Birds of prey can be dangerous for rabbits when they are in the free run in the garden or on the balcony.
Especially with small breeds and young animals, the risk is increased.
However, you can prevent attacks with the appropriate safety measures. In this article we will tell you what these are and which birds of prey you must protect your rabbits from.
Why are birds of prey dangerous for rabbits?
Young rabbits and small breeds, such as ermine or color dwarfs, run the risk of being preyed upon by birds of prey in outdoor enclosures or even when kept in the garden.
The birds spy on the surroundings and pounce on the rabbits at perceived movements of small animals. They may seize them with their talons and fly away or kill and eat them on the spot by repeated pecking.
This danger exists during the day as well as at dusk and at night, because birds of prey are active and hunt at different times.
Differences between city and country
If you live in the city, you may be lulling yourself and your rabbits to safety.
Birds of prey, after all, are found primarily in the countryside….
Unfortunately, this is not the case!
Numerous animals that can be dangerous to your rabbits also appear in the city. They are less often seen consciously, but they also hunt for mice, rats and other small animals.
So even if your rabbit only gets free run on the balcony or has an enclosure in a small garden, you should take appropriate care and offer them protection.
Possible dangerous birds of prey for your rabbit
Domestic birds of prey that pose a danger to your rabbits include:
- Crows / Ravens
- Eagle owls
They differ considerably in size, weight, time of activity and hunting behavior.
However, an appropriate protection against attacks can look the same in each case and should be imperatively installed and stably laid out. Because even if you haven’t noticed any hawks or buzzards directly yet, they may have already settled near you.
Owls and eagle owls often do not attract attention, because they sleep during the day and go hunting only during the twilight.
These large birds of prey were almost extinct for a time, but now over 500 pairs can be found again in Germany alone. Golden eagles, lesser spotted eagles, ospreys and white-tailed eagles have reestablished themselves.
Due to their size, even heavier rabbits are easy prey for them. The same applies to cats and small dogs.
Therefore, pay attention to a comprehensive protection, because eagles are very strong and fast. They can hardly be kept away from a net.
Magpies are rarely observed in many areas.
However, the predators are fast and intelligent. As relatives of ravens and crows, they easily find hiding places, wait specifically until they are no longer threatened by humans or other domestic animals, and then strike.
With a length of 44 to 46 centimeters, the black and white birds themselves are not too big, but they can be very dangerous for color dwarfs or rabbit kittens.
Since magpies are often not very shy towards people, this also applies to the balcony. Therefore, keep in mind that a net or grate must be installed here as well to prevent birds from attacking.
Owls are considered wise animals and glide down on their prey almost silently. Their vision is designed for twilight and darkness, so they are not a threat until evening.
Owls can reach impressive sizes.
However, there are more than 200 different species, so potential prey includes both smaller and larger rabbits. Therefore, make sure that all rabbits are in the hutch by dusk.
Hawks are 39 to 51 inches long and have a wingspan of over three feet.
They are fast, intelligent and can be found in cities, among other places.
Like eagles, they belong to the birds of prey. This means that they catch and hold their prey with their claws. They do not kill the animals immediately, but first bring them to an area where they can kill and eat safely and undisturbed.
As a result, they need only a short time to escape with a rabbit.
A careless moment in the free run is already enough. Due to the size and power of birds of prey, they pose a danger not only to very small and light animals.
At 55 to 61 centimeters, goshawks have an impressive size, with females being larger and more powerfully built than males.
They prefer to hunt other birds and here mainly corvids, such as ravens, crows and magpies.
However, small mammals such as martens, rabbits, rats, squirrels and hares are also on the menu of hawks.
Rabbits kept as pets and hopping in the run unprotected from above are, so to speak, on display for the birds of prey. But this is not the only reason why they are easy prey.
Due to the hawks’ specialization on other, smaller birds, they are used to agile prey and are themselves very nimble and fast. Combined with their strength, they are therefore extremely dangerous.
Buzzards or buzzards are specialized on smaller mammals and birds but also insects. Nevertheless, they do not stop at very small rabbits or young rabbits when the opportunity presents itself.
You should therefore take special care with offspring.
Ravens, crows and other corvids are intelligent and not averse to protein-rich foods – i.e. other animals.
When threatened, they may attack in a flock. They show little shyness towards humans and sometimes even use road traffic to specifically crack nuts or open packages.
So with them, you must expect them to open simpler latches, not be deterred by a loose net, and thus be even more dangerous than larger birds of prey.
Therefore, provide your rabbits with plenty of hiding places and an all-around secure enclosure.
These impressive birds have a wide range of prey, which includes rabbits and brown hares.
Their hunting techniques include not only flying capture and swooping, but also hunting on the ground.
Therefore, set on a stable and robust enclosure that can withstand even greater forces.
How to protect your rabbit from birds of prey
Regardless of the bird of prey, the outdoor enclosure or balcony must be appropriately secured.
In the case of permanently mounted enclosures, the security can be much sturdier and thus provide a higher level of protection.
A roof made of solid wire mesh with a sturdy wooden or metal frame makes sense.
This not only protects against attacks by birds, but also against other potentially dangerous animals. Among them, for example:
To keep them safely out of the run, you also need to think about securing them underground.
This is especially true if your rabbits are kept completely outside or if they remain in the garden overnight, at least during the summer. Then, in addition, make sure they are in their hutch before the sun goes down and lock it. This will further reduce the risk of attack by other animals.
Bury lawn edging stones or wire mesh under the boundaries of the enclosure and check the free range daily. Some predators may try to dig under the fence or damage the fence.
If you notice such damage, it must be repaired immediately.
Also, keep in mind that direct attacks from other animals are not the only threat to your rabbits. Disease or parasite transmission is also possible, so good all-around protection is vital for several reasons.
If it is a mobile enclosure that can be moved again and again and is only fastened with pegs in the ground, you should at least stretch a net over it. This will not provide complete protection and will not be sufficient, especially at night, but it will at least provide an obstacle.
Nevertheless, keep an eye on your animals all the time, because a few seconds are enough for serious or even fatal injuries.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
The website will draw have authors who are vets, pet owners, and local pet breeders. All who will contribute their fantastic knowledge which in turn will be able to help you i hope.
There is a lot of information on the internet so it may be hard to know where exactly is the best place to start learning. But we will write articles that get straight to the point, and give you all the information that you need with no fluff!
If you have any questions please leave a comment on the article, and i will reply to you!