Polar bears are large and powerful predators who hunt big games that offer an enormous reward. A polar bear will not eat a rabbit unless it is desperate. The speedy and agile rabbit is too fast for a polar bear to catch, and the small weight and body mass won’t provide enough nutrition to satisfy a giant polar bear. While a polar bear is not a concerning predator, plenty of other arctic predators will feast on rabbits.
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What Do Polar Bears Eat?
To sustain their large body size and energy needs, polar bears usually prey on larger animals that provide plenty of fat, protein, and energy. The preferred meat for a polar bear is either the ringed or bearded seal. A single seal can weigh well over 100 pounds giving a hungry polar bear enough food to sustain it for a week or longer.
Recently, polar bears have been venturing further south to find new food sources. The once-feared predator has resorted to scavenging and digging through trash to find food. A starved and desperate polar bear may attack a rabbit if it sees the rabbit as an easy target. Desperate animals have been known to hunt outside their usual prey choices to avoid starvation. Always use caution if you suspect a polar bear is frequenting your area.
What Predators Eat Rabbits In the Arctic Circle?
Just because a rabbit probably doesn’t have to worry about a polar bear attack doesn’t mean that there are no other predators in the Arctic that would hunt and potentially kill a rabbit. If you plan on housing your rabbits outdoors in the North, you’ll need to worry about potential attacks from:
- Wolf – Although rabbit is not the preferred meal for a wolf, they may hunt pet rabbits if they are desperate or an easy target. A wolf would normally take down a big caribou or moose. However, a starving wolf will eat just about any meat it can find.
- Fox – Rabbit is the primary food source for the Arctic fox and other small rodents, birds, and even fish. Foxes are crafty and can break into some of the best-designed outdoor rabbit hutches.
- Gyrfalcon – Attacks from the air are common for rabbits. This predatory bird likes to eat rabbits and small birds. If a rabbit looks vulnerable and like an easy target, the gyrfalcon can quickly swoop down and capture the rabbit with its powerful talons.
- Owls – Another bird of prey, owls, are particularly good at catching rabbits. Owls are silent hunters with powerful talons and deadly accuracy. Protecting your rabbits from an aerial attack is always essential, but more so if you live north of the Arctic Circle.
Can Rabbits Live Outside in Cold Weather?
Rabbits can live in cold climates as long as they are given the right protection. Keeping your rabbits outside requires a protective hutch. Not only should the hutch be large enough to give rabbits plenty of room to romp and exercise, but the hutch should be well-insulated and dry.
Probably the most significant challenge with keeping rabbits outside in the cold weather is ensuring your rabbits stay out of the weather. If your rabbit is subject to moisture or wind, cold temperatures could feel much colder to your rabbit and potentially endanger its life. Always be sure outside pet rabbits have a secure and robust roof, flooring, and walls with sturdy, solid-wood construction. Rabbits need to have a covered enclosure while still getting plenty of access to air with proper ventilation.
How Can I Keep A Rabbit Warm?
Rabbits are incredibly durable and can live in a range of climates and weather conditions. If your area is prone to cold weather, be sure to take extra precautions to make sure your rabbit stays warm through the winter. To keep your rabbit warm, you can:
- Multiples – Keeping multiple rabbits helps rabbits stay warm because they will gather together and stay warm with their buddy’s body heat.
- Insulation – Ensure that the sleeping area is always insulated. When building your rabbits’ hutch, be sure to leave a gap in the plywood around the floor, roof, and walls so that you can add insulation in the winter.
- Bedding – To keep rabbits warm, try to line the bedding area with newspaper and additional bedding materials. Stay away from hay as a bedding material because it doesn’t retain heat the same way as Megazorb or Auboise bedding does.
- Water – You always want to make sure your rabbit has access to water that doesn’t freeze. Keeping a water dish instead of a water bottle tends to freeze less easily, allowing your rabbit to drink even in the coldest weather.
Rabbits may take some time to get acclimated to colder or warmer climates. If you recently adopted a pet rabbit that is used to indoor climates, never immediately put the rabbit outside, especially in the winter. Rabbits will need to experience the changing seasons to acclimate their body to colder winter temperatures. Likewise, it can be dangerous to bring an outdoor rabbit into the warm interior without properly acclimating the rabbit to warmer temperatures.
How Cold Can Rabbits Handle?
Rabbits can live in a range of temperatures and have a remarkable ability to adapt to freezing climates. A healthy rabbit can be comfortable in temperatures that drop to 40 degrees F. If necessary, rabbits can tolerate even colder temperatures for short periods. If you plan on keeping pet rabbits outdoors in colder weather, be sure to provide a suitable heat source and plenty of insulation, so your rabbit can warm itself to a comfortable temperature.
What Rabbits Do Best in Cold Weather?
If you live in a cold climate and want to keep your rabbits outdoors, you’ll want to be very careful about which breed of rabbit you choose to keep as a pet. Some rabbits have very thin fur and are smaller in size, so they have difficulty maintaining body heat. Stay away from the Netherland Dwarf, Polish, Dutch, or Tan rabbit breeds because they do not survive cold weather.
Instead, opt for larger, thick-furred rabbits. Try to keep breeds like the Giant Chinchilla, Mini Lop, or Flemish Giant. These breeds tend to keep their body heat longer and tolerate cold weather. Be mindful that these breeds can struggle in the heat, so be sure to take the proper precautions if your area experiences drastic temperature swings between seasons.
Although polar bears are large predators, they are unlikely to hunt and kill a rabbit. Polar bears are too large and slow to catch a fast and agile rabbit. Instead, polar bears usually prefer to feast on large seals that provide plenty of fat and protein. There are several other predators to be wary of when living in the Arctic Circle. Foxes, gyrfalcons, owls, and wolves have all been known to chase, hunt, and kill rabbits for food. Be sure to keep your cold-weather rabbits in a safe and insulated outdoor hutch or enclosure to keep your pets safe and healthy.