Are Backyard Rabbits Safe To Eat


From destroying your lawn with brown urine spots to gnawing your plants down to the root, rabbits can be too big a burden to behold. Perhaps you think the best recourse for you would be to eat them. But the big question remains, are backyard rabbits safe to eat?

Backyard rabbits are edible and safe to eat, whether they are tamed or found wandering in your yard. As long as the rabbit meat is cooked thoroughly to 160-degree Fahrenheit internal temperature to remove any toxins, they are safe to eat.

The best rabbits for meat are Silver Fox, French Angora, and American Chinchilla.

Undoubtedly, your backyard rabbit’s main concern would be to eat without getting noticed or eaten. However, that does not mean that it is not safe for you, and neither should it mean you are free to dive in. Here are a few things you will have to keep in mind about eating backyard rabbits.

Eating Backyard Rabbits

If you were to imagine the sumptuous, fine eating of this cottontail, you might not want to resist.

First, rabbit meat is edible, whether your bunny is from the wild or tamed. But before you do that, it will be best to inspect whether the bunny is healthy or not.

One of the biggest concerns is the contraction of a disease called Tularemia, which can be passed to you upon touching the affected tissue or blood. Once you see any signs of this condition, avoid the rabbit. This condition is relatively predominant during cold seasons.

Usually, it would help if you wore latex gloves while gutting the rabbit. This move ensures that you do not expose yourself to any affected tissue or blood. Further, pay attention to the liver. If there are any white lesions on it, do not proceed to eat the rabbit.

Notably, there are times that you might misread the signs. In this case, ensure that you only eat rabbit meat that has been thoroughly cooked. The internal cooking temperature should be at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, your rabbit meat is safe.

Which Backyard Rabbits Are Safe

There is no denying that sometimes you will want to raise backyard rabbits for meat. If this is the case for you, ensure that you go for the best breeds.

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Usually, the best rabbits for meat would be Silver Fox, French Angora, and American Chinchilla. Besides, if you were to consider eating rabbit meat, these options should top your priorities.

  • Silver Fox: Whether you want to meat, fur, or pets, this breed will be the ultimate choice for you to raise. That they have large litters is no secret. Besides being beautiful, these rabbits assure you of not only safe but also tender meat. As long as they are healthy, there will be no reason for you to worry.
  • American Chinchilla: This breed has become relatively prevalent among people who do not put attention to the fur produced. Usually, they assure you of more than enough meat, thanks to their incredibly muscular bodies. Their sweet meat will, undoubtedly, get you smitten.
  • French Angora: While this breed is specifically for meat, its rabbits hardly come with enough meat. As if that is not enough, their fur is vulnerable to matting. That means you will need to keep brushing it from time to time. You will also need to be on the lookout for chances of getting attacked by the rabbit fever.

Here are the two incredible options from the wild.

  • Cottontail Rabbits (both mountain and desert): While they come with a relatively small stature, these rabbits have proven to be excellent delicacies. Their tasty and high-quality meat will readily get you smitten. In most cases, you can hunt them from the late evening into the night, thanks to their nocturnal nature.
  • Eastern Cottontail Rabbit: There is no denying that this is the most hunted rabbit in the US, thanks to the delicacy it provides. The cotton ball tail and the reddish-brown coat are some of the features that make this beauty distinctive. Usually, it would be best for you to hunt them at night, as they are nocturnal.

If the rabbits come into your yard during a time that you aren’t home or aren’t able to catch them, check out this cheap, effective, spring loaded trap on Amazon to setup in your backyard to easily catch and prevent them from running away.

Last update on 2024-11-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Safe To Eat

In most cases, wild rabbits come with warbles and parasites. While warbles might not pose any risk to human beings, pests and parasites could be a significant problem in the long run. For this reason, you need to be wary of rabbits that have fleas and ticks.

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Besides that, you will have to check whether the rabbit has Tularemia, also known as rabbit fever. This condition could be fatal to both human beings and pets, and immediate medical attention will always suffice.

You can only check if the rabbit has this condition when eviscerating it. During this time, you will have to confirm whether there are any pin-sized lesions on the liver. The presence of these lesions shows that the rabbit is not healthy for you.

Dangers Of Eating Rabbit Meat

From how delicious rabbit meat tends to be, to how available they are, you will hardly want to resist eating them. However, there will always be a few dangers for you to keep in mind.

Unless you pay attention to these issues, you could end up unhealthy in the long run. Here are the two main dangers of eating this meat.

  • Tularemia: You can hardly ignore the impact that this condition could have on your health. In most cases, you will contract this illness when skinning the rabbit, as it is passed upon contact with affected tissues and blood. This condition will expose you to fever, chills, and body aches. Fortunately, antibiotics will be enough to treat this condition altogether.
  • De-Populating Wild Rabbits: While the rabbit population is relatively high, too much hunting could result in some species’ decline. For this reason, it would be best for you to be cautious about when and how to hunt. Perhaps, paying attention to the state regulations on hunting rabbits could be helpful in the long run.
  • Stomach Upsets: This issue will only arise if you do not cook your meat thoroughly. Experts suggest that you cook the meat to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, the meat will be not only tender but also free from various pathogens.

Why Can’t You Eat A Rabbit In The Summer

Typically, you will be free to eat rabbit meat at any time. However, the restrictions during summer are thanks to the ease of spreading worms. Most rabbits will spread worms and parasites to other bunnies during summer, unlike when there is a drop in temperature.

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However, all you need to do is to take all the necessary precautions mentioned above. It will be much easier for you to identify the presence of worms when you do so. If you do, it would be best not to eat that meat.

Is It Safe To Eat Jackrabbits

Did you know that jackrabbits are relatively akin to cottontails? While this is so, jackrabbits are typically hares.

That means that they will hardly be safe for you to eat, particularly when not cooked thoroughly. If you were to cook it accordingly, you would have no reason to worry about anything.

With their stringy meat, ensure that you take as much time as you can when cooking it. You will also need to aim at an internal temperature of over 160-degree Fahrenheit.

This way, you will be sure of eliminating all the toxins, worms, among other pathogens, that could be on the jackrabbit.

Helpful Tips To Know If Backyard Rabbits Are Safe To Eat

One of the biggest concerns one could have is understanding when rabbits are safe for you to eat.

One of the most prominent variables to consider would be the presence of lesions on the liver. There could also be a ton of worms under their skin.

Here are a few other tale-tell signs that your rabbit is sick:

  • Be wary of sudden stasis instances, which involves digestion problems, gas, cramping, and tooth issues.
  • Check whether the rabbit’s foot is raw or inflamed. If it is, it is a sign of sore hocks. Its meat could be dangerous.
  • The presence of deerflies and ticks on the coat of your rabbit could be a bad sign. Usually, these parasites could compromise your health in the long run too.

Final Thoughts

The safety of your rabbit delicacy is all dependent on how you prepare it. From using latex gloves when handling the meat to cooking it thoroughly, every precaution will suffice.

Whether your backyard rabbit is tamed or wild, the procedure remains the same. Are you still asking, are backyard rabbits safe to eat?

Well, it is time to get yourself this delicacy, with the only catch being to observe every precaution.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>