What eats a rabbit? And what are the predators you need to look out for around your bunny?
Rabbits are, of course, prey animals. They are herbivores and so you are not going to catch them hunting down much more than a tasty piece of banana! So you need to be careful to protect your rabbit from the following animals that eat rabbits.
What Eats A Bunny?
Each part of the world is going to be slightly different when it comes to what eats a rabbit. For example, there are no foxes in New Zealand, but in the UK, they are one of the primary predators of rabbits. Make sure you’re clued up on the predators specific to your corner of the world!
Wherever you are in the world, domesticated dogs are likely the main culprit when it comes to what eats rabbits. There are breeds of dogs that have been specially bred in order to chase and kill rabbits. If you have one of these breeds of dog, it would be unwise to get a rabbit as well. These include:
Jack Russel Terriers (pictured above)
There are other breeds of dog that are reasonably compatible with rabbits, though you should never leave a rabbit and a dog alone unsupervised. Dogs can be pretty cheeky at times and might just take that opportunity to get the rabbit. The breeds of dog that might be good with a rabbit include:
It can really depend on the nature and upbringing of each individual dog, so don’t take any risks. It would always be best for a dog to be introduced to rabbits when they are a young puppy, rather than later on.
You also need to make sure your rabbit is secured in your section from any neighborhood dogs that might break in and try to get a quick meal. If you’re ever in doubt, don’t leave your rabbit free ranging in the backyard, and make sure your rabbit’s hutch is predator proof.
Cats are another animal that might seek to do a rabbit some harm. Rabbits are able to defend themselves to some extent – they have strong back legs that they will kick with – but they will often come off second best in a cat fight.
Young rabbits need to be especially cared for around large cats. They are very mouse-like when they are first born and in that first year, which can be very tempting for a cat. We have Mini-Rex rabbits that are free range in our backyard. I’ll never forget the night I heard something outside and went to check on the rabbits. I found a white kitten up the top of my rabbit’s hutch with my rabbit. My poor bunny didn’t know what to do!
We’ve recently moved to a new area, and all the neighborhood cats seem to be stopping by and watching our rabbits. Thankfully, our rabbits are reasonably sized and the cats seem content to sit on the fence and watch from a short distance.
Foxes love nothing more than a tasty rabbit for a meal. In a sense, nature has provided rabbits as the perfect meal for such animals. If you live in an area inhabited by foxes, you will need to ensure you have a fox proof rabbit hutch.
A fox proof hutch with have a heavy wire mesh and be made with strong, durable wood. Many hutches sold online are made with basic mesh and various softwoods, so if you are buying a hutch, double check it will provide protection for your rabbit from foxes. Building your own hutch might be a good idea in this situation.
Birds Of Prey
Birds of prey aren’t much of a problem in cities and large towns, but if you are in a more rural location you will need to think about them. Animals such as hawks and eagles are always on the lookout for rabbits to snatch, and they can be quite effective at it too!
If your rabbit is free range, ensure there is plenty of cover in your yard, and that it has a lot of different hiding places. If bird attack is a serious enough risk, you may need to keep your rabbit in a covered run permanently.
Big cats are another enemy of the humble pet rabbit. This includes: bobcats, leopards, or cougars. If you are in an area with these animals you will need to put the proper protections in place for your bunny.
Cougars can be found right across the Americas – you can see the distribution in the image on the right – but they are certainly more active in some areas than others. I know Californians are acquainted with cougars targeting their chickens and other small animals.
Ferrets also pose a threat to pet rabbits. It is unlikely that they will kill a fully grown rabbit, but they can certainly rough them up a bit and cause them a lot of stress. If you have both ferrets and rabbits, it is not a good idea to bring them together. Ferrets and stoats do target rabbits, especially baby rabbits, in the wild.
Finally, last on the list is children. While they are unlikely to eat a rabbit (I have yet to catch my kiddies trying to take a bite out of one of the bunnies), they are a predator in another sense. They do not understand how much they can hurt a rabbit by trying to pick it up and dropping it. Sometimes younger kids just want to hit or throw something at a rabbit for fun.
Keep an eye on your children around your rabbits until they have learned to be gentle and loving to them.
What Eats A Rabbit?
If you take the right precautions, nothing is going to eat your bunny. As long as you have a safe and secure hutch and rabbit run, and as long as you keep an eye on your bunny, it should be safe. Don’t be overly paranoid if you don’t need to be, just take care of the basics and your rabbit will live a long full life.
Please feel free to leave a comment below sharing your experiences with rabbit predators.