It’s fairly common knowledge that deers are herbivores. For those that don’t know, that means that they predominantly graze on vegetation.
Their digestive system is designed to be apple to process plants incredibly well and can get every last little bit of nutrition from said plants.
Much like cows, they actually have four different stomach sections for such a specialized diet.
So, upon learning this information, the question of whether deer eat rabbits may seem a little redundant. Surely not, right?
Wrong. Actually, we’re hearing more and more recently about sightings of deer tucking into meat.
And that meat includes little bunny rabbits…sorry.
With that being said, there’s never been any evidence that a deer has hunted or killed any animal.
So, it’s not so much that a deer will go out of its way to pray on a nearby bunny, but rather that if they happen to stumble upon an already dead carcass, they’re likely to make the most of the free food source, and give it a try.
Let’s take a closer look at the eating habits of deer.
Deer Eating Rabbits
So, as I mentioned above, there is evidence of deer eating rabbits but there is no evidence of them hunting them.
And these recordings and pictures have definitely left a lot of people wondering why they would ever choose to chomp down on something that just really isn’t part of their natural diet.
There are two main reasons that are debated as to why this happens.
Some believe that deer are attracted to the meat itself for its nutritional value while others believe that it is actually the guts of the rabbit that draws in the deer.
A rabbit’s guts would contain much of the plant matter that is more typical to a deer’s diet.
Regardless of which theory, it would seem that deer are definitely adapting their diet in an opportunistic manner.
Essentially, all this means is that when a new opportunity arises for the animal to increase their chances of survival, they take it.
And considering that there will be an abundance of rabbits within a deer’s habitat, this would make logical sense.
Are There Any Benefits Of Meat For Deer?
Since a deer’s digestive system is specifically designed for processing plants, you may be wondering why a deer might eat meat or if there are even any benefits to doing so.
Well, the first thing you need to remember is that vegetation tends to be seasonal. In the winter we see all the leaves fall from the trees after all.
So when all that vegetation disappears during this month, a deer’s typical food source actually becomes fairly limited.
If they are to stumble upon a carcass during this time, it would first of all, just be a source of food for the animal.
And the meat is also going to contain minerals and nutrients which will be beneficial as breeding season approaches.
Deer Eating Animal Meat
It could even be argued that the rise in sightings of deer eating animal meat could even be at the fault of humans.
We are well aware that we are responsible for deforestation and the dissolution of their natural habitats.
And thus decreasing their food natural food sources.
This means that not only just deer, but all animals within these habitats are fiercely competing for the vegetation that is left for their survival.
Perhaps we have pushed or forced these creatures into having to adapt their natural eating habits.
Are Deers Predators?
Absolutely not. You could spend your whole life in a deer’s habitat and you will never witness a deer stalk or attack an animal with the intention of eating it.
It quite simply is not in their nature.
To start with, deer do not have the vital senses needed to prey on other animals.
Nor do they have the body shape to do so, or even the natural instinct to do so. In fact, deer are actually preyed upon rather than a predator themselves.
Deers are more often described as scavengers, and decent ones at that. They go out looking for natural food sources to placate a hungry stomach.
So What Do Deers Eat?
Okay, so, deer have been known to consume other small forest animals along with rabbits such as birds or squirrels, for example.
But again, this is usually when they stumble upon a dead and discarded carcass.
It is fairly safe to assume that it would appear that a very hungry or starving deer is likely to consume pretty much anything it stumbles across providing that it is edible.
In fact, there has even been footage of deer eating the remains of other deer carcasses too.
However, none of this is really part of a deer’s typical diet. For the most part, you’ll find that deer prefer to munch on leaves, fruits, bark, and berries.
Their diet is predominantly vegetation and natural resources, as we have mentioned above.
There you have it, despite being natural herbivores with stomachs specifically designed for digesting plants, deer do eat rabbits.
As we have learned from this article, they do not do so intentionally. There is no evidence of deer tracking, hunting, or killing prey.
And in fact, they don’t even have the physical capabilities to do so. Their bodies and instincts just aren’t built to be predators.
With that being said, they are great scavengers and clear opportunists.
If they are trekking through the forests and happen to stumble across a dead carcass, it is likely that they will attempt to consume it.
This has been seen with many forest creatures, and even other deer.
And in fact, a 2017 study even showed the creatures consuming the remains of a decomposing human body.
So while they will not actively attack to kill and consume, most deer will eat pretty much any variation of meat that they happen to stumble across during their travels provided they are hungry.
Though with all this being said, their diet does appear to still be predominantly vegetation and these occasions of meat-eating are far and few between.