The countless number of rabbits in the wild make them easy prey for predators, but domestic pet rabbits are also not safe from being preyed upon. The list of what animals eat rabbits is long, so depending on where you live, how protected your rabbit is, and how much time she spends outside, be forewarned that she could be prey for any of the beasts below.
Table of contents
- Birds of Prey
- Big cats
- Which Animals Eat Rabbits?
- How to Protect Your Pet Rabbit
- Which Predators Are the Most Likely to Attack a Pet Rabbit?
- Keys to a Safe Outdoor Rabbit Habitat
- Other Measures to Keep Pet Rabbits Safe
- Final Thoughts
What animals eat rabbits? The most common rabbit predator is the fox and, in short, foxes love rabbit meat. Though they are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants. If available, foxes will eat rabbits as a primary food source. Foxes live in forested and grassy areas but can find their way into a residential neighborhood if it is close to one of these regions – especially if there are rabbits housed in cages in backyards. Foxes are also nocturnal and have excellent eyesight. Keep in mind, too, that foxes are ingenious at opening the cages of pet rabbits.
Wolves present a major threat to rabbits as they mostly enjoy eating them for pleasure. Wolves are carnivores, and they prefer larger prey such as deer, elk, bison, and moose. Although they don’t eat rabbits as their primary food source, they will do so when there is a major food shortage among the animals of their usual fare. Since rabbits multiply so quickly, there is always an ample supply of these small creatures for predators.
The dingo is a dog-like creature that is native to Australia. They are also carnivores and travel in packs to hunt, seeking other mammals for food, including kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and rabbits. When wild food sources become scarce, they will hunt domestic animals, which means your backyard rabbit could become their next meal.
The wolverine is a vicious carnivore and predator that hunts other small mammals, including rabbits and rodents. Resembling small bears in appearance, these animals are scavengers, and as such, they will eat the meat of dead animals. Wolverines live mostly in the western mountain regions of the United States.
The coyote population has exploded in the lower 48 to the extent that they are now prevalent and close to many suburban and urban areas. They look like medium-sized dogs and are often mistaken for German Shepherds. They are opportunistic hunters and seek small prey, including rabbits, for their diet. One study found that coyotes generally avoid domestic pets to supplement their diet, but that still doesn’t mean your outside rabbit will be safe from this predator.
The raccoon is another opportunistic omnivore who eats what is available, including plants, fruits, frogs, and rabbits. Raccoons have invaded urban areas and enjoy sifting through people’s garbage for whatever delicacies they can find. They are intelligent creatures who, with their human-like hands, can find their way into pet animal pens and cages without much difficulty. This, of course, includes rabbits who are caged outside at night, a raccoon’s prime hunting time.
All bears are omnivores, and they enjoy their fruits and flowers; however, there are 8 bear species, and their diets vary somewhat. The 8 bear species and their locations include:
- Brown bear (Grizzly bear): Alaska, Northwest Canada, Montana, Utah, Yellowstone National Park, Washington state
- American black bear: Mexico to Alaska, Canada, Rocky Mountains
- Asian black bear: Asia, Russia, Japan
- Sun bear: Southeast Asia
- Polar bear: Northern Alaska, Canada, Greenland
- Andean bear: Andes Mountains from Venezuela to Bolivia
- Giant panda: Southwest China
- Sloth bear: India, Sri Lanka, southern Nepal
The American black bear, the most common bear in North America, prefers a diet consisting of berries and larvae, but because of their comparatively large size, they can’t get enough of these foods to fill them. They supplement with insects, grass, roots, and prey animals, including rabbits.
The Grizzly Bear is also found in many areas of North America, and it is much more vicious than the Brown Bear. The Grizzly is known for attacking and killing humans, but when hungry, they will attack and eat anything in their path.
Birds of Prey
Birds of prey are also known as raptors and include the following:
They are ferocious hunters and have keen eyesight that enables them to spot their prey while flying up high. When they spot their prey, they swoop down and grab it with long, lethal claws, called talons. They can catch fish from the water, attack other birds in the air, and snatch a small rodent or rabbit from the ground. Raptors are not picky and will grab a pet rabbit who might have the unfortunate of being hopping around in his yard unobserved by his owner.
Owls are particularly gruesome hunters of rabbits. They are nocturnal, and their hunting style is quiet and careful. They will scope out their prey and swoop in quietly for the attack. Because they can’t physically carry an entire rabbit, they typically tear off just the rabbit’s head.
There are 4000 varieties of snakes, and the diet preference for each is different; however, they are all carnivores. Snakes are unbelievably good hunters and once they have captured their prey, they can swallow it whole. Most average-sized snakes prefer smaller prey, including rabbits.
Your very tame and docile pet dog may have a hidden and strong prey drive which urges him to go after any small rodent or bird unlucky enough to end up in your yard. Beware, too, of neighborhood dogs, or those that are feral and roam the area. Some dogs are just in it for the kill, while others also want to devour their prize.
