Do Pet Rabbits Attract Rodents?

Rabbits hopping around the backyard or relaxing in their hutches seem peaceful enough. Yet an unseen menace may lurk nearby, threatening the lives of these docile creatures. Rat and mice pose a real danger to domestic rabbits, capable of inflicting injury, spreading infectious disease, or even directly killing vulnerable young kits. These vicious rodents are cunning in their persistence, squeezing through tiny gaps and gorging themselves on rabbit food. Is there any way to protect helpless pet rabbits from these destructive pests? How exactly can rats and mice hurt rabbits? What preventative measures can rabbit owners take against these vicious predators? Read on to learn how to safeguard your rabbits!

Do Rats Attack Rabbits?

Rats and rabbits generally co-exist peacefully and do not purposefully attack one another. However, there are some circumstances in which rats may go after rabbits.

Rats are opportunistic omnivores and will eat just about anything when hungry. If a domestic rabbit is sick, injured, or unable to defend itself, an opportunistic rat may attack and even kill the rabbit. Rats have sharp teeth and strong jaws capable of biting through flesh and bone. A group of rats could quickly overwhelm and kill a rabbit.

Mother rabbits will fiercely defend their young, but baby bunnies are vulnerable to rat attacks. Rats will eat baby rabbits if given the chance. Rabbits kept in outdoor hutches are at higher risk of confrontation with predatory rats. Sick, elderly, or very young rabbits are also more vulnerable.

While direct attacks are rare, rats may harass and stress out rabbits by invading their territory. Rats are highly intelligent and social animals that live in large colonies. A major rat infestation near a rabbit hutch can cause significant stress to the rabbits as they are prompted to constantly be on high alert. Prolonged stress can lead to health issues in rabbits.

In summary, while rats do not typically hunt rabbits, they will capitalize on easy prey if the opportunity presents itself. Rabbits perceived as weak or vulnerable due to age, illness or their surroundings are most at risk to aggressive and predatory rat behaviors. Preventative action should be taken to protect rabbit hutches and pens from rodent intrusion.

Does Rabbit Poop Attract Rats?

Yes, rabbit droppings can attract rats and other rodents if allowed to accumulate in large amounts. Here's why:

  • Rabbits produce a large volume of poop. A single rabbit may produce hundreds of dry, round fecal pellets per day. If this poop is not cleaned up regularly, it piles up quickly.

  • The droppings are high in fiber and undigested plant matter. Rodents like rats will eat rabbit poop to gain nutrients. Some rodents even prefer rabbit droppings over other foods.

  • The smell of accumulated droppings, urine and other rabbit waste can draw rodents looking for food sources. Rats have a strong sense of smell and are prompted to investigate.

  • Rats are opportunistic feeders. A large, unprotected pile of rabbit droppings is an inviting food source requiring minimal effort on the part of foraging rats.

  • Rabbit hutches provide shelter. Rats may take up residence in a hutch or pen to be close to the free food source. Once established, they are difficult to evict.

To discourage rats, rabbit pens and litter boxes should be kept clean. Droppings should be removed daily, disposed of properly, and all uneaten fresh foods also removed. Good sanitation practices reduce odor and mess that appeal to opportunistic rats. Proper maintenance and exclusion methods also help block rat access to rabbit food, water and shelter.

Can Rats Harm Rabbits?

Yes, rats can potentially harm domestic pet rabbits in several ways:

Rat Bite Fever

Rat bite fever is an illness humans and other animals can get after being bitten by an infected rat. The bacteria Streptobacillus moniliformis or Spirillum minus causes the disease. Rabbits are susceptible.

Symptoms include fever, vomiting, joint pain, rash, headache, muscle pain and more. Without treatment, rat bite fever can lead to infection of the joints, heart issues, pneumonia and complications. Rabbits showing signs of rat bites or unexplained illness should be evaluated by a veterinarian.


Rats can transmit salmonella bacteria to rabbits through their urine and feces. Salmonella causes intestinal illness characterized by diarrhea, which can be fatal to small animals like rabbits if fluids and electrolytes are not replenished.

