If you’ve watched Alice and Wonderland, you know that there is an illusion created of a big world beyond the burrow of a rabbit. The bunny holes in the movie always act as portals or entrances to new worlds, events, and sceneries. The question ‘How deep does the rabbit hole go?’ is masked with metaphors like entering a complicated journey or a new, fantastic world.
In reality, however, there is nothing rather than a hole dug in the ground. When we see a rabbit hole dug in our yards, we may begin to wonder how deep it is. Other people get agitated because rabbit burrows destroy freshly cut grass. In this text, you will get everything you need to know about rabbit holes.
All That Regards A Rabbit’s Hole
Wild rabbits are well known for burrowing in the ground. In the underground burrows, rabbits live together in colonies, primarily to stay safe. When the rabbits emerge from their holes, they are usually looking for food or wanting to exercise. Eventually, they return to their underground space. For rabbits to make their holes, they engage in digging – which is quite apparent.
The digging that the rabbit does is based on instinct. For petted or domesticated bunnies, digging is merely a recreational thing. So, your rabbit would be delighted if you got him or her a sandbox so that he can do some digging.
Apart from instincts, the digging may be paired with some form of behavior. If your doe or buck digs excessively, the chances are that he or she is stressed. The other reason for excess digging by a pet rabbit is attention-seeking. Rabbits have feelings, and when you tell them off, they will realize it. Then, their remorse will make them start digging so that they win your attention back.
Is It All Rabbits That Dig?
As mentioned previously, all rabbit breeds that have been domesticated will have the instinct to dig. This is probably something they share with wild rabbits. The only rabbit breed that is exempted from the digging is the Cottontail rabbit. This ‘special’ breed does not live in warrens, but they habituate overground nests. While the species will still engage in shelter seeking, they prefer to use holes that are already existing, such as hollow logs. In trying her luck, you will find a cottontail hiding in an already existing rabbit hole. The cottontail breed of rabbits is famous in the United States.
Rabbits do not entirely live below the ground. One of the differences between pet rabbits and wild hares is that one leaps into the underground (the rabbit), and the other does not. All domesticated and petted rabbits are kits of the European breeds. That is why your rabbit pet will express some form of wildness from time to time.
Rabbits And Digging – The Reasons Why
As implied earlier, the main reason why rabbits dig is because of a response to their instincts. Out in the wild, rabbits dig for many reasons. Apart from instincts, the following table shows the other motivations for the digging behavior in rabbits:
|Privacy and safety||Rabbits sleep and eat below the ground to avoid being preyed on by predators.|
|Building an escape place||Since rabbits find it difficult to climb trees, they would instead burrow and create a haven. When they are being pursued, the hole becomes their escape place.|
|Staying protected from other elements of nature||When it is freezing or raining, rabbits will need places to pass the time. The holes they dig serve that purpose, and the bunnies emerge after the weather has gotten better.|
The information in the table does not apply to your pet rabbit. When your bunny is with you in his hutch, he is protected from predators. Also, he has his own private space and is safe from predators.
Even when rabbits remain under the bubble of warmth and comfort, they will still get the desire to burrow. And you cannot ignore instinct as it is one powerful thing. San Diego Rabbits reports that intuition makes the digging seem and feel fun for the pet.
Is It Safe And Okay To Let My Bunny Dig In The Backyard?
Yes – yes, it is, but as long as you are doing supervision. When you release the bunny to do some free-range exercise, they will probably choose to go digging. If your backyard has flowers, be keen so that the rabbit doesn’t destroy the bed while digging. Remember, the garden that took you months and weeks to curate can get destroyed in minutes – courtesy of the rabbit.
As you monitor his digging, be aware that he may go further under the ground than you may realize. A typical hole dug by a rabbit in the wild is about a foot deep, but a determined rabbit will go further than that. Then, this could happen: your rabbit may dig his or her way under your fence. What follows is that he will do outside your compound. That is not good news since petted, and domesticated rabbits are incapable of surviving out there in the wild. They lack the life and savvy experience that is needed to stay alive and safe.
It doesn’t matter if the setting is urban. Towns have predators such as cats and foxes, and these can chase the rabbit until they pin him down. Also, some people fix rabbit traps in their compounds. If your rabbit runs into a trap, they may not live to see the next moment. Another risk is that your rabbit may get toxic weeds and plants, eat them, and, well, die.
The best thing – as implied somewhere in this article – is to create something like a sandbox. Since your pet has digging instincts, you can create a safe environment so that they embrace their entire self. Your rabbit will also not be bored as he will have some form of entertainment to hold on to.
Creating A Digging Box For Your Bunny
A digging box is an item – more like a vessel – that has material that the bunny will dig through. If you love dogs, you know that some dog owners have sandboxes to encourage their dogs to dig. That’s precisely what we are talking about here.
