what animals eat rabbits

What Animals Eat Rabbits?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton

There are many species of rabbits, some are domestic while others fend for themselves in the wild.

Rabbits are furry, robust animals that are fast on their feet. They live in underground tunnels called warrens. These tunnels serve as their homes and protect them from predators on the surface. Yet, they often fall prey to predators.

This article will identify: what animals eat rabbits?

What Animals Are Rabbit Predators?

Because a rabbit’s primary defense is to run and hide as quickly as possible, it makes them vulnerable to large, more robust, and faster predators. What are examples of these predators?

Foxes

Foxes would love to eat nothing more than a tasty rabbit. Although foxes don’t need rabbits to survive, rabbits are among their major food sources and can make a significant and primary part of their meal. 

Dingoes

Dingoes are more like wild dogs that mainly thrive in grasslands, the woods, and rocky terrains-places. They eat rabbits as their primary food source, mostly because they can find them in abundance.

Wolves

Although wolves mainly concentrate on larger food sources, like deer, they occasionally catch rabbits to supplement their primary diet. It has been observed that when other food sources are scarce, rabbits become more of a guaranteed meal. Usually, wolves hunt in packs, but individuals will hunt rabbits alone.

Owls

Baby and small rabbits can become prey to nearly any owl, even the small screech owl, while the large barn owl can quickly overpower adult rabbits, barred owls, hawk owls, or great horned owls that happen to be hunting in their vicinity. Owls are nocturnal hunters who rely on their superb vision and keen sense of hearing to hunt. Many are sit-and-wait predators, meaning they will perch and wait for prey to come nearby before silently swooping down and grasping the unfortunate rabbit or other animals in their sharp talons.

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Hawks

Larger hawks often take down rabbits. Harriers are medium to large hawks, reaching lengths of up to 2 feet and wingspans over 4 feet. These hawks are unique among their relatives. 

Both red-shouldered and red-tailed hawks feast on rabbits. In addition, both look similar and closely related; many red-shouldered hawks have a red patch on each shoulder, while red-tailed hawks have red tails.

Eagles

Both the bald eagle and golden eagle are known to capture rabbits. Although bald eagles primarily feed on fish, which makes up 60 to 90 percent of their diet.

Cats

Cats are another animal that may harm or kill a rabbit. While rabbits can defend themselves to some extent (they have strong back legs that they will kick with), they will often be killed in a fight.

Young rabbits need to be specially cared for around large cats. This is because they are very mouse-like during their first year of life, which can be very tempting for a cat.

Big Cats

Big cats such as lions, leopards, bobcats, and cougars are mainly carnivorous and threaten any prey, including rabbits. However, these animals do not usually need rabbits for survival and may kill and eat bunnies after having enormous game meat.

Dogs

Domesticated dogs can attack and eat a rabbit at any time, depending on their nature and upbringing. Plus, there are some domestic dog breeds developed specifically to chase and kill animals like rabbits. They include Jack Russel Terriers, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Redbone Coonhounds, Fox Terriers, and Weimaraner.

Coyotes

Coyotes are not so picky with food because they are scavengers and hunters. They can also eat vegetables because they are omnivorous. However, a coyote’s favorite meal would be a tasty small mammal like a rabbit, rat, mote, or a vole.

Raccoons

Raccoons are omnivorous and can eat veggies and animals (such as rabbits) if they can catch them. However, bunnies don’t make the most of a raccoon’s diet because raccoons are slow and prefer slow-moving creatures.

Snakes

Snakes can eat pretty much anything that moves, depending on their sizes. Medium-sized snakes like cobra, mamba, and viper can eat smaller-sized rabbits, while large snakes like anacondas, pythons, and boas can quickly engulf larger rabbits.

Lizards

A lizard’s diet mainly depends on its size, and giant lizards like iguanas and komodo dragons eat animals of various sizes, from toads and rabbits to deer.

Some medium-sized lizards, such as the monitor lizard, eat animals like rabbits as their primary food source.

Badgers

Rabbits are prey, which puts them at risk of being eaten by many animals, including badgers. The average badger enjoys small insects and worms but can hunt down rabbits in its habitat. 

Badgers have short, powerful claws, which they use to dig into holes. Typically, rabbits may have a chance to escape from badgers if they encounter them in the open. This is because badgers are slow predators, and rabbits are light on their feet. However, badgers sometimes trap rabbits in their warrens.

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How to Protect your Rabbits from Predators

Keep Your Rabbits Indoors

The best way to keep your rabbits out of a predator’s reach is by keeping them indoors. The good thing is that domesticated rabbits can do just fine living in your house, as long as they have access to food, toys, and enough space to run, jump and play.

Predator-proof The Rabbit Hutch

It’s best to construct the shelter yourself and predator-proof it by strengthening the wires to prevent stronger predators from quickly destroying the cage.

Also, reinforce the locks. Some predators can be smart enough to discover that they can unlock these and gain access.

You can also place the shelter on an impenetrable or concrete floor to prevent the predators from digging and sneaking underneath. 

Make your Yard Predator-Unfriendly

Make your yard inhabitable for predators by keeping it clean, avoiding scrap foods, and removing standing water to deny predators access to food and water.

Better still, deter nocturnal creatures like ferrets and foxes by installing motion-sensing lights around the yard.

Supervise

Supervise your rabbits during their playtime or if you plan to free-range them. Predators like birds of prey and foxes are usually afraid of people and may not approach your rabbits if you are around. It would also be best to check on your rabbits in an outdoor enclosure now and then.

Conclusion

If you consider keeping rabbits, you’ll need to take some measures to protect them from predators. For example, you can avoid free-ranging and provide secure shelters such as hutches for your rabbits.

Ensure that the rabbit’s shelter is out of a predator’s reach because, unfortunately, rabbits can die from shock just by coming into contact with a predator.

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