WARNING: This section may disturb sensitive readers.
PREDATORS – DOGS AND CATS AND RACCOONS AND SNAKES OH MY!
This is the saddest and most tragic aspect of raising rabbits. Unless one is extremely proactive and vigilant, predators WILL be a problem at least once. I’m going to tell you the horrible, graphic truth here, so you’ll be prepared, and because you need to understand how very real the possibility of predator attacks are. Hopefully you will be able to prevent these terrible attacks in your rabbitry.
No matter where you live, town or country, predators will be a potential problem. Dogs are the most common and obvious problem. Any dog is a potential rabbit killer. Your own family dog may learn to associate your rabbits with his “pack” and protect them, but I wouldn’t leave a dog alone with rabbits. Your rabbitry must be fenced away from dogs. Dogs can be surprisingly determined to get access to rabbits. Likely damage: Cages ripped apart, skin ripped off rabbits, rabbit still alive with paws missing, faces eaten off, and so on. Very, very sad. Don’t be naive about the possibility of dog attacks on your rabbitry.
Raccoons and cats, in my experience, usually will not bother with adult rabbits. But they really go for succulent, tender little bunnies. Raccoons and cats will reach right through the cage wire and eat bunnies. You may find a disembodied head rolling around the cage; that seems to be a trademark of cats and raccoons.
Snakes can be very quick and very clever about stealing kits from the nestbox. Your “harmless” little garter snakes are particularly slick at this. Even if you keep your kits in a box in the house and take them to the mama for nursing once a day, as I do, be vigilant. I lost a few kits by setting the box they were in down on the ground for just a few minutes while I watered the herd. When I returned to the box, I saw a snake slither away, and I found that kits were missing.
Rats enjoy a diet of kits, and can be clever about killing older bunnies, too.