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Do Owls Attack and Eat Rabbits? What You Need To Know!

White Owl

Unfortunately for rabbits, small mammals make up the majority of food sources for many predator animals. Owls can spot a small rabbit from quite a long distance away. Also, larger owls and other birds of prey can carry off adult rabbits.

Wild rabbits are at greater threat because they have to eat in fields and other open areas. Domestic rabbits should be kept in hutches or cages at night to protect them against the cold but also against predators like birds of prey, foxes, and other animals.


Owls and Hunting

Owls are opportunistic predators, which means that they will hunt and eat anything available to them, whether small rodents or larger mammals. They are patient, have excellent hearing, and tend to be nocturnal, which means they do the majority of their hunting at night. Almost all species of owls can and will hunt rabbits because they are a good food source.

Long eared owl
Image Credit: Kevinsphotos, Pixabay

What Weight Can an Owl Pick Up?

Different species of owl can carry different weights, many due to the difference in the size of the owl themselves. A great horned owl can carry four times their own weight which means that they can easily carry the heaviest rabbits and hares. This particular breed will even take geese, which can weigh up to 12 pounds. A wild rabbit weighs, on average, 4 pounds, and a hare only weighs around 9 pounds.

What Are Owls Afraid Of?

If you are looking to protect your rabbits from predatory owls, your best bet is to provide them with cover. Domestic rabbits should be kept in a hutch or cage at night because these provide overhead protection. They can also provide a barrier against foxes and other wild animals that would consider your rabbit to be a tasty treat.

Owls are afraid of some larger animals, most notably humans. If you see an owl, you should be able to scare them away by making noise to alarm them. It is worth remembering that owls are patient, though, and they may lurk for several hours, waiting for the perfect opening to swoop down and carry the rabbit away when everything is quiet.

Will Lights Keep Owls Away?

Owls are nocturnal animals and enjoy using the cover of darkness to hunt. As such, lights can indeed keep owls away. Security lights might not register them until it’s too late, however, and having a light shining all night isn’t always practical. Lights can also affect the sleeping patterns of your other animals, especially if you keep chickens.

Owl hunting
Image Credit: Jongsun Lee, Unsplash

What Is the Most Aggressive Owl?

The Great Horned Owl is generally considered to be the most aggressive owl species. They will eat large prey, including Ospreys and other, smaller owls, and they feed on rabbits in the wild, as well as rodents, frogs, and even scorpions.

Are Rabbits Afraid of Owls?

Rabbits are prey animals. They have a natural dislike of predators like owls. This fear helps them survive, but it can also be mimicked to keep the animal away from your grass or plants. That said, rabbits do learn, so if you put up a scare owl, it may deter rabbits for a while, but they will eventually determine that the item is not a threat and they will return to eat your seedlings and lawn patch.

Will a Sparrowhawk Eat a Rabbit?

Sparrowhawks are quite small birds of prey, and it is unlikely that they would be able to kill, much less carry off, a fully grown adult rabbit. They may attempt to kill any kits that they see, however.

Would a Red Kite Attack a Rabbit?

The red kite is primarily a scavenger. While they will eat rabbits, they are usually already dead when the Kite arrives on the scene. That said, the bird does have the capability to kill smaller rabbits, and they will do so if the opportunity presents itself and especially if the bird is hungry or has extra mouths to feed.

Red kite
Image Credit: Birderswiss_Photography, Pixabay

Would a Kestrel Eat a Rabbit?

Kestrels will eat voles, mice, shrews, and small birds. They will even eat earthworms, and although they may be able to kill small rabbits, it is unlikely that they will attempt to unless they are really hungry and struggling for a food source.


Final Thoughts

Owls are highly skilled hunters, and they do enjoy eating small mammals and other small prey. Some species of owl are large enough to take down an adult rabbit and carry it away, and almost all are capable of killing a kitten rabbit. Keep pet rabbits in a hutch to protect them from owls and other natural predators, consider installing lights if owls are known to hunt on your land, and don’t be afraid to make noise if you see owls hunting in your area, because they are afraid of humans.

Featured Image: Richard Lee, Unsplash

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