View Full Version : What decapitates rabbits?

Mar. 26, 2012, 06:19 PM
I've found two very neatly beheaded adult rabbits in the pasture in the last 10 days. Any ideas?

Mar. 26, 2012, 06:21 PM
Do a search as I believe there has been a thread already on this a year or so back. Lots of good ideas, but my favorite is Chupacabre.

I'm not sure this is the thread I was thinking of, but here is one on decapitated things..


Mar. 26, 2012, 06:34 PM
That was interesting. We do have a resident hawk, who stalks our bird feeders and our chickens (unsuccessfully thus far). When I found the first one, I didn't think much of it. It was on the walking path I've made, but by the woods, so I figured I just spooked off whatever caught it. The one today was out in the middle of ten acres, in the pathway the horses have made, really in the wide open. That seemed stranger to me than the first one. We do have bobcats in TN, although I haven't seen one around here. I know there are foxes and coyotes around, but it doesn't seem like they'd be hunting mid day.

These were on the 30 acres we lease, and no other people wander around over there, so I'm confident it was not a person.

The horses just sniffed the body and walked on - I guess the dead smell doesn't really bug them all that much.

Mar. 26, 2012, 06:41 PM
LOL, I was going to reply that the "What doesn't behead rabbits" list would be shorter. :winkgrin:

Bunnies and chickens are 2 fave meals for TONS of wildlife. (and domestic life too) Both are considered very tasty. :yes:

Surprising how our horses will walk past Silence Of The Rabbits carnage and not blink and yet lose their minds over a wheelbarrow parked in a new location. :lol:

Mar. 26, 2012, 06:57 PM
but why?
are the heads especially crunchy and tasty to predators?

Mar. 26, 2012, 07:05 PM
LOL...I know, doesn't seem to make sense.

It depends on the predator. And time of year believe it or not.

Also depends on which end of the animal was left behind. Sometimes beheaded means you find the heads only and sometimes it means you find the bodies only.

When just the head is missing it's often mustelids (weasels) or coons, some raptors too. The hypothalamus is what they're after. Nobody is 100% sure the reason some predators crave that. If it's winter/early spring then it's also for removal of the eyes where there's a very small but very rich fat deposit. Prey in winter and early spring are very low on fat, predators crave it badly by that time of year. They know where to find a rich fat deposit even if it's tiny. ;)

If the head is left and the body is gone...sometimes due to the "less meat, too crunchy" issue, sometimes due to the weight and the smaller predators having to carry the groceries home/elsewhere and sometimes due to the head not fitting into burrows/dens. :cool:

Mar. 26, 2012, 07:14 PM
My hands-down vote is for owls - the larger ones like Great Horned Owls, Barred, etc. are well-known for decapitating & enjoying bunny heads. What usually happens is, since they normally devour their prey head-first, the weight of the body frequently makes it drop off, & the owl isn't interested in retrieving the dead meat.

Mar. 26, 2012, 07:16 PM
My sweet kitty likes to eat the heads off her kills, then leave the rest for the dogs. Sharing is caring, right?

Mar. 26, 2012, 07:22 PM
This is very neatly done - it looks like the head was just sliced off, and there is no blood. Does that help any?

I'm glad they are eating the (very plentiful) bunnies instead of my (only have three of them) chickens. I love my chickens.

Mar. 26, 2012, 07:54 PM
Owls will consume the head for the moisture content, since they do not drink water. When hunting for a brood of owlets, tho, they will eat the head for quick energy and then take the rest back to the nest/box for the female & owlets to consume.

Mar. 26, 2012, 08:04 PM
Bacardi1 beat me to it. Great Horned Owls.

Mar. 26, 2012, 08:08 PM
There was a barn cat at one barn I worked at that seemed to take perverse pleasure in leaving headless bunnies in empty stalls overnight. That was always a pleasant surprise first thing in the morning.

Mar. 26, 2012, 08:14 PM
I haven't seen an owl, but given all the other birds around, I might as well have one of those too. He could eat the woodpecker that starts at 5 a.m. EVERY day.

Mar. 26, 2012, 08:30 PM
Ooh, interesting topic. I found a decapitated bunny today, too. I've been blaming my idiot neighbour's cat.

Mar. 26, 2012, 08:34 PM
Around here the weasels always get blamed. Not sure why, just could be "farmer lore" that is passed along.

Interesting to hear of other predators that like to do that and why.

Mar. 26, 2012, 08:36 PM
I don't think we have weasels here. I could be wrong though.

Mar. 26, 2012, 08:52 PM
I agree the list of what wouldn't do it is longer. I also have a former barn, now house cat that favors brains, especially squirrel. Bleeeccchhhhhhh

Mar. 26, 2012, 08:58 PM
I don't think we have weasels here. I could be wrong though.

I was kind of surprised to learn they "were around" here. One mother cat must have found a nest, fetched one home every morning for more than a week. They were rather small, like Chipmunks and white in late winter. I thought at first they were white rabbit babies until I found a body before she skinned it. Definately weasel.

Too bad I couldn't get them first, might have had enough skins for an Ermine wallet cover!

I was quite surprised to see them, plus the fact that she was eating them, because they are predators. Meat eaters are supposed to taste bad to other predators. She was a heck of a hunter. Didn't seem to get any damage fighting them. Weasels are terrible fighters, always make me think of tiny Tasmanian Devils whirling around.

Anyway they were the first and last weasels we ever saw around here. I am sure there are more, but they are so small and quick, so we just miss them or think they are chipmunks, voles or rats.

Zu Zu
Mar. 26, 2012, 09:06 PM
Barn cats do ! :eek: no need to ask me how I know :eek: ```

Mar. 26, 2012, 09:39 PM
I can't imagine a cat leaving a rabbit in the middle of such a large open area, but our neighbors do feed a colony of feral cats, so you never know.

Mar. 26, 2012, 09:52 PM
Actually they do that KatyB. They get tired of dragging larger dead things and lose interest and wander off.

And they will drag them through large open areas. Usually while making a choked/muffled mewing noise to proudly announce to the world, "Look at what *I* killed!" Cats are funny like that. :lol:

Mar. 26, 2012, 09:58 PM
Actually they do that KatyB. They get tired of dragging larger dead things and lose interest and wander off.

And they will drag them through large open areas. Usually while making a choked/muffled mewing noise to proudly announce to the world, "Look at what *I* killed!" Cats are funny like that. :lol:

I've never had a cat do that, but ours have been more pets than barn cats, I guess. We just lost our 20something cat last Fall, and I can't recall her every killing anything at all. She did go out, but she didn't really wander.

Mar. 26, 2012, 10:00 PM
I've had some dogs that used to snap the heads off rabbits. I had a Weimaraner that I watched hunker down by a tall clump of grass. Just sat immobile. When the bunny hiding in the grass decided to move, she pounced and bit the head right off.

I was very proud of my mighty huntress, who also figured out how to kill armadillos.