbit very sick.
- Raccoons – The ultimate scavenger, the raccoon is a resourceful hunter. Although this animal may be more likely to eat mice, voles, and fish, it has been known to hunt and eat small rabbits.
- Coyotes – Similar to foxes, coyotes are ruthless when it comes to hunting and eating prey. Coyotes will often seek out rabbits for their meal and can be challenging to get rid of once a coyote knows there is a potential food source in your yard.
- Bears – If you live in an area where bears are present, be sure to use the proper precautions to protect your rabbits. Although bears primarily eat fruits, vegetables, and seeds, they will eat rabbits if they are desperate for a meal. Bears are strong and powerful and can break into and open even the most secure rabbit hutch designs.
How Can My Rabbit Live Safely Outdoors?
Many owners choose to house their rabbits outdoors to provide more room and a better living environment for their beloved pets. Before housing your rabbits outdoors, be sure to make the proper hutch that keeps your rabbits safe, and well-protected. You need to design and build a hutch that protects the rabbits from:
- Weather – Depending on where you live, you may combat various weather conditions. Be sure your rabbit enclosure stays warm, dry, and safe from wind gusts. The hutch should be raised above the ground to prevent flooding and provide access to plenty of sunlight and fresh air. Be sure your rabbit has a place to escape direct sunlight, so it does not become overheated.
- Predators – Aside from the weather, predators will be the biggest concern for your rabbits. Ensure that latches are tight and secure, the hutch has a solid and sturdy construction, and open areas are protected with thick and strong chain link mesh instead of thin chicken wire.
- Escape – Rabbits are notorious escape artists and can quickly figure out latches intended to keep them in their hutch. Assume if a small child can figure out how to open a latch, a rabbit can figure it out also. Rabbits can also dig, so be sure to add protective chicken wire under the ground beneath the hutch to prevent escape.
- Boredom – You’ll need to protect your rabbit from boredom outdoors by providing plenty of room to exercise. Your rabbits will need access to an exercise run to allow them to romp around and enjoy natural foraging and rabbit behavior. Be sure the run is protected with thick chain link mesh to deter predators and prevent escape.
How Do I Know If an Eagle Is In My Area?
There are many types of eagles in the country, but all are birds of prey. Identifying an eagle in your yard may be challenging, but usually, there are some sure signs that an eagle is present. First, you may notice the remains of an eagle’s meal. Usually, these birds prefer to eat fish, so finding fish bones and carcasses near your property could indicate that an eagle is in the area.
Secondly, eagles are opportunistic hunters and will attack small songbirds. Birds that normally frequent your yard or bird feeders may go quiet or mysteriously disappear. When small birds fly away from your yard or go into hiding, it is usually a sign that a larger predator, like an eagle or a similar bird of prey, is actively hunting in the area.
How Do I Deter Eagles?
Although large birds of prey, eagles are opportunistic hunters and will only seek out rabbits if they have no other food options or see your pet rabbit as an easy target. Always keep your rabbits safely housed and protected in a specifically intended outdoor rabbit hutch.
To keep eagles away from your yard, try to take away any high vantage points that an eagle may use to perch and hunt. Cut down dead branches and trees, and make fence posts uncomfortable to perch upon. Eagles will also hunt other small birds and prey animals, so eliminating bird feeders is a good way to keep eagles out of your yard. Not only will bird feeders detract small songbirds from visiting, but the lack of dispelled seeds will cause mice, moles, and squirrels to look elsewhere for a meal.
What Should I Do If an Eagle Attacks My Rabbit?
Even with the best precautions put in place, accidents can still happen. Eagles are incredibly powerful and strong and will take any opportunity to find a quick meal. If you notice an eagle has attacked your rabbit, quick thinking and action could potentially save your pet’s life.
First, do anything you can to frighten or scare away the eagle preying on your rabbit. Gather your rabbit and try to stop any bleeding. Immediately call your veterinarian to seek further medical instruction. If you cannot reach your veterinarian, call the ASPCA, which has valuable information on how to treat and help your pet in the event of an emergency. Rabbits are small animals, and injuries can cause their health to decline rapidly if not immediately cared for.
Rabbits face many threats when housed outdoors from predators. Keeping a rabbit outdoors could subject your rabbit to an attack from a bird of prey, like an eagle. Although eagles usually favor fish as their preferred meal, an opportunistic eagle will not shy away from hunting and eating a rabbit.
Be sure to keep your rabbits in a well-secured outdoor hutch if you know of an eagle present in your area. Deter eagles from staying in your yard by eliminating bird feeders and possible vantage points. Always seek immediate medical attention for your rabbit should an attack occur.