Can Pet Rabbits Survive in The Wild? An Early Death Sentence

Can Pet Rabbits Survive in The Wild
Can Pet Rabbits Survive in The Wild

Rabbits are one of the most loving, social captive small pets we can enjoy. They always have been. They bring millions of small pet owners a great deal of joy and companionship. As pet owners, we do often have questions and concerns about rabbits. Whether that’s simple questions that help enhance the care we provide or other random questions that just spark our curiosity. For me, I was curious about many things. Can pet rabbits survive in the wild? After some research, here’s the information I can provide you.

So, can pet rabbits survive in the wild? No, it’s not likely that a pet rabbit will survive for very long in the wild. Pet rabbits are not aware of many things that feral or wild rabbits know. Items such as escaping prey, dodging vehicles or finding adequate shelter are a tough task for pet rabbits.

Other considerations need to be factored into this question and explained a little bit deeper to give you a clearer understanding of why pet rabbits can’t survive in the wild and how rabbits interact with their environment.

More About Rabbits Surviving in The Wild

Some pet rabbit owners over the years have been under the wrong impression. The pet-owner may have had good intentions and may not have known any better in many circumstances. Sometimes, pet rabbit owners will release their rabbit into the wild because they believe it’s what they were meant to do and where the rabbits were meant to be.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Unfortunately, a domesticated pet rabbit that has been raised in captivity was never designed to survive in the wild, and sadly, your intentions, and it’s more likely your rabbit is now going to experience an early death.

You see, pet rabbits just aren’t prepared for this transition. They don’t know any other world. They don’t know what a car even is or that the tires will, in fact, kill them upon contact.

Car dodging skills and even out-running and out-smarting predators are just the few beginning reasons why it’s highly unlikely that your pet rabbit just won’t make the cut being a free man in the wild. Let’s touch on each of these aspects a little more.

No Survival Instincts at All

We understand rabbits aren’t at the top of the food chain in the wild. This is true even if they have remained in the wild for generations and never have been domesticated. Even the rabbit with the highest street smarts won’t make it for too terribly long in the wild.

With domesticated pet rabbits, it’s even worse. Those witty skills of digging, running, hiding and dodging are even more diluted in these situations. They really have no skill set at all except showering you with cuddles and love.

The Predators Will Come

I know. It’s terribly sad to think about this, but it’s 100% true. Domesticated rabbits compared to wild rabbits don’t blend into the habitat very well. Domesticated rabbits with the dirty brown color have a chance to hide, but the other strong variations of bright colors for domesticated rabbits will stick out like a sore thumb to the predators.

The possible predators that could be coming for a pet rabbit released into the wild are endless, and the list can become very long in a hurry. Here’s a look at some of the animals that may be planning its next attack on a pet rabbit.

  • Dogs (domesticated)
  • Raccoons
  • Coyotes
  • Owls
  • Foxes
  • Hawks

Your Beefed-Up Rabbit Is Slower Than A Turtle

Okay, not really but you get the point. Our domesticated pet rabbits are larger and slower than wild rabbits. This is another recipe for sadness, danger, and disaster. By the time a clever predator gets close enough to strike, a wild rabbit may have a chance to escape because of pure speed and having that spring in the step.

Our pet rabbits, however, not so much. When our pet rabbits recognize danger is close in the wild it’s almost surely too late to have a chance to get away.

Your Rabbit Can’t Find Food Anymore

Keep in mind. A domesticated or pet rabbit has been eating by no means except what you have provided to him over the years. It’s not a smooth transition going from a holder full of pellets to scavenging from food sources on your own while attempting to elude a fox, coyote and a hawk swooping down for you.

This is something that wild rabbits do excel at. Finding food sources. However, even though wild rabbits can find a food source, it’s still not likely they ever survive more than 3 years. In most circumstances. It’s only for 1 year.

Your pet rabbit or domesticated rabbit. The one-year survival rate is only going to occur if your rabbit found a steel cage and was able to lock himself in and have food sources rain from the sky.

It’s not very likely to happen without some pure luck taking place. They just are not built to make it long outside the walls of your home and property.

So, What Should I do?

Well first, I’d argue if that if your thought is to let your rabbit loose on the next highway intersection you pass, you probably had no business owning a rabbit, to begin with. Ethics don’t just apply to business.

They apply to all facets of life and being an ethical pet owner inevitably falls into this category. Secondly, if you just can’t handle owning a bunny, you should contact a shelter or helpline and find a safe harbor spot where you can drop your rabbit off.

Again, just take the time to think it for a second. Your domesticated rabbit doesn’t come from the same parents those brown bunnies jumping in the yard did. Yes, they are both rabbits but completely different breeding.

Not just 1 set of breeding either. Generations of it. Your bunny has never learned anything except showcasing its cute face and smooth fur to hopefully land an owner that will cuddle with him or her in the bed at night. Yep, if you didn’t believe that was possible, make sure to see our article about sleeping with your bunny at night. You can see that here.

Something we haven’t covered. We haven’t mentioned that accidents happen as well.

What if my rabbit escaped will it survive?

Well first. We applaud you that you found this post for a legitimate concern that could happen that doesn’t fall into the simple ignorance category.

Secondly, no. It doesn’t matter if you give the rabbit the boot or he sneaks through the back door. The wild begins the second he exits his natural habitat or the home. When the wild begins, the cars streaming 55 mph down the road starts in addition to the scent being put off to all nearby predators.

Am I ever going to provide any good news? Yes, and it’s coming right now.

Act quickly. Missing rabbit flyers is not a good use of your time. Your rabbit should have some trust and knowledge of where it’s been raised over the years. In most circumstances, your rabbit is not springing and looking for the next flight to a Caribbean beach. He could be near the home or closer than you would think.

Keep in mind that your rabbit is still…. A rabbit. Rabbits hide, they get scared, and they aren’t necessarily stupid. They are just domesticated. Check some dark areas around the house to ensure your rabbit isn’t hiding out of fear.  

Outside of that, you could canvas the neighborhood, but in the event, your bunny legitimately left the immediate area, you be better off contacting a local animal control business and just saying a few prayers.

Another Danger. Weather Elements

Wild rabbits, this isn’t much of a concern. They can survive and thrive in the cold. How many have seen the footprints through the snow? Everyone that has snow where they live I’m sure. Wild rabbits do just fine in these conditions.

Domesticated pet rabbits? Again, not so much. 45-50 degrees F is the lowest most domesticated rabbit can remain comfortable. Surviving in the cold won’t be an easy task for your rabbit if he or she does happen to make an escape plan and becomes successful with it.

Putting It All Together. Keep Wild Rabbits, Wild. Keep Pet Rabbits, Inside

Hopefully, nobody took this the wrong way or believed it was meant to point fingers at someone who released a pet rabbit into the wild by mistake. Listen, mistakes happen as pet owners. However, it’s essential as pet owners around the world that we adopt and care for pets in ethical ways and provide the best care possible.

A simple google search even to this post would have advised against releasing a pet rabbit into the wild before it ever occurred. Always be diligent with knowledge and research and learn your pets as much as possible.

If your bunny escaped and your worried, I feel for you. I really do, and I hope it turns out okay. Do you have any stories to share about your pet bunny escaping and having a safe return or any stories about releasing a pet rabbit into the wild? Be sure to drop a comment below.