If you keep your rabbit outside, it’s open to attacks by predators such as falcons; however, not all falcons attack rabbits. So, specifically which falcons are prone to attacking rabbits? Where can these falcons be found? How can you protect your rabbit from falcon attacks? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions.
Table of contents
- Does the American Kestrel Eat Rabbits?
- Does the Peregrine Falcon Eat Rabbits?
- Does the Prairie Falcon Eat Rabbits?
- Does the Gyrfalcon Eat Rabbits?
- Does the Merlin Eat Rabbits?
- Does the Aplomado Falcon Eat Rabbits?
- Does the Collared Forest Falcon Eat Rabbits?
- Does the Eurasian Hobby Eat Rabbits?
- Does the Eurasian Kestrel Eat Rabbits?
- Do Falcons Eat Rabbits?
- How to Protect Your Rabbit from Falcons
- How Can You Protect your Rabbit from Predators?
At least nine types of falcons have been spotted in North America. Some are native to major parts of the United States. Some are occasional visitors in the deep South, especially Texas, and the extreme northern states. Some are anomalies and aren’t native, nor normally seen, but since they’ve been sighted, we’ve listed them. (Click on the links for pictures of each type of falcon which can help in their identification.)
Falcons seen both frequently and infrequently in the U.S. include:
- American Kestrel
- Peregrine Falcon
- Prairie Falcon
- Aplomado Falcon
- Collared-forest Falcon
- Eurasian Hobby
- Eurasian Kestrel
Below you’ll learn if these falcons pose a risk to your bun. We cover where the falcon is typically found and its typical diet. Fortunately, most falcons don’t eat rabbits, although smaller dwarf breeds, such as the Lionhead, will be more tempting, even for falcons who don’t normally eat rabbits, because of their size.
Even for falcons who eat rabbits, they’re more prone to aerial kills making birds, insects and bats more of a target than a rabbit, especially a larger breed rabbit, such as the Flemish Giant.
Does the American Kestrel Eat Rabbits?
Once known as the Sparrow Hawk, the American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. The American Kestrel’s territory covers most of the North American continent.
American Kestrels eat insects, small reptiles, small birds and small mammals such as mice and shrews. Rabbit is not part of the Kestrel’s diet plan. Rabbits are much larger than the prey they would normally attempt to kill.
Does the Peregrine Falcon Eat Rabbits?
There are at least three subspecies of Peregrine Falcon in North American. Once called the “Duck Hawk,” the Peregrine Falcon is found on every continent except Antarctica. It was put on the endangered list in the 1960s and 70s but is making a comeback due to conservation efforts. Peregrine Falcons are the fastest bird in the world, diving at speeds between 200 and 300 mph.
The Peregrine Falcon’s diet consists mostly of other birds, large and small – 450 different North American species have been documented as their prey. Rabbits are not a normal part of the Peregrine Falcon’s diet.
Does the Prairie Falcon Eat Rabbits?
The Prairie Falcon is native to the grasslands and plains of the western half of the United States.
Prairie Falcons eat mostly small to medium-sized birds, reptiles and small mammals, including rabbits.
Does the Gyrfalcon Eat Rabbits?
The largest falcon in the world, the Gyrfalcon prefers colder climates. It’s often found in the northernmost parts of the United States and the southern parts of Canada during the winter months where it hunts waterfowl on the open water. It nests in the high arctic for the remainder of the year, especially mating and chick-rearing seasons. The plumage of the Gyrfalcon varies with its location, varying from all-white to dark brown.
Does the Merlin Eat Rabbits?
The Merlin, which was once called the Pigeon Hawk, can be seen throughout most of the North American continent, although it does avoid colder climates. The Merlin is one of the smallest members of the falcon family.
A Merlin’s diet consists of small to medium-sized birds, insects and small mammals such as bats and mice. Rabbits are not something the Merlin includes in its diet.
Does the Aplomado Falcon Eat Rabbits?
The Aplomado Falcon was once commonly seen in the southern regions of Texas. Since its disappearance which occurred a number of years ago, this endangered falcon has been reintroduced from Central America and Mexico. Currently, the Aplomado Falcon is a part of the southeastern Texas landscape and is expanding its territory.
The diet of the Aplomado Falcon typically consists of insects, small birds and quail. It’s unlikely that the Aplomado Falcon would chase down and eat a rabbit.
Does the Collared Forest Falcon Eat Rabbits?
A permanent native to South America, the Collared Forest Falcon commonly flies into Mexico and has also been seen in the deep south of the United States.
The diet of the Collared Forest Falcon includes birds, mammals, lizards, snakes and insects. Up to 46.2% of their diet is made up of mammals, including rabbits, weighing up to approximately seven pounds.
Does the Eurasian Hobby Eat Rabbits?
Although the Eurasian Hobby is a falcon common to Eurasia, it has been spotted within the boundaries of North America.
The Eurasian Hobby typically feeds on insects, small birds and bats; therefore, it’s unlikely to kill and eat a rabbit.
Does the Eurasian Kestrel Eat Rabbits?
Another native to Eurasia, the Eurasian Kestrel has been seen along the North American eastern coastlines.
Eurasian kestrels eat small birds, insects and small mammals such as mice and voles. Rabbit is not a part of the Eurasian Kestrel’s diet.
Do Falcons Eat Rabbits?
Some falcons do eat rabbits, especially some of the larger species such as Gyrfalcon and the Collared Forest Falcon. Many falcons are probably too small to take down a rabbit, including two of the smallest falcons – the Merlin and the American Kestrel.
Several falcon species on the above list aren’t native to the North American continent and have probably been artificially introduced by falconers who lost or released their birds; therefore, you’re not likely to need to worry about whether they pose a threat to your bun.
How to Protect Your Rabbit from Falcons
Pet rabbits kept outdoors actually face quite a few predators such as coyotes, foxes, weasels, raccoons, rats, snakes, eagles, hawks and falcons. Even cats and dogs will attack and kill a rabbit. With a list like this, it’s easy to see that you’ll want, and even need, to protect your bun if you allow them to be outside temporarily or permanently.
How Can You Protect your Rabbit from Predators?
If you want to protect your bun from falcons and other birds of prey, you need to block their access from the air. Birds of prey will swoop in from the air when attacking a rabbit. If the bird is strong enough, it will pick it up and fly off with it, and you may never know whether your bun escaped its enclosure or was carried off by a bird of prey such as a falcon. Either way, your bun is gone.
This, however, isn’t enough if you intend to allow your bun to be outside unsupervised. Just blocking an air attack with something like bird netting will prevent a falcon from attacking, it will not, however, stop other predators from attacking your furry friend.
The best and most effective way to protect your bunny from predators such as falcons is to keep them inside your home. Domesticated rabbits don’t need to go outside. They can be litter box trained and are quite content, and safe, indoors as long as they have plenty of food and water, as well as a few toys and space to play.
If you want to allow your rabbit outside unsupervised, you’ll want to keep them in a covered run. The run should be composed of or contain:
- Wire sturdy enough to prevent attacking animals and birds from breaking through
- Covered over the top to prevent attacks from above
- A protected underside (wire, wood, stone, etc.) to prevent animals from digging into the enclosure
- Shelter from wind, rain and animals reaching into the enclosure
- Food and fresh water
You can find lots of plans for rabbit enclosures online. Chicken tractors also work well in protecting rabbits from predators, especially falcons, because they are built to protect chickens from the same predators.