Good hygiene and sanitation help protect rabbits from salmonella. Contaminated food and water sources are common causes. Isolate any rabbit showing symptoms to prevent spread among other pets. Call a vet promptly if salmonella is suspected.

Other Diseases

Rats can carry many other diseases transmissible to rabbits, including coccidiosis, sarcoptic mange, tapeworms, ringworm fungus, leptospirosis and more. Don't allow pet rabbits access to areas frequented by wild rats. See a vet if rabbits show signs of illness after rat exposure.

Rats may also directly or indirectly injure rabbits through biting, scratching, startling the rabbit causing dangerous falls or injury, contaminating food and water, or introducing parasites into the rabbit's environment.

Take proactive steps to rat-proof any outdoor hutches, pens or colonies to protect the health and safety of pet rabbits. Monitor rabbits closely when rats are active in the area.

Will Rats Eat Baby Rabbits?

Yes, rats will eat unattended baby rabbits or "kits" if given the opportunity. Here's why newborn and juvenile rabbits are vulnerable:

  • Baby rabbits are small, helpless and cannot run away or fend off predators. Wild baby cottontails weigh just 2 to 5 ounces at birth.

  • Kits have thin, delicate skin and bones that rats can easily bite or gnaw through. Rats have strong jaws capable of biting through flesh, muscles and bones.

  • Newborn rabbits are not very mobile for the first week or two of life. They remain tucked away in nests lined with fur – an appealing discovery for hungry rats.

  • Baby rabbits often die when separated from their mother. If rats cause injury or stress, kits can perish indirectly. Survival depends on maternal care.

  • Some rats kill but do not eat rabbit kits. Rats have a strong prey drive and may kill for sport. Other times, the rats cache or hoard the carcasses.

To protect vulnerable newborn and juvenile rabbits, mothers build nests away from areas trafficked by predators. Rabbit owners must take similar precautions with outdoor hutches. Ensuring rats cannot access the hutch protects kits.

Do Rabbits Deter Rats?

The presence of rabbits does not reliably deter rats or other rodents. Here are some reasons why:

  • Rats are highly intelligent, social animals. While cautious of new things, rats readily adapt to changes in their environment. A few rabbits are not likely to scare rats away permanently.

  • Rabbits produce a lot of droppings containing undigested plant matter and nutrients. This makes an excellent food source to attract rats rather than repel them.

  • Rabbits do not exhibit aggressive territorial behaviors like directly attacking other animals. Their presence alone does not intimidate rats.

  • Rabbits kept as pets in hutches are not able to assert dominance over the surrounding environment. Wild rats perceive caged rabbits as non-threatening.

  • Each rat colony has a complex social hierarchy and defense strategy. Interlopers are swiftly chased out or killed. Rabbits pose little threat to large, smart rat colonies.

  • Rats travel impressive distances to forage. If motivated by a good food source, rats will explore rabbit hutches despite mild uncertainties or risks.

While rabbits alone will not effectively repel rats, sanitation and exclusion tactics can make the environment less attractive. Removing food sources, fixing points of entry, and implementing population control methods deter rats more reliably than simply adding rabbits.

Do Rabbits Attract Mice?

Like rats, house mice are attracted to the food, water and shelter provided by rabbit hutches. Here's why the presence of rabbits can draw mice:

  • Rabbit pellet feed offers a nutritious, convenient food source for opportunistic mice. Mice will raid rabbit food supplies.

  • Spilled feed, leftover produce and accumulated rabbit droppings provide food mice can scavenge easily.

  • Water bottles and bowls kept full for rabbits provide needed water for thirsty mice.

  • Hay used for bedding provides nest-building material mice can quickly craft into warm, soft nests.

  • Secluded corners of rabbit pens and hutches offer safe shelter for female mice to build nests and raise young.

  • Rabbit fur shed during molting gives mice material to line nests and remain insulated during cold weather.

  • Urine and other rabbit odors mark the hutch as a haven. Mice identify and follow the scent.

  • Gnawed openings created by rabbits along hutches give mice entry points. They will follow the rabbit trails.

