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Do Bears Attack and Eat Rabbits?

Nicole Cosgrove

Bears are big, fierce animals with large claws and sharp teeth. If you’ve seen one around your home and you happen to have a pet rabbit outside, you’re probably wondering if the bear will eat it. The short answer is yes—if the bear can actually catch it. You should probably bring your rabbit indoors until you can find a way to discourage the bear from coming onto your property. However, things are a little different in the wild, so keep reading if you are interested in finding out more about the bear’s diet and if they consistently eat rabbits.

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Do Bears Kill Rabbits?

Bears are opportunistic eaters that will eat a wide variety of things, including rabbits. However, it may surprise you to learn that as much as 80% of their diet consists of plants, including dandelions, berries, and seeds. If you see a bear eating meat, the animal was usually injured or killed by something else. Rabbits are too quick for a bear and will usually hop off before the bear gets close enough to present any danger.

What Animals Kill And Eat Rabbits

marsh rabbit
Image Credit: SunflowerMomma, Shutterstock

Rabbits are a primary source of food for many predators. Owls, hawks, snakes, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, and even an occasional squirrel will make a meal out of a rabbit, and though a rabbit can live 8–12 years in captivity, it rarely lives beyond 2 years old in the wild. It’s most active at dusk and dawn when the light is very dim. It also tends to be foggy around this time.

Dogs

Many dog breeds are created specifically for hunting rabbits, including the Labrador, Beagle, Basset Hound, and the Bloodhound, and these dogs are quite skilled. That being said, almost any dog will chase a rabbit if they see one and will likely kill it if they can. If you have a pet rabbit, you will need to keep them separated from dogs at all times. Even if they look friendly, it can be dangerous to allow them to interact.

Humans

Rabbit meat has long been a source of food for humans, and we’ve even created several dog breeds to help flush them out. Rabbits are a great source of protein that’s available year-round, but we also hunt them for their fur, especially in colonial times when there was neither food nor clothing.

Will My Cat Kill My Rabbit?

cat eating rabbit
Image Credit: Eddy Van 3000 from in Flanders fields – Belgiquistan – United Tribes ov Europe, Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, your cat will likely kill your pet rabbit if it gets the chance, and it will certainly do so in the wild. Cats are also known to eat the rabbits they kill, so you don’t want the cat to get too close. A few rabbit breeds are quite large, like the Flemish Giant or the Continental, and might be safe around less aggressive cats. Early socialization can also help, but we recommend close supervision during any encounters. We also recommend keeping your cat indoors at dusk and dawn when the rabbits are most active.

Can A Rabbit Defend Itself?

Unfortunately, rabbits do not have much in the way of defense. It will primarily run away, often in a zig-zag pattern, to escape predators. It likes to graze on shrubbery out in the open, but close to an area of cover that it can quickly get to if it detects trouble. Some rabbits create burrows to sleep in, while others will use shallow nests under coniferous trees.

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Summary

If you have a rabbit in the yard and have seen a bear close by, it’s better to bring it into your home until the danger passes, especially if it’s early in the spring when the bears are hungry after hibernating all winter. The bear is likely more interested in your garbage where it might find some home-cooked food, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. In the wild, bears probably eat very few rabbits, if any, since they are too fast for the bear to catch. Though the bear is an apex predator, it’s usually content to eat berries and shrubbery, or animals killed by coyotes.

We hope you have enjoyed this look into these common animals’ eating habits and found the answers to your questions. If you know someone with a pet rabbit, please share this discussion about bears attacking and eating rabbits on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image: Free-Photos, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.