Do Opossums Kill Bunnies?


Virginia opossum, Didelphis virginiana, sitting on top of a fence

Recently one of our rabbits had a close call with a dog attack, this made me start to wonder, what are some other possible rabbit predators, and because I see opossums around here, I wondered if they were one of them? Here’s what I found.

Though it is rare if an opossum is hungry enough it will attack a rabbit with its incredibly sharp claws.

First, to clear up a common misconception, the Possum is a species of mammal from Australia that looks incredibly similar to the Opossum, despite the similarity of names these animals are not related.

The Opossum on the other hand is a North American species of marsupial. The most common is the Virginia Opossum, found across the US.

When Americans say ‘possum’ they are almost always referring to the native ‘opossum’, unless they are some kind of mammal expert.

What Type of Food Do Opossums Eat?

Opossums are very opportunistic omnivores, in other words, if an opossum sees prey it thinks it can kill, it will kill it. If presented with only vegetation though, the opossum will gladly eat that.

This said, there are currently dozens of different species of the opossum worldwide that all have very different food preferences.

Some opossum species like the Wooly Opossum and the Black Shouldered Opossum primarily prefer fruit. These species preside over much of South America in the lush amazon rainforests and parts of the plains of Brazil.

Other species prefer to prey more upon other animals. This adaptation is the most common in areas where there is less lush vegetation, like southern South America.

Are Opossums Strong and Vicious Enough to Kill a Rabbit?

The opossum can be a very ferocious mammal, often hunting everything from insects to chickens to even rattlesnakes by some select breeds with immunity to the snake’s poison.

Our small farm has personally had some chickens die from opossums attacks. The opossum has very sharp claws and tightly packed, sharp teeth that allow it to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting creature.

While opossums can easily kill a rabbit if they have the desire, the question remains, can they get into my rabbit’s cage if they are not out in the open?

The opossum can fit through a hole less than three inches in diameter, as a result, you should make sure that your rabbit’s cage has a strong wire with small holes to keep an opossum out.

It is also vital that all wire is secured tightly so an opossum cannot pry a small hole open.

Should I Be Worried About An Opossum Attack On My Bunny?

Overall, with proper protection, your rabbit will probably not be hurt by an opossum. Though they can break into a rabbit cage they most likely will not wish to.

In 10 years of having free-range chickens very few have been hurt by opossums. The only chickens we have lost to opossums were at night in the chicken coop; though we believe that the opossum found the chicken coop before it had been locked up for the night.

A protected rabbit is in an even better position. If your rabbit is in a strong cage there is very little likelihood of an opossum killing your rabbit.

Remember that rabbits have many other predators besides opossums and if you are confident that your cage could withstand a dog or raccoon attack there is a high likelihood that it can thwart an opossum.

Though there is some risk from an opossum attack remember that as long as your rabbit is in a strong cage or is being watched there is very little chance of them being harmed.

Conclusion

While opossums may attack your rabbit there are many other animals that are easier to get to that they prefer.

If an opossum is hungry enough there is a chance that they will break into a cage, but if it is well built and has small holes in the wires the chance that they will succeed is minimal.

While opossums are a worthy enemy, if your cage protects from more common predators your rabbit will most likely be safe.

~ Evander

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