Almost all rabbits dig holes as a safety measure in the wild.
This could be to protect themselves from various potential dangers, such as predators and bad weather. Female rabbits also dig holes to give birth and be safe from predators.
This instinctive quality is also present in domestic rabbits, even if they don’t have space to do so.
Therefore, this article discusses in detail why rabbits dig holes and what you can do to deal with this behavior among pet rabbits.
5 Main Reasons Why Rabbits Dig Holes
It’s important to discuss this behavior in the context of wild rabbits.
This way, we can understand from where it stems.
Here are the main reasons why a rabbit digs holes.
Create Safe Areas to Retreat from Predators
Rabbits tend to become prey to large animals such as wild dogs, feral cats, birds (falcons, owls, eagles, etc.), and more.
Therefore, they dig holes and create burrows so that they may retreat from predators when chased.
Rabbits don’t climb trees quickly, so having quick access to a hole/burrow gives them a safer alternative.
Create a Place of Shelter for Various Activities (Sleep/Rest)
Rabbits can become targets of a hunt at any time. They are likely to be more vulnerable when they’re eating or sleeping.
Thus, these small animals choose to do such activities in the safety of a burrow. Larger animals won’t be able to fit into these spaces, keeping the rabbits safe.
It Provides a Safe Space to Give Birth
Baby rabbits and their mothers are also at great risk of being attacked by predators.
That is why rabbits choose to give birth in the burrows.
It Offers a Sense of Privacy
So, much like humans, rabbits also like to have some privacy.
Burrows offer that when they’re sleeping, eating, or giving birth.
They only really exit the burrows to search for food.
Rabbits continue to dig holes to make many burrows within a small area.
These burrows are then connected to create warrens. Warrens act as passageways and places of shelter, as mentioned above.
Rabbits are territorial animals. Thus, they overlook the area where their warrens are. They also look for food in that area.
Also, male rabbits typically protect the warrens and the others inside them.
Create a Place of Shelter from Bad Weather
Rabbits often stay within their warrens when there’s heavy rain or the temperatures are freezing.
Thus, it’s a means for survival from harsh weather conditions.
Reasons Why You Should Let Your Domestic Rabbit Dig Holes
Now, it may seem pointless to let a pet rabbit dig holes.
This is because none of the reasons above may apply to them.
However, there are some benefits, as explained below.
It Helps Keep Their Nails’ Length in Control
Rabbits’ nails continue to grow, and they can become uncomfortable if not at an appropriate length.
Moreover, they can hurt you as a pet owner if you’re not careful.
Letting your rabbit dig holes can help them manage the length of their nails.
However, considering the infrequency of the activity, digging holes alone may not be enough to control nail length, so you need to take care of them if needed.
Consult Your Vet before Trying to Clip Your Pet’s Nails
In that case, you should clip your rabbits to keep them healthy and yourself safe. Speak to your vet about how often you should clip the nails.
Moreover, ask them for the appropriate tools and methods of the process.
Rabbits Enjoy Digging Holes
Rabbits also enjoy digging, domesticated or not.
So, you should try to encourage this behavior for the overall better mental health of your pet.
Play is an important part of keeping your pets healthy.
Also, rabbits have a lot of energy. So, help them use that to enjoy their time with you as much as possible. A tired rabbit is more likely to sleep well.
What You Can Do to Let Your Rabbit Dig Holes
There are a few ways you can let your pet rabbit dig holes. Here are some options to consider.
Let It Dig Holes in the Backyard
The backyard is a great place to let your pet rabbit have its fun.
The backyard offers a lot of space for it to explore and play.
Be Careful Not Let It Damage Your Yard
Your pet rabbit could damage your property if you’re not careful.
You may find holes all around your backyard that could ruin months of yard work.
Designate a Space for It to Dig
A simple solution to keep your yard in control is to designate a specific portion of your backyard for it to dig.
A sandbox could be the perfect solution.
Be Careful Not to Let Your Rabbit Escape by Digging Burrows
The other advantage of using a sandbox is that you won’t have to worry about it creating escape routes.
So, a common concern with backyard digging is that rabbits dig deeper holes than you may think.
They may dig a burrow that eventually leads to the other side of the fence. So, your pet rabbit may escape from your property without you realizing it.
It may be quite difficult to find it in that case.
To add to that, domestic rabbits don’t have the necessary skills to survive in the wild.
Other than running into potential predators, your rabbit may be exposed to toxic plants.
Some homeowners also set rabbit traps to keep their gardens safe from burrows.
Your rabbit could be harmed if it went there. So, never risk your rabbit creating holes into unknown territory.
Monitor Your Rabbit’s Play Time in the Yard
Regardless of where you let your rabbit play in the backyard, monitor all of its movement.
If you let your rabbit out of your sight, you could risk it being attacked by a predator.
Birds, squirrels, or cats could have easy access to your unsuspecting rabbit.
Therefore, always be in close proximity to your pet rabbit when it’s in the backyard. Your presence should keep predators away.
Make a Special Digging Box
Now, every rabbit owner may not have a backyard—let alone equipped with a sandbox.
In that case, you can make a special digging box for your rabbit instead.
You don’t need many materials for it, and you won’t need much space. So, you can expect it to be a cost-effective solution.
Here’s how you can make one.
Use a Cardboard Box
A cardboard box is a simple and effective solution for a digging box.
Just make sure that it’s large enough for your rabbit to explore and dig.
Fill the Box with the Right Materials
The best thing you can fill your cardboard box with is hay. Rabbits will love digging through hay, and it makes cleaning up quick.
You could also consider different types of paper. So, you could place yellow pages for your rabbit to tear up with its teeth and claws. After that, it can dig through it.
If you have shredded paper lying around, you could use that too. However, when using paper, try to use some that don’t have ink on them.
You don’t want to expose your pet to any potentially toxic substances.
Consider a towel as another alternative.
Moreover, you could use soil, but it can become quite messy. In addition to that, it may encourage your rabbit to dig in your garden when it plays there.
Avoid Using Certain Substances
Don’t use clay, sawdust, or sand in your rabbit’s digging box. This is because these substances can irritate your rabbit’s nose and eyes.
In addition to that, don’t use rabbit litter. You should only use that when your pet has to go to the bathroom.
It’s best not to let your rabbit associate play with litter. This is because they may then start digging in their litter box.
So, it could dig up litter they’ve urinated in, which could result in urine scalding on its belly.
Also, this could cause the entire hutch to become smelly.
Place the Box in an Appropriate Location
The best place to keep the digging box is in your rabbits’ hutch. The reason for this is that it allows your rabbit to play when you’re not present.
Rabbits are highly energetic animals, and they need to play and exercise often. Moreover, they wake up early in the morning and sleep late in the night.
So, the digging box will give them something to do when you’re asleep.
Consider Making Two Digging Boxes
It can help to make two digging boxes. You could then place one inside their hutch and the other outside where they play.
This way, your rabbit can have fun where they go.
Moreover, you won’t have to move the digging box around.
Last Few Words
When you keep animals as pets, it’s best not to let them deviate from their instinctive habits.
Instead, try to make them feel comfortable without letting certain behaviors get out of hand.
With your pet rabbits, try to make them continue digging in a controlled environment.
You could use your backyard or make a designated digging box. On the other hand, you could buy a grass mat if you want to save time and effort.
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