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Predator attack

This juvenile wild rabbit was found after a Common Buzzard was disturbed and flew into a tree that was close by. The body was warm and limp indicating that the rabbit had only just died. There were no visible marks or wounds on the body.  After the skin was partially removed, four small tears were found that penetrated either the thorax or abdomen. One of these had caused substantial haemorrhage. These marks were consistent with wounds inflicted by talons. There was more severe damage internally.

Rabbits have many predators that can kill them quickly. Injuries that are sustained in an attack by a dog or a fox are usually obvious. The rabbit is usually picked up and shaken and dies instantly from a broken neck or a crushed chest. Injuries from smaller predators such as weasels, stoats or ferrets may only be found duringĀ post-mortemĀ examination. There may only be some small puncture wounds around the neck. It is important to remove the skin and examine the underlying tissue carefully. The predator may attack more than one rabbit in a household so the owner may suspect infectious disease or poisoning.