Rabbits are the target of many animals in the wild.
And although your bunnies are with you at home…
There are still possibilities that a predator might come for your beloved fur baby.
So what animals should you keep an eye out for?
And how can you protect your bunnies from them?
Read on to learn:
- 21 predators that prey on rabbits.
- 11 tips on how to keep your bunny safe outside.
- List of animals that would kill a rabbit but not eat it.
- What rabbits do to protect themselves from predators.
- And many more…
21 rabbit predators
#1: Stoats (or short-tailed weasel)
Believe it or not, these 12 in (31 cm) long weasel-like creatures can kill and eat a rabbit.
Yup! They’re small carnivores, but they mainly target preys bigger than them. Say, bunnies and pikas.
To lure them, stoats do their ‘weasel war dance.’
Then they paralyze preys with a bite at the back of their necks.
See this clip that shows how stoats capture rabbits:
Interesting fact: Stoats were said to be introduced to New Zealand in 1879. Their job was to reduce the number of rabbits in the area. This is because bunnies ruin many pastures at that time.
Like stoats, weasels also belong to the ‘Mustelid family.’
These two animals almost look identical to each other.
They’re both bold predators for their size. And they also feed on rabbits.
But Britannica says that weasels also eat rats, birds, and frogs.
Ferrets are also a member of the Mustelid family.
They’re bigger than weasels. And they’re excellent at hunting rabbits too.
Ferrets can eat a whole rabbit. And when I say whole, I mean from their flesh down to their bones.
#4: Birds of prey
These are ‘raptors’ or types of birds that attack and eat other animals. Such as owls, falcons, hawks, and eagles.
Birds of prey rest on trees, looking for their victims. Then when a rabbit appears, they’ll swoop down and catch them.
Although rabbits run fast, these raptors are quicker and agile.
Red-tailed hawks can dive at a speed of 150 mi (241 km) an hour.
While a peregrine falcon earned the title of the fastest diving bird in 2005.
They have a Guinness World Record of above 236 mi (380 km).
But aside from speed, they have razor-sharp beaks and talons too. And these help them capture and rip up prey.
“Aren’t they birds of prey too?”
Nope. Crows are birds and they also prey on small animals like rabbits.
But, they don’t belong to those fast swooping raptors.
Unlike birds of prey, crows are omnivores.
Meaning, they can eat anything. Plus, they also scavenge for food.
So besides meat, they also consume grains and insects. As well as road kills and carcasses.
This is why rabbits aren’t their main choice of food.
But when given an opportunity…
A group of crows (a.k.a. murder) can also chase alive bunnies. Like what you’ll see in this tragic article.
Interesting fact: Researchers found that crows in the city have higher cholesterol levels than the ones in rural areas. This made them think if it’s due to the fatty human food they pick up from the trash or not.
So what did they do?
They made 140 crows eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers a day. And they loved it.
But after the test, the cholesterol didn’t have any effect on their health.
Oh, it must be nice to be a crow!
Foxes are also omnivores.
But their main sources of food are small animals. So these include birds and rabbits.
They’re also swift and excellent hunters.
But did you know that their attack’s success rates are based on the earth’s magnetic field?
A study found that when a fox jumps northeast, their killing rate is 73%.
But when they pounce in the opposite direction, the success drops to 60%. And it’s only 18% in other positions.
This is another animal that rabbits don’t wish to see.
Wolves are carnivores. And they usually prey on bigger animals such as moose and bison.
But, they can also eat rabbits and beavers.
Coyotes can also eat anything and aren’t picky with their food.
They normally scavenge for it.
But you’ll see them hunting small mammals like rabbits and mice too.
Feral rabbits in Australia cause a lot of damage to the environment.
They graze for food and eat even the seedlings of plants. And this causes the extinction of native species.
This is why the authorities are doing rabbit control.
Wild dogs native to the area, a.k.a. dingoes are one of their biggest predators there.
And experts found that places dense with dingoes have fewer rabbits.
Speaking of canines, a man’s best friend is also capable of killing and eating a bunny.
Although this will depend on their breed.
Say Dachshunds for example.