To discourage mice, regularly clean hutches and pens to remove odors, nesting sites, waste food and other attractions. Seal up any entry holes, keep bedding clean and dry, and store food in chew-proof containers. Removing what draws mice in is more effective than relying on rabbits to repel them.

Are Mice Afraid of Rabbits?

Mice are not innately afraid of rabbits. Here's some background on the mouse brain and behavior:

  • Mice have a strong prey drive, but rabbits are much larger so mice do not perceive them as typical prey.

  • Rabbits move quietly and do not aggressively chase mice, so there is little to instill an innate fear.

  • Mice rely on scent cues. Rabbit smells attract mice looking for food rather than repelling them.

  • In lab settings, mice show no fear response to rabbits, demonstrating they do not perceive rabbits as predators.

  • Wild mice are very adaptable and readily adjust to new environments, foods and cohabitating animals like rabbits.

  • House mice thrive around human homes and structures, acclimating to pets like rabbits.

  • Mice have poor eyesight so visual cues, like rabbits hopping about, do not alarm them.

While not innately afraid, mice will show caution and alarm when rabbits suddenly charge, stomp, or make other loud noises. Mice may avoid cages where rabbits are overly aggressive. Overall, mice treat rabbits indifferently, focusing on survival needs like food, shelter and safety for reproduction. Removing attractions is more effective for deterring mice than relying on fear.

Are Mice Dangerous to Rabbits?

Mice can pose the following dangers to pet rabbits:

  • Contaminating food and water sources by leaving droppings and urine in bowls. Ingesting waste can make rabbits sick.

  • Spreading bacteria that causes illness in rabbits, like E. coli, salmonella and Clostridium piliforme.

  • Passing parasites and insects to rabbits, including mites, fleas and ticks. Mice are common intermediate hosts.

  • Biting or scratching rabbits while fighting over shared territory and resources. Wounds are susceptible to infection.

  • Exposing rabbits to toxins by bringing in pest baits and other poisons they've ingested.

  • Causing stress in rabbits due to persistent activity and invasion of space. Chronic stress weakens the immune system.

  • Disturbing rabbits by moving suddenly and noisily around cages. Frightening rabbits can cause injury.

  • Gnawing on hutch wiring, allowing rabbits to escape while also letting in other predators.

While mice themselves do not commonly kill healthy, full-grown rabbits, they can inflict significant damage to the cage environment. Addressing a mouse problem promptly reduces health risks to pet rabbits sharing that space.

Keeping Mice and Rats Out of Rabbit Hutches

Here are some tips to exclude mice and rats from rabbit hutches or pens:

  • Use tightly sealing metal, glass or plastic containers to store all rabbit foods. Mice can chew through plastic but have difficulty opening screw-top lids.

  • Clean up any spilled or leftover food promptly. Give mice and rats no chance to scavenge stray bits.

  • Place water bowls on wire stands above litter pan level. This prevents feces and urine contamination.

  • Remove soiled bedding every day. The odor and nesting appeal draws rodents.

  • Discard loose fur, which mice will collect for lining nests. Groom rabbits over wire floors allowing fur to fall through.

  • Seal any openings wider than 1⁄4 inch with caulk, mesh or metal flashing. Mice can squeeze through remarkably small gaps.

  • Ensure doors close tightly. Add weatherstripping if needed. Add hooks and latches for extra security at night when rodents are active.

  • Use fine mesh fencing like hardware cloth under the bottom edge of hutches to prevent rodents digging underneath. Bury wire several inches underground.

  • Position hutches away from structures, debris and burrow sites that provide cover for rodents. Clear brush and grass 2 feet or more around the hutch perimeter.

  • Place traps along hutch walls and the surrounding area to catch rodents attempting to get in. Check traps daily and remove any catches.

With some strategic maintenance and exclusion tactics, rabbit owners can successfully keep hutches rodent-free and protect the health of their rabbits. Be vigilant about denying access to food, water and shelter within the cage space.

Making Your Yard Undesirable To Rodents

Besides securing rabbit hutches, implementing rodent control across your entire yard helps reduce interest and incursions. Here are some tips:

  • Remove brush, wood piles and general clutter that provide cover and nesting sites.

