Rabbit Predators (& How To Avoid Them)

Rabbits, though they may not look intimidating, have many predators because they actually don’t have a lot of defense mechanisms. Some rabbits are able to dig holes and hide underground, but there are many others who just sit up on their hind legs declaring their innocence and cuteness.

Mother Nature has compensated rabbits by making them breed quickly so they can make up for the fact that they don’t have any other natural defenses.

A Rabbit’s main predators include: Domesticated dogs, Foxes, Raccoons, Snakes, Hawks, Owls, The Red Fox and Badgers but in this post I am going to specify more predators and what you can do to keep your garden rabbit safe.

HumansHawks
Domestic DogsDomestic Cats
OwlsRats
Mountain lionsWeasels
SnakesCrows
BearsFerrets
LizardsKestrels
What common rabbit predators are there?

What does a rabbit get eaten by?

Unfortunately if you have a garden rabbit regardless of if it’s the day or night, they’re dinner to a LOT of predators. Whether it be your neighbors cat or a wild hawk/snake, having your rabbit housed outside requires a lot of attention and protection.

You need to prepare by having a very secure outdoor rabbit run and cage, if possible, one with a closed top. Unfortunately this doesn’t keep your rabbit safe from predators like snakes, rats, weasels and anything that is small enough to fit through your rabbits cage.

What could kill a rabbit but not eat it?

Unfortunately, it could be any of a rabbits predators. More commonly this will be any animal that likes to play with its food which leans towards domesticated pets and big animals like bears, fox, coyote and even badgers.

With nature being so cruel, it can unsettling to know that your rabbit may be hunted without the intention of even being eaten and just for fun, so you should invest in a very secure outdoor run and cage.

Humans

It’s sad to see, but we are one of the biggest predators for rabbits. Whilst we don’t push for vegetarianism/veganism, it’s something we have to mention given the amount of farms out there that keep rabbits in poor conditions and uneducated owners who get rabbits as a present only to give them to a shelter shortly after.

Part of the reason I write on this blog is to keep owners educated and hopefully not overwhelmed as rabbits can be extremely loving.

Hawks

Hawk - Rabbit predator
Photo by Delaney Van on Unsplash

Hawks commonly fly near the ground when they scan for their food, this means rabbits are the perfect pray for any breed of hawk as they are an easy target.

Whilst a hawk can eat a variety of species, rabbit is a common target due to how many of them are in the wild and the fact that every gender and sub-species of hawk can eat them.

Whilst hawks primarily feed on other smaller birds and mammals (Squirrels, mice, rats etc), rabbits are considerably bigger and easier to catch making them the perfect rabbit predator, especially the Cottontail rabbit which doesn’t hide in burrows or dig.

Dogs & Cats

Cat and Dog - Rabbit Predator

It happens all the time, at least it does if you are in Facebook groups, someones dog or cat gets out and happens to kill someones rabbit in the garden.

Whether its a domestic dog or a wild dog like Dingoes in Australia, both cats and dogs can kill rabbits for food and just to play with.

Dingoes are famously known to hunt in packs for larger animals, so a rabbit makes a quick snack for them.

Whether its a domestic animal or wild, keeping your rabbit safe should be a top priority.

Owls

Owls are an extremely common predator for plenty of smaller mammals, including domesticated rabbits and wild hares. Owls can vary in size which means their target changes based on their needs.

As Owls are nocturnal, they are incredibly good at seeing in the night as well which gives them a huge advantage when hunting. Whilst rabbits are more active at night due to being crepuscular, this does open specific breeds like cottontails to attack.

Owls are incredibly fast and will sit and wait for their dinner, this means the rabbit will be completely oblivious to their impending doom and more often than not will be caught before they realise whats happening.

Rabbits are unfortunately a main food source for many rabbit species, from barn owl, barred owl, and great horned owl.

Rats

Rats aren’t commonly seen as a rabbits predator, but this is due specifically to the fact they don’t hunt the adults.

Rats are opportunists and as such will often try and break into a rabbit cage to eat offspring.

Unfortunately, rabbits do attract rats. This is usually due to a lack of a daily cleaning routine, whether its just missing a day of litter being cleaned or a week.

A rabbits hutch is warm, has food and water and is very inviting despite having a homeowner already.

Weasels

Wolverines eat rabbits
Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

Weasels are quite a large carnivorous family which consists of badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks and even wolverines. If you live in the United States, Europe or Asia these pesky predators may be more common than you think.

The wolverine is the most likely of the weasel family (Mustelidae) to be rabbit predators and are often found in various habitats whether its a forest, green lands or tundra.

During the winter seasons, Wolverines & Weasels will often scavenge for food and have been known to dig into burrows of hibernating mammals.

Luckily, as rabbits don’t hibernate this does allow them a little more chance to hide should they need to.

Snakes

Snake - Rabbit Predator
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Snakes appear everywhere around the world, they’re known for eating pretty much everything in the wild as long as it moves. Whether they’re venomous or not doesn’t matter, unfortunately every breed of snake will happily eat a rabbit for dinner.

Snakes are famously known for being able to anything regardless of the size of their target. This means a rabbit is absolutely nothing in comparison to some meals.

Some varying breeds of snake like the Cobra, Viper, Mamba, Rattlesnack, Cornsnake etc may struggle to eat a rabbit in one go. But they’re bigger cousins the Python or Anaconda will have no issues and are often seen in live feeding in America