These tiny sausages were bred to chase rabbits. So their prey drive is quite higher than the others.
“Oh no! Can you keep a dog and a rabbit together?”
Yes. But this will depend on the dog’s prey drive. As well as how they were introduced to each other.
Usually, those with gentle temperament bonds well with rabbits, like:
- Maltese dogs.
- Japanese Chins.
However, there are no guarantees. Since some breeds may still chase and attack a rabbit.
Snakes are carnivores so they can eat any meat in front of them.
But VCA Hospitals say that not all snakes consume bunnies for meals.
Some types prefer warm-blooded animals like rabbits and rodents. While others choose to eat:
Based on experts, a badger’s diet is composed of 80% earthworms.
But they’re omnivores too. So they also eat fruits, insects, and even the flesh of small mammals.
Badgers also have an amazing sense of smell and they dig searching for food.
So they may also find nests of rabbits by chance.
Bears are called ‘apex predators.’
“What does it mean?”
It means they’re on the apex or top of the food chain. So they prey on many animals including rabbits.
But judging from their gigantic size, you may not believe that their diet mainly consists of:
This is an example diet of an American Black Bear based on National Geographic.
However, they may also feed on mammals and carrion (or dead animals).
#14: Large lizards
We’re talking about big ones here like monitor lizards. As well as Komodo dragons who can attack and swallow a whole rabbit.
Most monitor lizards are carnivores. So they may also hunt small animals.
On the other hand, Komodo dragons are on a full meat diet.
Experts even share that they can consume 80% of their body weight in one sitting. And they also tend to ambush live prey.
Also, Komodo dragons are apex predators too. And this makes them a highly dangerous enemy for bunnies.
#15: Crocodiles and alligators
These large reptiles eat various food in the wild. Say, birds, fishes, and frogs.
They mainly stay in the water. But they can also wander on the land.
And this could put terrestrial animals like rabbits at risk.
No, this isn’t the main character in X-Men.
Wolverines are real animals. And they look like a small version of a bear.
They have sharp, semi-retractable claws too. And they use these to climb, dig, and daunt other animals.
(But they aren’t as long as the ones in the comics and movies!)
Wolverines may eat plants sometimes. But they often choose meat as their meals.
So they catch other animals like rabbits and even moose.
#17: Big cats
Cats are born hunters.
They love stalking and chasing smaller animals. And bunnies are no exception in this.
All cats are labeled as ‘obligate carnivores.’
This means that meat is the key to their survival. So their diet is mainly composed of it.
So in the wild, rabbits are also wary of big cats, such as:
#18: House cats
Again, felines have a strong prey drive.
Although house cats live with humans, this instinct is still ingrained in them.
So they may chase, kill, and eat a rabbit too.
But they won’t be able to consume the whole thing.
“What happens if a cat eats a rabbit?”
This might be dangerous. Especially if they ate a wild rabbit with a disease or parasite.
However, it’s a different thing if they’re fed rabbit meat intentionally.
In fact, a study shows that kittens fed with it have better stools.
It’s not always the case, but possums may also attack a rabbit.
However, they usually eat grains, insects, and fruits. And they also scavenge on carcasses. As well as garbage.
Raccoons tend to eat easy meals. Like insects, eggs, nuts, and berries.
They’re also slower than rabbits. So they may not think of bunnies as their go-to meals.
But, when they encounter one, they might also attack and kill them.
Last but not least.
We, humans, are also one of the common predators of rabbits.
Rabbiting or rabbit hunting is an old sport. People chase bunnies in the wild with an aid of dogs or ferrets.
But humans may also hunt rabbits for their meat.
Note: In the US, hunters must have a special state license for it. And there are also certain hunting seasons.
This is the complete list of rabbit predators:
- Big cats.
- House cats.
- Birds of prey.
- Large lizards.
How do rabbits protect themselves from predators?
Rabbits protect themselves from predators by freezing and being silent. This allows them to blend and scan the area without being noticed. But as prey, they tend to flee and hide more. However, they can also fight as last resort. So they may use their strong rear legs. As well as their sharp claws.
How to protect rabbits from predators? 11 tips
#1: Dig-proof their cage’s flooring
Does your outdoor rabbits’ cage sit directly on the grass?