  • Close off access to potential den sites like openings under porches or sheds.

  • Trim vegetation back from structures. Prune tree branches overhanging the roof.

  • Eliminate possible food sources by cleaning up fallen fruit, keeping trash contained, and not feeding wildlife.

  • Stop water leaks and eliminate puddles, soggy areas and standing water.

  • Fill holes and cracks in foundations, walls, window sills and around pipes.

  • Install flashing, mesh or gravel to block digging under sheds and other structures.

  • Use traps or bait stations next to buildings and other prime living spots to establish a perimeter defense.

  • Set up deterrents like bright lights, sprinklers and predator urine.

  • Use moth balls, synthetic snake repellents and ammonia soaked rags to make areas smell unpleasant.

  • Get a mouser cat! The scent and presence of felines discourages rodents.

  • Call an exterminator if populations are already high. They have strong chemicals and poisons to reduce numbers.

Keeping your property tidy and inhospitable to pests makes rabbit cages less appealing by comparison. Rodents are prompted to find easier, more suitable habitat elsewhere if the basics of food, water and shelter are limited across the premises.

Preventative Maintenance

The old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" definitely applies to keeping rodents away from rabbit hutches. Here are some key preventative measures:

  • Start rodent-proofing from day one when getting a new rabbit, not after a problem starts.

  • Choose hutch locations wisely to avoid shade, cover, and access routes used by rodents. Position away from buildings.

  • Seal and lock down the hutch tightly before bringing home any rabbits. Give rodents no openings.

  • Monitor for any evidence of gnawing, droppings,tunnels or sightings daily. Tackle problems right away.

  • Establish consistent cleaning routines for removing wastes, fur and old food that draws in scavengers.

  • Inspect the hutch weekly for maintenance issues like gaps, rust, broken locks or mesh. Fix promptly.

  • Refresh baits or traps on the perimeter monthly to intercept exploratory rodents.

  • Keep vegetation pruned back 2 feet around the entire hutch. Remove hiding spots for rodents.

  • Feed rabbits inside protective rodent-proof containers. Pick up remaining food before locking up for the night.

  • Store hay bales on pallets and covered. Rotate stock to prevent rodent infestation.

With some dedication and vigilance, rabbit owners can stay one step ahead of rodents seeking to intrude. Thinking preventatively helps safeguard rabbits.

Will Rabbits Attack Rodents?

No, domestic rabbits do not normally attack mice, rats or other rodents. Here's some context on rabbit behavior:

  • Rabbits are prey animals programmed to flee rather than fight threats. Their instincts drive them to hide and avoid conflict.

  • Wild rabbits use stealth and camouflage to evade predators. Freeze or dart away rather than confront.

  • Pet rabbits are not territorial like dogs. They do not attack encroaching animals even in their own space.

  • Rabbits lack sharp claws, venom or other offensive weapons suited for capturing or wounding rodent pests.

  • As vegetarians, rabbits have no interest in hunting and eating rodents. They seek plant foods rather than meat.

  • Domestic rabbits depend on humans for protection and are poorly equipped to fend off wild rodents.

  • Cornered rabbits may hiss, lunge or bite in self-defense but otherwise avoid contact with rodents. Defensive, not aggressive.

  • Well-fed pet rabbits have little drive to work to hunt or kill other animals when food is plentiful.

While rabbits are unlikely to deliberately attack rodents, they can be part of an integrated pest management plan by allowing natural scent and presence to deter rodents when combined with other methods.


Rodents like rats and mice are drawn to rabbit hutches as convenient sources of food, water and shelter. While conflict is rare, rodents can potentially threaten the health and safety of pet rabbits through disease transmission, contamination and aggressive behaviors in extreme cases. Diligent sanitation, exclusion tactics, and preventative maintenance helps protect rabbits by denying rodents access and removing attractions. While rabbits themselves do not deliberately deter rodents, responsible hutch management and rodent-proofing does reduce risks. With some knowledge and vigilance, rabbit owners can take proactive steps to keep both pets and pests safe from harm.


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