The big cat species includes the lion, tiger, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, as well as these wild cats – cheetahs, cougars (also called pumas and mountain lions), clouded leopards, bobcats (usually considered a medium sized cat) and Sunda clouded leopards. Intimidating and dangerous, big cats are purely carnivores and, depending on the species, need up to 15 pounds of raw meat every day. This means they are superb hunters, hunt alone, and will eat any animal they can find.
If left to their own devices, most cats would find great pleasure in either hunting for their food or scavenging from human garbage. As hunters, they prefer birds and small rodents, including rabbits, but they prefer eating whatever is easier to find.
Lizards come in all shapes and sizes, and so does what they eat. The larger species, which includes Iguana, Komodo, and others, prefer eating anything from rabbit to deer, whereas the medium-sized Monitor lizard enjoys eating rabbit.
Despite their foray into domestic bliss, ferrets are carnivores, nocturnal, and have excellent eyesight, which makes them a rabbit’s worst nightmare. In fact, the rabbit is their main and preferred source of food. They do eat other mammals as well, and their high metabolism enables them to eat every part of their prey, bones and all.
Don’t let their small size fool you. Weasels are strong creatures that travel in packs, which positions them to readily attack and kill prey by crushing its neck area. Rabbit is one of their favored meals.
These animals are also carnivores, and badgers thrive on small prey, including rabbits, for their food. They are talented diggers and mostly scout out their prey this way.
The stoat is related to the weasel and is an avid hunter. Despite its smallish size, it travels in packs to hunt, and while one member of the pack distracts the prey, the others converge upon and kill it. Rabbits are one of the stoat’s preferred meal choices.
Of all the rabbits’ predators, the human one is the most menacing of them all. Humans kill rabbits for sport, food, and fur. Although it is not a popular meat choice in many parts of the United States, it is valued as a meat choice in other parts of the world.
Which Animals Eat Rabbits?
Besides the animals that have already been mentioned, here are some other common animals, Follow the links to find out which of these consider rabbit to be a good meal.
How to Protect Your Pet Rabbit
Most of the predators discussed here hunt rabbits in the wild, but some are ingenious to find their way into outdoor cages or to grab pet rabbits hopping freely in your yard. Now that you know what animals eat rabbits, you can learn how to keep your pet rabbit safe from any untoward predators.
Which Predators Are the Most Likely to Attack a Pet Rabbit?
Any of the predators mentioned above are candidates, but the most likely include dogs, cats, foxes, racoons, and some raptors. Dogs are powerful and can ram their way into a rabbit hutch. Cats are stealthy and have excellent night vision. Foxes hide under things like rabbit cages, waiting for an opportunity to ponce. Raccoons are night functioning experts, as well as extremely intelligent. Using their human-like hands, they can unlatch a rabbit hutch easily. Raptors can swoop down and grab an unsuspecting rabbit enjoying a romp in your backyard. When a rabbit senses there are enemies about, he can become so terrified that he can die of a heart attack. Overall, there is a theme here, and it is protection and supervision.
Keys to a Safe Outdoor Rabbit Habitat
Cages for rabbits that live outside must be especially strong and prey-proof to make sure bunnies stay safe. Besides having enough room for the rabbit to hop around comfortably, an absolute necessity is a strong, sturdy rabbit hutch. This part of the cage is his “safe place” where he can hide from anything threatening and get away to relax. It is also a haven from bad weather.
The hutch needs to have 2 sets of locks on however many doors it has to safeguard the rabbit from intelligent creatures like raccoons from breaking in. A good routine is to lock the rabbit in the hutch every evening and unlock it during the morning daylight.
Avoid wire cages, as it is easy for a predator to knock them down to get to your bunny. Also, do avoid installing a wire floor in the hutch as it is possible that predators can reach up and grab the rabbit from below.
Think about attaching the cage to a building, so there is the added overall stability. Also make sure to construct the cage so it is off the ground for added safety.
If you live in a cold climate, winter is a time when food is scarcer for predators, thus making your outdoor rabbit more appealing fare for dinner. Take the time to insulate the outdoor enclosure, or better yet, bring your rabbit inside at night during the cold season.
Other Measures to Keep Pet Rabbits Safe
No matter how secure the rabbit cage and hutch, there’s no such thing as a sure and safe thing when it comes to your rabbit. Also, keep in mind that as more forests and fields become developed, the homes of predator animals are
Following are some things you can do to keep predators from getting your precious pet.
- Clean any animal waste, rabbit and otherwise, from your yard every day.
- Eliminate any bushes or brush that predators can hide in.
- Consider fencing in the yard where the rabbit enclosure is located.
- Think about any possible human predators that could abscond with your rabbit.
- Bring your rabbit in your home or put him in a tightly secured outbuilding during the night.
- Never leave your rabbit unsupervised if he is romping around outside the enclosure during the day. It only takes a second for a raptor to swoop down and grab him.
Even though a hutch offers some protection, a rabbit can only be truly protected when he is inside four, sturdy walls.
Do the research to find out what predators live in your area and be sure your outdoor bunny lives in a sturdy, strong enclosure that will protect him. Take the time to go out and see him at least twice a day: make sure he is safe, looks healthy, is eating, has a good overall appearance, and a contented attitude. Examine the enclosure closely to ensure no hidden spots have developed where a predator can gain entrance.