If so, locate them in an area with a solid concrete floor. Or make the floor wooden.
All 5 sides of a rabbit’s cage might look secured.
But we often forget the other one which is the base or bottom part.
Predators like foxes and dogs can dig the ground. And they could make a tunnel towards your bunnies’ cage.
So if the hutch’s flooring is only bare grass, they can easily sneak inside.
#2: Raise them up
Yes, rabbits can be scared of heights.
But it isn’t also advisable to put their cage directly on the ground.
So if possible, it’s best to raise it up instead.
It should be at least 3 1/2 ft (1.07 m) high off the ground.
This is to keep them out of dogs’ or foxes’ reach. But it’s still at a height convenient for most people.
Note: Purpose of raising a rabbit’s hutch:
- To allow the droppings to fall to the ground.
- To be safe from digging predators and critters.
- To keep them away from worms and parasites.
- To give comfortable access to rabbits when getting them in and out.
#3: Install sturdy locks
Next, check the latches of your rabbit’s cage.
We’re dealing with wise predators here.
So if they’re easily opened by a child or it pops by accident, chances are, other animals can also do it.
“What should I do?”
You can get durable barrel bolts at any hardware store near you.
Those are easy to install. But they’re more complicated than a simple latch.
#4: Upgrade the wiring
Some parts of the rabbit’s cage are made with wire.
And if it’s only done with a chicken wire mesh, it can be easily destroyed by raccoons or dogs.
For this, you may replace the whole thing or reinforce it with a welded wire. Preferably one with 14 gauge.
It’s stronger and thicker than a chicken wire mesh.
#5: Transform their cage into a wooden one
If your rabbit’s cage is mostly made of wire, they’re too visible to the predators.
And it can also be easily destroyed.
So if you can, reinforce all 5 sides (except the front part) with sturdy wood.
#6: Attach the cage to something stable
Hutches are usually made as stand-alone pieces.
So even if your rabbit’s cage is raised, a predator can also knock its legs or walls.
And if it’s done repeatedly, it may collapse in the end.
To prevent this, attach the cage to a built structure. Say, your house or a study shed.
#7: Provide roof for their enclosure
A rabbit’s predators can’t only be found on land.
There are also birds of prey that can easily snatch a bunny. And this may happen while they’re roaming in an open run.
To avoid this, provide roofs to all parts of their enclosure. Both their hutch and run.
#8: Put spikes on all perching spots
Birds like camping on high areas like walls.
It gives them a better view of the whole area so they can observe their prey.
So to prevent them from perching around your house…
You may consider putting roosting spikes.
Now, sharp ones can injure them and other animals. So choose one with blunt spikes instead as it’s humane to install.
#9: Never leave them play unattended
It’s still best to supervise your rabbits every time they play outside in the yard.
Even though their run is enclosed, the presence of a predator can shock or stress a rabbit.
And if you’re there with them, the chances of other animals coming close to your rabbits are less.
You might also like: 21 Quick & Effective Ways To Reduce Stress In Rabbits
#10: Keep them indoors
If possible, it’s also a good idea to bring your rabbits in. As long as you have enough space for them inside.
This way, you’ll be more at ease every night.
But rabbits are chewers so make sure to rabbit-proof your house first.
#11: Deter them from coming into your house
Lastly, most predators are scavengers too.
So to avoid attracting them into your yard, there are easy solutions.
“What are they?”
Always keep your place clean. There shouldn’t be any exposed bins with junk or scraps.
And install motion light sensors around your perimeter. This is to scare off foxes at night.
People also ask:
What would kill a rabbit but not eat it?
Animals that would kill a rabbit but not eat it are possums and raccoons. They usually scavenge and eat plants. But they can kill bunnies only if necessary.
Raccoons prefer eating easy meals. And chasing swift rabbits might be too tiring for them.
But, there’s still a slight chance that both of them might eat a bunny. Especially since it’s already dead.
Are rabbits predators or prey?
Rabbits are prey. They’re animals hunted and killed by others for food.
Plus, they’re herbivores too. Their tummies can’t digest meat. So they’re not a predator to any animal.