Rabbits are furry, robust creatures who live in underground tunnels called warrens. These tunnels serve as their homes and protect them from predators on the surface. There are many species of rabbits, some of whom are domestic while others fend for themselves in the wild. Eventually, some of these animals serve as lunch or dinner to many animals. What predators eat rabbits?
What Eats Rabbits?
Wolves, coyotes, birds, stoats, dogs, and ferrets are some of the animals that eat rabbits. Most rabbits are quick on their feet, and may sometimes outrun a predator. However, rabbits are prey animals, so there’s quite a long list of creatures waiting to eat them.
Here is a list of what eats rabbits, whether domestic or wild.
Rabbit Predator: Wolves
Wolves are carnivorous; they rely on a meat-based diet. Ideally, wolves hunt for bigger animals like deers, elks, or bison. These mammals are massive, and it usually takes a pack of wolves to bring them down. However, wolves also eat rabbits, mice, and birds. Such killings do not feed an entire pack, but a single wolf can have a good meal.
Even though rabbits are quick on their feet, they often fall prey to wolves in the wild. Rabbits are only safe from wolves when they remain in their burrows or race back in before they get caught. In addition, wolves can eat baby rabbits if the nest is not well covered.
Rabbit Predator: Coyotes
Coyotes are not picky eaters. They eat fruits, vegetables, eggs, and hunt animals like rodents, mice, squirrels, lizards, and rabbits. Sometimes, they go after larger animals like deer and elks. They can be found in forests across North America. These predators hunt rabbits in the wild as well as domesticated rabbits. In fact, desperate coyotes have been known to break into rabbit cages to feed on them. They can eat both baby rabbits and adult rabbits. They also scavenge for carrion meat and leftovers.
Rabbit Predator: Bears
Bears are opportunistic predators. Although their diet mainly contains fruits and seeds, bears eat rabbits. They also eat any injured or dead animals they come across while foraging. Bears rarely go hunting for larger animals. But, if they find a dead bison or elk, they will feed on it. On the other hand, rabbits, rodents, and fish are easy prey. So, bears hunt and eat them from time to time.
Rabbit Predator: Birds
To a large extent, domestic rabbits are safe from birds of prey. As long as they are well hidden, birds cannot reach them. This is not the case for wild rabbits. They get eaten and attacked by birds while foraging on the surface. In addition, predators like hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls are often looking for small mammals like rabbits and squirrels.
Rabbit Predator: Stoats
Stoats are intelligent rabbit hunters. They hunt in groups using their large numbers as a distraction for rabbits. Usually, one stoat will distract a rabbit, leading it into an ambush. The other stoats will then pounce on the victim and feast on it. Stoats are also quite energetic. They give a good chase to mice and voles, chasing them all the way into their homes in the ground. From time to time, stoats also climb trees to raid birds’ nets for eggs and young birds.
Rabbit Predator: Dogs
Dogs are domesticated wolf descendants. Over time, the aggression and love for hunting raw game have become subdued in most species. However, dogs still have their predatory instinct. It is not uncommon to see dogs chasing after rabbits or other small animals. Wild dogs frequently hunt down rabbits for food. Domestic dogs can also chase down rabbits for game or food, depending on their upbringing or species. Dogs like Basset Hounds, Fox Terriers, and Jack Russel Terriers are explicitly bred to prey on small mammals like rabbits.
Rabbit Predator: Ferrets
Ferrets are small carnivores that prey on other small animals, including possums and rabbits. This is because their bodies can digest all the animal bits they consume, including the bones. They also have good night vision which helps them locate rabbits who are out looking for food. Since both rabbits and ferrets roam about in the nighttime, ferrets’ diets consist of lots of rabbit meat.
Rabbit Predator: Badgers
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 while rabbits are light on their feet. However, badgers sometimes trap rabbits in their warrens, leaving the rabbits with no way of escape.
Rabbit Predator: Foxes
Foxes are active hunters. Depending on the season and availability, they can eat anything from birds and frogs to crabs, eggs, and carrion. Foxes often attempt to enter rabbit enclosures whenever they can.
Unlike wild rabbits who have a chance to flee from predators, domestic rabbits are sitting ducks (or sitting bunnies). When hunting rabbits in the wild, foxes stalk them quietly and pounce before they get away. They are also known to hang around rabbit dens waiting to corner rabbits when they head out.
Rabbit Predator: Dingo
Like dogs, dingoes are wolf descendants, but they are wilder and untamed. They are known to attack animals that weigh several times their weight when hunting in packs. Neither big nor small animals are safe from dingoes. They mostly live in grasslands and areas where rabbits also live. This proximity places rabbits high on the food chain for dingoes.
Rabbit Predator: Snakes
Snakes are ultimate predators. Small snakes can take down small rabbits, while bigger snakes like boas can swallow adult rabbits whole. This is because snakes don’t chew their food; instead, they constrict their prey with their muscles and eat their dead flesh. Some snakes even consume their prey while it is still alive! Domestic rabbits are also vulnerable to small snakes who can sneak into their enclosures to eat young rabbits.
A List of Animals That Eat Rabbits
Do you have pet rabbits who have been disappearing or turning up dead? Here are some rabbit-eating animals to watch out for.
Bonus: Has a Rabbit Ever Attacked a Human?
There are plenty of animals that can’t wait to sink their teeth into rabbits, and humans are not exempt! While we didn’t include ourselves on the list, humans do hunt, kill, and eat rabbits. Given that we can be considered “enemies” by wild rabbits, it begs the question, “Do rabbits ever attack humans?”
There are two case scenarios, one being, wild rabbits. It’s pretty rare for a wild rabbit to attack a human because its first response to a threat would be to run and hide. A wild rabbit would only attack if it feels cornered or the need to protect itself or its young.
The second scenario is a pet rabbit. Some pet rabbits show their fear by attacking humans. That fear is usually sparked by feeling cornered. If a rabbit attacks and the human retreats, the rabbit will learn that its attack is effective and possibly do it repeatedly as a defense. The attack can involve scratching or biting. If your pet rabbit is attacking you, it’s important to try and figure out if your rabbit is doing it out of fear, and then work with the rabbit to hopefully alleviate that fear.
Some methods to alleviate a pet rabbit’s fear of you would include sitting by your rabbit’s cage, gently petting it, giving it treats, and lastly, not retreating if your rabbit does happen to act aggressively towards you.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © moosehenderson/Shutterstock.com
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