Can domesticated rabbits survive in the wild? This may be a question many rabbit owners have asked themselves at some point, whether it is because they are thinking about releasing their pet rabbit or wondering if their rabbit escaped, would it be able to cope on its own.
Whatever the reason, there is an answer to the question.
The short answer is no, they can’t. But what is the reason for this?
Domesticated Rabbits Survival Skills In The Wild
Having lived in the safety of captivity, domesticated rabbits have not learnt the proper survival techniques to escape predators like naturally wild rabbits have.
Having being handled so freely by humans, the domesticated rabbit would not sense danger in the same way as a wild rabbit, leading it to be more trusting to other creatures in the wild, even those who may be out to capture and kill it.
Wild rabbits tend to survive for as little as a year due to predators whereas rabbits who are kept as pets can live up to eight years.
Disease And Infection
Rabbits that live in the wild from birth build up a resistance to the diseases and bacteria that they come into contact with on a daily basis.
A rabbit who has spent its entire life in captivity will not have had the chance to develop this resistance and therefore is much more susceptible to contracting life threatening diseases or infections. This will inevitably lead to the death of the animal.
A rabbit who was born in captivity will have had its food given to it every day of its life, never having to look for food itself.
This means that a domesticated rabbit who is let out into the wild would not have the correct skills it requires to look after its own diet, leading eventually to malnourishment. It may also eat foods that are not healthy for a rabbit which could result in the animal becoming sick.
See also: What do wild rabbits eat?
If a rabbit has spent its life contained safely and warm in a hutch or inside a house, it will have developed a need for that type of environment. If it is released into the wild, the rabbit simply would not be able to handle the harsh elements.
Somewhere To Lay Its Head
A domesticated rabbit placed in the wild would instinctively dig a burrow for itself, but this would be the only survival skill that it would be capable of.
Simply put, it is not a good idea to release a domestic rabbit into the wild, and in some places, it is in fact illegal to do so.
If you no longer wish to keep your pet rabbit, the most humane and kind thing to do for the animal is to re-home it. There are plenty of ways you can do this, either through re-homing website, animal charities or classified ads.
If your rabbit has escaped, it is a good idea to search for the animal as best as you can and if you find it, return it home as soon as possible.