Are Foxes Predators of Rabbits?
Although foxes will eat fruits and vegetables, they are also carnivores and seek out small animals. Foxes are predatory animals that often hunt small prey like squirrels, moles, or rats. Rabbits are certainly a favorite prey of foxes and can be attacked. In the wild, foxes will routinely attack and eat rabbits.
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If you keep rabbits outside, it is important to house your rabbit in a tightly secured habitat to protect them from predators. You’ll want to keep your rabbits in a secure, solid wood enclosure with a sturdy chain link surround and solid bolts and latches to keep your beloved pets secured from foxes.
How Can I Keep My Rabbits Safe Outdoors?
Keeping a rabbit outdoors is the perfect way to give your rabbit even more room to roam and exercise. Outdoor habitats are generally more extensive, better constructed, and can allow you to house multiple rabbits together. When keeping your rabbits outdoors, you need to put their safety as the priority. A well-designed and built habitat must consider the following potential outdoor dangers:
- Escape – Rabbits can be quite the escape artists and enjoy digging and burrowing. An outdoor habitat that simply rests on the grass is easy to dig underneath. Be sure to keep your rabbit’s habitat surrounded with mesh down through the soil to prevent escape.
- Predators – Many wild predators naturally feed on rabbits. Keeping your rabbits in a secure, predator-proof habitat can prevent attacks from foxes, hawks, dogs, cats, and even raccoons.
- Weather – Rabbits could become too hot, cold, or wet with variable weather conditions. Be sure that their habitat has plenty of ventilation and access to natural sunlight while keeping the rabbits warm and dry.
- Vegetation – Although some natural vegetation is perfectly safe for your rabbit, other vegetation may be potentially poisonous. Always be careful and observant of the surrounding vegetation your rabbit may have access to through its habitat.
What Type of Hutch Is Safe?
Most commercially available hutches at the pet store will not be safe enough to keep your rabbit protected outdoors. These cages are made with cheap materials which don’t keep your rabbit warm, dry, or safe. Unfortunately, rabbit hutches that are designed for outdoor use rarely have the right protection from foxes, so the best option is to craft your own outdoor rabbit hutch safe from foxes and other potential predators.
The best outdoor rabbit hutch to keep your rabbit safe from attack will include:
- Solid Wood – To keep your hutch in good shape for years to come and to make a secure enclosure, you’ll want to use real, solid wood. Pine is an excellent choice because it is lightweight and safe for rabbits. Make the roof, floors, and side from solid wood construction.
- Bolts – Add extremely durable and sturdy bolts to the gate. A latch will not be enough to keep the crafty rabbit inside. When designing the gate, assume if a small child can figure the locking mechanism out, so can a rabbit.
- Chain Link – Portions of the hutch will need to have see-through holes. This style helps give the rabbits some natural sunlight, plenty of ventilation, and allows you to view your pets. You’ll want to use extremely heavy-duty wire mesh or chain link construction. Standard chicken-wire mesh isn’t strong enough to keep your rabbits protected from predators.
The minimum size for an outdoor hutch should be at least 6 feet long, by 2 feet by 2 feet. The hutch should be raised off the ground to prevent flooding and cold weather from seeping into the enclosure. Not only does the hutch itself need to be constructed with the above requirements in mind, but the exercise run should also have the same predator protection and precautions.
How Do I Know If Foxes Live In My Area?
Foxes can be elusive, and it can be challenging to determine if a fox is in your area, posing a threat to your rabbits. There are some tell-tale signs that you may have a fox in your area, though. You may see the following in your yard, which could indicate you have a fox living nearby.
- Holes – Dug-up flower beds or gardens could indicate a fox in the area. These little animals will look for worms or buried animals to grab a quick snack. Plus, sometimes they’ll bury food they’ve caught to hide it for later. Fox holes look similar to mole holes, but they are not as perfectly round.
- Dens – Foxes will need a place to feel safe, so they’ll often make a den to sleep and live inside. The den is usually made underneath wooden buildings, like your house or shed. Dens usually appear around April or May. You may see activity around a potential den or hear animal noises nearby.
- Remains – One of the best indicators of a fox in your yard is the presence of a fox’s past feasts. You may find prey remains in your garden. You may see bird feathers, mole remains, or tufts of fur. Sometimes, you may notice a tiny skeleton of a rodent.
- Prints – Fox paw prints are a sure sign a fox is living in your yard. Prints are easily seen in the snow or mud. The paw prints will look similar to a dog, however, a fox’s prints will track in a straighter line. The paw prints will also be closer together since the fox is usually much narrower than a dog.
If you notice the above signs, you should take extra precautions to protect your outdoor rabbits. Sometimes, simply housing rabbits outside can attract these animals, thinking they’ll have a quick and easy meal. Secure latches, wooden construction, and sturdy chain link is the best way to keep your rabbits protected.
What Attracts Foxes To Your Yard?
Although foxes are wild animals, they are attracted to backyards because of the availability of food and water. Usually, a fox will be attracted to a yard because:
- Food – You may keep cat or dog food outside, which is tempting to a fox. Bird feeders, ponds stocked with fish, or garbage bins can also bring predatory foxes into your yard.
- Water – Even having access to a pond or stream may be enough to bring foxes into your yard. Fresh running water is not only refreshing, but it can attract other small animals, which could turn into prey for a fox.
- Fruit Trees – Foxes are attracted to the fallen fruit from fruit trees. Further, smaller animals feasting on fallen fruit could be a quick snack for a fox.
- Vegetables – Owning a vegetable garden could be an open invitation to a fox. Not only do foxes like the food in vegetable gardens, but sometimes they are attracted to fertilizers used in the garden.
What Should I Do If My Rabbit is Attacked?
Even with the best preparation and housing, accidents can still happen. If you notice a fox has attacked your rabbit, you may still be able to save your rabbit. Immediate action is needed, and even delaying 24 hours can prove fatal for these small pets. You’ll want to seek immediate medical attention from a veterinary professional. Foxes can carry disease, and wounds can become infected quickly if not treated immediately. Always call your veterinarian directly if an attack has occurred.
Keeping your pet rabbits outside is a great way to give them more space and room to romp and roam. It is essential to keep your rabbits protected outside, so they do not become easy prey for wild animals. Predatory animals, like foxes, can quickly make a meal out of a rabbit if you are not careful. Always ensure you keep your rabbit housed in a solid wood habitat, with plenty of chain-link and sturdy latches to keep your animals safe.