Heron Eats Rabbit

Wildlife photographer Ad Sprang snapped these shots while shooting in Vianen, Holland as seen in the Telegraph.

Due to Andrew's irrational yet understandable love of fuzzy little rabbits, all the pics can be found below the fold...

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Shoutout to Nick "Cop-Killer" Van Der Horst for bringing these pics to our attention!

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I think the most impressive, or scary (?), part of that story is that the heron *knew* it had to drown the the rabbit.

By NoAstronomer (not verified) on 31 Oct 2008 #permalink


By natural cynic (not verified) on 31 Oct 2008 #permalink

I once watched a black-crowned night heron eat a pretty big fish. The fish was alive going in and you could see it flopping inside the heron's neck as it went down his throat.

I used to raise rabbits when I was a kid. That series of photos was like a trainwreck. Couldn't stop looking at it, despite the horror. I kinda hate you for posting that.

By Rogue Epidemiologist (not verified) on 31 Oct 2008 #permalink

Damn rabbits have been destroying my garden. How can I encourage this kind of bird to eat my rabbits?

note to self: read post titles before clicking around for pictures.

note to self: don't assume all bunny pictures are cute.


That was an awesome series of shots!!
I've seen a blue heron around here chasing a muskrat, but didn't catch it. Hopefully the day it does I'll be around to watch!

How does a heron catch a rabbit anyway? Was this rabbit unusually slow and/or "special"?

The drowning bit impresses me. Do we have any idea about the intelligence level of herons? Do they have a general instinctive mechanism for making land animals stop moving by holding them under water?

I'm not sure how much intelligence that takes. 'Being underwater too long = death' is something that most airbreathing animals have hopefully got a handle on by now, and any animal that lives near the water will likely have seen various species drown before. The connection isn't difficult to make.

I don't know any wild rabbits that are that color. I have a feeling that this rabbit was stunned and thrown in the heron's general area.

Ugh...all I could think about was in 5th grade when we disected owl pellets for shrew bones....and this is just large scale...

John P: "Damn rabbits have been destroying my garden. How can I encourage this kind of bird to eat my rabbits?"

Put a pond into your garden and stock it with goldfish. Or koi or something like that. After the herons have been by and eaten all your fish, perhaps they might go after your rabbits.

By Paul Clapham (not verified) on 03 Nov 2008 #permalink

I doubt the drowning bit. A wet rabbit would go down easier than a dry one, so it seems to me the heron simply made its prey more slippery. Or it might just have dropped the rabbit in the water and picked it up again. They're not that intelligent.

ı don't know any wild rabbits that are that color. I have a feeling that this rabbit was stunned and thrown in the heron's general area.

I agree with mr 20, this looks like a domestic rabbit...

By josh dent (not verified) on 29 Nov 2009 #permalink

I, too, have experienced the heron's interest in young rabbits, about 8 years ago whilst walking along the North Esk in Angus, Scotland. In that spring there was an absolute carpet of rabbits along the river bank and I heard the familiar scream of a baby rabbit. On looking across the river I saw a heron with rabbit in beak just taking off. The heron was only a couple of feet off the ground when the rabbit fell to earth, hopped a few times and resumed grazing! I had thought it unusual and imagined that the heron was just fed-up with the little pests disturbing him and wanted to make a point!

By Virginia Aspinwall (not verified) on 18 May 2010 #permalink

I would have shot it. Hate those damn birds, I see them trying to get koi from my pond during the summer.