Highly adaptable and cunning foxes live all over the world and are very dangerous for small animals. Besides being agile and swift predators, foxes are also opportunistic feeders and won’t miss a chance to score their next meal.
But do foxes eat rabbits? Yes, foxes eat and kill rabbits. In the wild, rabbits are one of the main food sources for foxes, especially at certain parts of the year. Foxes prey on small mammals and rabbits are easy prey since they are completely defenseless. If you keep rabbits in hutches make sure that they are fox-proof.
Besides rabbits, foxes will eat just about anything they come across so try to keep your small animals inside at least during the night. In this article, we’ll tell you why foxes eat rabbits and what you can do to keep your bunnies safe.
Do Foxes Prey On Rabbits?
Foxes prey on small pets including rabbits, guinea pigs, or chickens. Being such successful and cunning predators, most people believe that foxes are carnivores. The shocking truth, foxes are omnivores (source)!
So besides targeting your pet rabbit, a fox will also tear up your garden, bother garden vegetables and eat tubers, and whatever else they can find. They also eat fruit such as apples and berries, dig through trash cans, and prey on small dogs and cats.
The change of seasons offers different feeding opportunities for a red fox. In the colder winter months when a fox is in full predatory mode small animals are the main sources of food. Wild rabbits, rodents, and birds are the preferred animals on the fox’s menu during winter.
In spring foxes mostly eat bird eggs, earthworms, fish, and crabs from the shallows. When the weather gets hot in the summer, foxes usually eat insects such as caterpillars, crickets, beetles, and an occasional frog or a rodent. In autumn, foxes eat more plants including acorns, berries, apples, tubers, or anything else they can find.
Why Do Foxes Eat Rabbits?
Foxes eat rabbits because they are easy prey and a great source of essential nutrients. Despite being small animals, wild rabbits are a good source of meat the fox needs to survive the winter.
Rabbit meat is also a good source of vitamins B12 and E, and also contains several minerals including zinc, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. There are also many other vitamins and minerals inside the rabbit’s meat that foxes need to stay healthy and strong.
Wild rabbit meat is also full of protein and fats which are essential for building fat reserves and helping the fox to survive cold weather conditions when the food is scarce.
Are Rabbits Easy to Catch?
If you ever saw a rabbit sprint over an open field, you might be wondering how does a fox ever gets a chance of catching rabbits. Although rabbits can rely on their speed, the fox has powerful legs and great stamina so it can easily keep up with a rabbit during the chase.
Foxes also have flexible ankles that allow them to change directions, just as suddenly as a rabbit, and continue the chase without losing momentum.
There is no question that a rabbit will do everything in its power to outrun the fox and seek shelter and safety inside its burrow. But while some rabbits manage to escape, many end up captured, killed, and eaten by foxes.
Ways to Protect Your Rabbits from Foxes
All over the United States foxes prey on small pets or livestock, so ideally all rabbits should be kept as indoor-only pets. But if you plan on keeping your rabbits outdoors, you’ll need to be aware that urban foxes are a real threat.
Even if your rabbits are kept in cages or runs, there’s a chance that they will fall prey and be killed by a hungry fox. Don’t forget that foxes are extremely cunning and will even dig underneath fences to get their hands on some rabbit meat.
If you decide to keep your rabbits outdoors here are some ways you can protect them from foxes:
1. Use Scent Repellents
Scent repellents typically mimic certain odors that cause a fox to believe that another, bigger animal has already claimed that territory. It’s in a fox’s nature to avoid conflict, so they will move somewhere else leaving your rabbits alone.
Applying scent repellents is a relatively cheap and effective way to keep your rabbits safe (source). The only downside is that you’ll need to apply it regularly for continuous protection.
2. Sound Deterrents
Using sound deterrents is another highly effective and relatively inexpensive way to keep foxes away from your rabbits. Sound deterrents are ultrasonic devices that emit high-pitched noise that scares the fox every time it triggers the motion sensor detector.
3. Build A Fox Proof Enclosure
Building a fox proof enclosure is probably the best thing you can do to keep your rabbits safe in both rural and urban areas. This doesn’t have to be a huge construction project, but something that you can do over the weekend.
When building a fox-proof rabbit enclosure don’t forget that foxes like to dig and climb too. So consider adding fence wall spikes to the top of your fence. You should also have the wire buried at least 10 inches in the ground and turned outwards to prevent the foxes from digging under the enclosure.
Foxes are cunning and agile predators that prey on many small animals, including wild and domestic rabbits. But while wild rabbits can try to outrun the fox, your pet rabbit relies on you to keep them safe and protected.
If you plan on keeping your rabbits outdoors, know that foxes are a real threat that can strike at any time during the day and night. Building a fox-proof enclosure is the best way to keep your rabbits protected if there is no chance of keeping them indoors.