You don’t have to worry about wolves eating your pet bunnies if you live in the city, but if you live in the countryside, it is a whole other story. These apex predators are no friends of rabbits, and you need to know how to keep your rabbit safe.
While wolves and rabbits aren’t friends, do wolves eat rabbits? Yes, wolves do prey on rabbits. While a wolf mainly eats large hooved animals like deer and bison, it supplements its diet with small mammals like rabbits, birds, and fish, as well as plant matter. Wolves will also readily feast on baby rabbits if they are not kept safe.
Do Wolves Prey on Rabbits?
In North America, there are two wolf species: the red wolf and the gray wolf. The red wolf is mainly found in North Carolina, whereas the gray wolves can be found in Alaska, the southwest, the pacific northwest, the northern rocky mountains, and the western Great Lake states.
A wolf’s diet comprises 40% plant material and 60% meat. However, this varies according to the seasons and availability of food sources. In general, wolves will mostly eat deer during the cold months.
During spring, they also prey on other large hooved animals, called large ungulates, like elk, bison, moose, and caribou. Deer (also an ungulate) and beavers also feature on the menu.
During summer, a wolf’s diet consists more of birds, fish, and small mammals (yes, rabbits are part of the small mammal group).
Interestingly, wolves love catching white-tailed hares, but during the winter when it snows, it is difficult for wolves to catch them.
Why Do Wolves Eat Rabbits?
Wolves are carnivores but not completely so since they also eat plant matter to supplement their diet. As such, rabbits are a source of meat, as well as other nutrients. It, thus, makes sense that wolves would feast on rabbits.
However, wolves will only prey on bunnies when their normal, preferred food sources are scarce or supplement their diet.
Are Rabbits Easy to Catch by Wolves?
Rabbits are small animals, and while they are smart, they are relatively easy for wolves to prey on.
When it comes to small mammals, wolves usually attack from the front, biting the neck of their prey. The rabbit, with its good eyesight, will see the wolf approaching from the front.
If a rabbit is caught, it is no match for the wolf, which is much bigger and has a massive bite force. The bite strength of a wolf under normal circumstances is 400 pounds per square inch (PSI), and this increases to 1,200 pounds of pressure when it needs to protect itself.
A rabbit’s PSI is only 70, making it clear who wins when a wolf preys on a rabbit since the wolf can easily cause fatal damage when it clinches a rabbit in its jaws. A wolf also has much larger jaws.
However, a rabbit does have strong jaws, so when they bite they can puncture all the way to the bone. Moreover, they can hold on, exacerbating a wound when an animal tries to unlatch it.
Despite all this, a rabbit has some survival mechanisms it relies on to protect itself in the wild.
With a sharp sense of hearing and good smell capabilities and great eyesight, a rabbit is able to hear or spot a wolf and warn its family that danger is approaching.
A rabbit does this by thumping loudly on the ground, thus alerting their warren that lives in underground burrows that danger is nearby.
Rabbits also have sharp claws, and when threatened, these animals can exhibit boxing behavior. This is when a rabbit stands on its hind legs and swipes at a predator in warning to stay away.
It is important to note that your domesticated rabbit has a high risk of being killed and eaten by a wolf should one or a pack make its way into your yard.
The responsibility falls on you to keep your pet bunny safe from all danger, including other predators such as snakes.
Ways to Protect Your Rabbits From Wolves
There are a few ways you can protect your pet bunnies from wolves.
If your rabbit lives inside the house with you, it is relatively safe. However, if your rabbit stays in a hutch outside, then the following ways are crucial to ensure your rabbit stays safe.
Firstly, you should ensure that the whole of your property is fenced. Fencing will keep out any predators like wolves that wander into your yard in the pursuit of their next meal.
Ideally, your fence should be 8 feet high and angle outward at the top. The fence should also extend underground and bend outward for nearly afoot to keep predators from digging away under the fence.
This is merely one step in securing your yard.
Other measures include ensuring that outdoor pet food is securely stored away, food waste is removed, grasses and bushes are trimmed, and garden beds are enclosed.
There are even additional methods you can look at to make your yard unappealing to predators. You can look at motion-activated sprinklers, electric fences, motion-detecting alarms or ultrasonic alarms, scent deterrents, or even motion-activated lights and other visual deterrents.
Next, you want to secure your rabbit hutch. You can either reinforce the hutch or build a durable one using metal and solid wood.
To reinforce or build your own rabbit hutch, use wire mesh that’s 2 mm or thicker.
Ensure the doors to the hutch, as well as any roof openings, are closed with bolts and locks. Sly predators like foxes, badgers, raccoons, and weasels can learn how to open latches, so these are a big no-no.
Place your hutch on an impenetrable surface like solid concrete. If your hutch is floorless, then place wire mesh underneath so predators like wolves can’t get to your rabbit from underneath the hutch.
Bunnies are easy prey animals for wolves and other predators. While a rabbit can protect itself somewhat in the wild, at home, and as your pet, your rabbit has a low risk of getting away once a wolf sets its eyes on Mr. Fluffles.
When you keep a pet rabbit, you need to make sure that the whole of your property is safe and that if you house your rabbit outside, the hutch is reinforced and built from sturdy materials so a wolf can’t gain access to your bunny.