A consideration that you can make is this – fill a sandpit with good, ‘dig-able’ material. Ensure that the box is of the right size so that the rabbit has room to embrace their nature. The size of the box will determine where you will locate it. If the digging box is small, you can find some space for it in the rabbit’s cage. If the ‘container’ is massive – more extensive than the cage, you can put it outside. Or rather, you can build a giant cage. Here are some of the materials that you should add to the sandbox:
1. Fresh Hay Every Day – arguably, this is the best and easiest solution for your rabbit’s digging needs. Ensure that the box is filled with fresh hay. As the rabbit burrows, it will have the hay fiber to enjoy and get the energy to do its business.
2. Shredded Pieces Of Paper – Rabbits like it when they are sifting and digging through the shredded paper. If you have a shredder at home, get some old newspapers and run them through the machine. When the shredding is done, drop the pieces into the digging box.
3. Telephone Directory, Yellow Pages, ETC. – this oversized book will be a toy for the rabbit while they are in the digging box. The rabbit will claw the pages off, which is something that he will find very therapeutic.
4. Paper Bags – the one thing that rabbits like is the rustling sounds produced by paper bags. Your rabbit will find it fun to tear the bags apart. To make the exercises more enjoyable, hide treats inside each paper bag you place in the digging box.
5. Towels – if you have an old or a used towel, leave it there in the box for your bunny. The doe or the buck will enjoy bunching and scratching it. A towel is also a good option because its material, which is mostly cotton, cannot hurt the rabbit’s claws.
6. Soil – if everything else fails to work, you can use soil in the box. You are free to choose whatever type of soil you want. You should have in mind that dirt can be messy, and you may need to wash your rabbit afterward.
Although sawdust and sand are good bedding options, strictly avoid them. They have fine particles that can enter into the eyes and nose of your rabbit, making it very irritating for him or her. The irritation can lead to an allergic reaction that may explode into a fatality.
Remember that the rabbit may take the new digging box as his place of ‘release.’ If the package has too much litter, the overall item will be smelly. If the rabbit keeps on lying on her pee, she may develop urine scalding on the area around her belly.
Rabbits Burrow And Fill The Holes Up. Why?
If you’ve watched your rabbit burrow, you may have noticed a very curious phenomenon. Your pet rabbit will take their time and dig a hole. Then, they will cover it up. The question begs – what is their drive, or why are they doing it? The quickest answer is this: instinct. It is a compulsion that leads your rabbit to engage in such a phenomenon, much like what a wild rabbit would do. For this seemingly senseless and pointless activity, here are some explanations:
1. False Den – If you didn’t know, rabbits have a great mind. They are smart enough to know that predators usually check underground holes when they are hunting. So, creating the fake warrens buys the rabbits time to flee and derails any progress that the predators may have made.
2. Hiding Her Burrow – This is most likely to happen when the rabbit is pregnant or experiencing the reproductive phenomenon called pseudopregnancy. The doe will hide her kits in a shallow hole that is covered until feeding time comes.
3. Being Driven Out – the rabbit may have made the hole to use it as a warren, but something drove them out. For example, a snake may have slithered in, making it a dangerous place to occupy. So, they choose to close the hole up. A more significant, territorial, and more dominant rabbit may have found the hole and claimed it.
Rabbits And Digging In Their Cages
It would help you a lot if you did not worry about this behavioral expression, as it is perfectly natural. For the most part, the rabbit is usually doing it for entertainment. If the hutch is full of fresh hay, your rabbit will remain amused for some good time. Even if your bunny scratches until he reached the bottom of the cage, he will continue digging laterally.
As captured elsewhere in the article, make the rabbit’s digging an entertaining thing. Hide rewards and treats between the blades of the hay. When the rabbit finds one treat, they will get more purpose to continue scratching and digging. If the treats are rabbit pellets and have not been ‘discovered,’ ensure that you take them out before they become moldy.
As you encourage the digging behavior in your rabbit, you need to know the caveats that come. Think about the scratchy noises. If your rabbit’s cage is in the house, it will be incredibly annoying to listen to the noises. To deal with this issue, you need to keep the rabbit hutch outside, in a safe spot away from predators.
Always focus on the demeanor of your pet when they are engaging in their digging behavior. If they are doing it regularly, the rabbit may either be stressed or bored. If their cage is a little too small, the rabbit may be attempting to get out. As you watch your pet burrower, ensure that you take a keen eye on where the rabbit focuses its attention. If they keep on digging at one spot, make a move and block it off. If they keep digging continuously, it could be a sure sign of inactiveness and frustration.
Above all, have it in mind that digging is an instinctual expression for both wild and domesticated rabbits. Do not punish or chastise your pet when it digs up its hutch. Focus on how you can make the rabbit’s experience worthwhile.