Whether you keep your rabbit outdoors all the time or only for playtime, you should have precautions in place to protect them from wild animals. As prey animals, rabbits are tempting snacks for owls and hawks, or even coyotes, foxes, and badgers.
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Knowing every threat that could put your rabbit’s health at risk can help them to live a longer, happier life and save you a panicked vet visit, so it would be beneficial to consider the dangers of common home-invading wildlife like possums.
In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about possums as potential threats to rabbits. You’ll learn about health and safety risks, how to keep them safe, and how to keep possums and other wildlife away.
Are Possums Dangerous to Rabbits?
In answer to the question, “Do possums eat rabbits?” the answer is no. At least, if they did, the rabbit would probably already have been dead.
Possums are the very definition of omnivores, enjoying a diet of fruit, grains, and insects; yet, they are also scavengers, often found eating out of garbage cans and pet food dishes. While possums can attack and eat small animals, they would most likely only do this if their other food sources were scarce, and they would attack small mammals like rats and mice.
An important consideration when it comes to possums is that they are generally not aggressive. The old legend about possums playing dead? That’s actually true. To avoid a confrontation, they will play dead in the middle of one. You know better than anyone that your rabbit would be far too likely to put up a fight, and possums don’t want to be a part of that.
However, just because possums are unlikely to attack your rabbit doesn’t mean they aren’t a threat to them.
How Can Possums Harm Your Rabbit?
Like any wild animal, possums are hosts to a number of diseases and other disease-carrying pests like fleas and mites.
Though possums very rarely have rabies or ticks, they may be carriers of tularemia, leptospirosis, and tuberculosis, among others. Rabbits can catch and transmit each of these diseases, which are also a threat to human health.
Carrying disease themselves is bad enough, but they have friends with them that are more mobile and potentially even more dangerous. Fleas are one of the little-known carriers and most common transmitters of the plague, today. Mites can cause skin rashes and scabies.
Not only are these disease-vectors a threat to your rabbit, but they are a threat to you and your household members, so while possums aren’t a direct threat in terms of an aggressive attack, they are still a noteworthy threat worth keeping out of your yard.
How to Keep Rabbits Safe From Possums
There are a few ways to keep your rabbit safe, both from possums and from other wild animals. With possums, it’s a lot easier than with other predators such as owls who have no difficulty getting over fences. Thankfully, preventing a possum from coming into your backyard isn’t very difficult at all.
How to Keep Possums Out Of Your Yard
As scavengers, possums find unprotected garbage bags and open bins a direct invitation. Food sources, hiding places, and water availability are going to be the main things that attract a possum to your house. To keep possums from finding your yard and home a delicatessen of insects, fruit, and garbage, try these possum prevention tips:
- Trim your yard often. Don’t let trees give your yard too much shade, as this is how ticks find a safe haven in your grass.
- Trim back tree branches that are hanging over the roof.
- Don’t leave yard furniture or other yard decorations out.
- Regularly remove rotting debris like leaves and woodpiles. Store firewood away from the home.
- Make sure any leaky faucets are fixed, landscaping that collects water is evened out, and gutters are regularly cleaned to prevent excess moisture.
- Fence off areas like under your deck with mesh wire.
- Pick up fallen fruit or berries from trees or gardens.
- Raise your garden bed and install a fence around it.
- Keep your fence well-maintained and don’t leave any tree limbs hanging over the top.
- Put cat and dog food into sealed containers inside the home at night.
- Only leave your garbage in sealed bins away from the home.
If possums have no reason to go onto your property and nowhere to stay if they do, you should be relatively safe from a wandering one finding their way into your yard to chat with your rabbits.
How to Keep Your Rabbit Safe From Wild Animals
As you’re well aware, possums aren’t the only threats your rabbits face when they spend time outdoors. Domestic rabbits aren’t well equipped to survive predators or spend extensive time surviving in the wild, so they’ll need your help to stay safe. All of the above steps to keep possums out are also a great way to keep other wildlife from your property, especially rats and mice. However, if your first line of defense fails, your second line of defense needs to be enough. To make your backyard a safe haven against predators, try these tips:
- Lock your rabbits into their hutches at night. If they can’t wander out into the line of sight of predators, they’ll be safe behind closed doors.
- Keep a good outdoor light on the yard at night.
- Secure outbuildings like sheds and garages, so wildlife can’t make a home inside them.
- Consider building a covered rabbit run, so rabbits can go outside if they choose but are still protected from attack.
Rabbits are pretty capable of defending themselves if it comes down to it, but coming into contact with a wild animal is where they become most at risk for disease. That’s why vaccinations are your third line of defense. When prevention and security fail, make sure they’re protected from disease.
Vaccinations Your Outdoor Rabbit Should Have
Getting your rabbit vaccinated won’t protect them from all of the diseases they could contract from wild animals, but for the two deadliest diseases to domestic rabbits, they could still come in handy to save their lives.
The two most important vaccinations for your rabbit are for Myxomatosis and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD). Myxomatosis can be transmitted through blood-sucking insects and is often fatal within two weeks. Neither disease is not common in the United States, though localized outbreaks have occurred for RVHD and Myxomatosis is more common on the Pacific coast. For residents of Britain, both diseases are common in wild rabbits, so domestic rabbits in that area should have those vaccinations no matter what.
For diseases that can’t be prevented with vaccinations, it’s important to keep a careful eye on your rabbit’s disposition and health. If you know for a fact they’ve been hurt by a wild animal, take them in for treatment. In addition, make sure your rabbits receive flea and tick treatment regularly.
What to Do if a Possum Comes Near Your Rabbit?
Possums don’t relish a fight, but it’s not wise to go near them either. Using rocks or sticks, throw them at the possum to either persuade it to leave or to make it play dead. When it is gone or incapacitated, take your rabbit to a safe place.
In many places, possums are protected animals, so killing them is not recommended. However, your local Wildlife Control will come to get the animal for free. Pest Control services also often perform wildlife removal, but do not try to trap and relocate the animal yourself. Not only could you be doing this illegally at great risk to the ecosystem, but you could be putting yourself in danger of disease or attack.