Do Owls Eat Rabbits? 3 Proven Tips to Keep them Safe

Last Updated on May 31, 2023 by

If there are a lot of trees near where you live where there might be predatory birds, you might wonder, do owls eat rabbits?

Owls are mainly carnivorous because they feed on other animals but they can eat fruits on some occasions. The main diet of owls includes small insects like crickets and beetles, lizards, frogs, squirrels, small birds, and even big birds like the osprey.

If you keep a pet bunny and are wondering whether owls feed on rabbits, this article is for you.

Do Owls Eat Rabbits

Do Owls Eat Rabbits?

The short answer is yes, owls do eat rabbits. Let’s look at why they do it, how, and ways to protect your rabbit.

Why Do Owls Eat Rabbits?

Owls eat rabbits because they provide them with a good source of nutrition. Rabbits can be easy for them to hunt down too. For some owls like the great horned owl, rabbits are one of their basic foods.

How to Protect your Rabbit from Owls

Wild rabbits are easy to hunt down and will be spotted by owls from a long distance as they eat in open fields. Owls can also spot domesticated rabbits if they are out of their cage.

Here are ways to protect your pet from these birds of prey:

1. Let them sleep indoors

If you have a space inside your house where you can keep your rabbit, let them sleep indoors. Having them inside the house is the surest way of keeping them safe.

2. Build a secure cage

rabbits in cage

A secure cage is the best option if you cannot have your pet indoors. Use thick chicken wire all around it to keep off predators. 

Raise it by a few inches off the ground to prevent water and ground predators from getting inside.

Cover three sides of the cage to protect them from harsh weather and make them feel secure. Have a roof over the cage and over their playpen. Securing it ensures that owls will not be able to see them.

3. Use light

Owls are nocturnal animals and they are adapted to hunting in darkness. Leaving outdoor lights on near your pet’s cage will keep the owls away.

You can also use reflective tape or old CDs around the cage. The light reflections produced will confuse owls and keep them away.

Do Owls Eat Rabbit Heads?

Owls eat rabbit heads and sometimes the whole rabbit. They tend to only feed on the head if the rabbit is too big for them to carry. If an owl swoops down and captures a rabbit that it cannot lift, it will only eat the head and leave the rest of the body.

Can Owls Carry Rabbits?

Owls come in varying sizes. Some are small in size like the little owl and the screech owl. Others are big like the hawk owl, barn owl, barred owl, and the great horned owl.

Owls can carry both rabbit kittens and adult rabbits. They are known to carry heavy weights even if they have small bodies. For instance, the great horned owl can carry prey that is 4 times heavier than them.

If an owl catches a rabbit, they are able to carry it and take it somewhere else where they can safely eat it.

How do Owls Hunt and Kill Rabbits?

Do Owls Eat Rabbits

Owls are opportunistic predators. They will eat whatever is available for them to eat at the moment. Rabbits in the wild are easy prey for them because they forage out in the open.

Owls use the following tactics to hunt down rabbits:

Great sight and head flexibility

Owls have a really flexible head. They can rotate their head to 270° without moving any other body part. This, coupled with their good eyesight, enables them to spot rabbits easily.

Although they are nocturnal, owls have good eyesight even during the day. Their large eyes are farsighted, and they can see prey from a long distance.

Good hearing

Owls have a well-developed hearing system that is more sensitive than that of humans. They can hear even the minutest of prey movements in leaves and undergrowth.

Some owls can hear 12 inches under snow. Their good hearing helps them to detect where the prey is located.


Owls are very patient birds. Once they spot their prey, they can lurk for hours waiting for the perfect time to strike.

Silent flight

When an owl sees a rabbit, it will quietly perch on a nearby branch. This way, they will not alarm the rabbit and scare them off. 

When they are ready, they silently swoop down and capture their meal for the day.

Sharp talons

Owls have lethal, powerful talons. They can exert 28 pounds of pressure, pierce through the prey’s organs, and snap bones.

When an owl swoops down for a rabbit, they tear into them with its sharp talons and smash their heads. They will eat them on the spot, carry them to a safe place, or take them back to their young.

Which Owl is the Most Dangerous?

horned owl

The great horned owl is the most ferocious owl. This owl eats any prey it comes across whether the prey is making any movements or not. The owl is called the tiger owl because it is fearless.

A great horned owl is very aggressive and can attack prey that is bigger than itself from dogs to humans. You should be very careful when dealing with this kind of owl because it is dangerous.

Are Rabbits Afraid of Owls?

Yes, rabbits are afraid of owls. Rabbits are prey animals and this makes them fearful in nature. They are defenseless and cannot fight to protect themselves.

They will view everything that gets close to them as a threat. If an owl comes close to your pet’s cage, it will immediately sense danger. You may notice that they seem distressed, begin crouching, show restlessness, or even hide.

You can calm a scared rabbit by gently petting them, offering them their favorite treats, and giving them toys to distract them. 


Owls are predator birds and their prey animals include rabbits, other birds, insects, and squirrels. They patiently wait for their prey and use their strong talons to kill them.

Owls can carry away both young and adult rabbits. Ensure that your pet is in a safe cage at all times to protect them from these predators.