Should You Let Your Rabbit Burrow? Why They Do It And What It Means

Deepthi Reddy
Jan 24, 2024 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Nov 09, 2021
Fact-checked by Niyati Parab
Young rabbits coming out of their hole
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.8 Min

Isn't it intriguing to know that rabbits have ever-growing teeth, just like our fingernails?

They can see 360 degrees and can turn their ears to a full 180 degrees. They are extremely alert and have qualities like all-around vision, sharp smell and sharp hearing as defensive mechanisms.

Rabbits were initially classified as rodents due to their chewing and breeding habits. Later they were reclassified as lagomorphs due to their unique teeth structure, like their inside curled incisors; and their digestion structure. Rabbits have a life span of about 10 years based on their breed and living conditions. They are better off living in inside spaces without the stress of predators, and domestic rabbits live longer than wild rabbits. Outside living conditions like widely varying temperatures make them more prone to diseases and illness. Spaying the rabbit also increases longevity significantly.

Rabbits are herbivores, and their diet is primarily rough foliage. Ideally, 80% of their food should be hay, though a popular myth is that they feed mostly on carrots. Vegetables and fruits are treats, with only a handful every day, and should not be a staple food. Their teeth often get subjected to considerable wear and tear due to the type of food they eat. This is the reason they have ever-growing teeth, like our fingernails. Another interesting feature is they eat their own poo to get enough nutrition and to aid in digestion! They also consume a large quantity of water.

Rabbits are social animals and can get very depressed if they are alone. They make good family pets as they display a lot of affection by licking humans or other rabbits. When rabbits are happy, they jump in joy, which is called a binky. The high energy and love are expressed in binkies and happy head twitches. Often the cottontail rabbit is confused as a pet breed though it is a wild species. Rabbits live alone in abandoned burrows or warrens made by other animals or make their own burrows. To protect their young ones, they simply dig small nests as shelter.

If you enjoy reading about rabbits, then you can find more fun fact articles like the rabbit bite and the Flemish giant rabbit lifespan on our website.

Just how deep do rabbits burrow down?

Rabbits are social animals living in groups that live in burrows rather than dens. They dig a network of burrows underground which are interconnected. These tunnels are called rabbit warrens and aid their living in groups. Female rabbits are called does, and they dig additional tunnels as they nest.

Rabbit burrows, also called rabbit holes, are generally about 4-6 in (10- 15 cm) wide and can go at an angle as deeply as needed. Some wild rabbits can dig tunnels as deep as 10 ft (3 m) below the surface. When living in large colonies, these burrows can span up to 150 ft (46 m).

What does a rabbit burrow look like in the ground?

Rabbits are very territorial and fiercely defend any intrusion into their groups of burrows. In some species a single female rabbit has a separate chamber in the burrow to eat, rest, and sleep. She mates with other male rabbits when she wishes to. Female rabbits in some species mate for life, and the pair makes a separate burrow for the two of them nearby other rabbits. They raise their young ones in their burrow until they are big enough to be independent. When the female is ready to give birth, she creates a small, separate space for the bunny with soft grass, hay, and fur to line the nest and camouflages the smell of the newborn with her fur as a protective mechanism against predators.

Different species make different types of rabbit burrows. Some burrows are majestic, with separate houses for females and newborn bunnies. Each burrow usually has a main entrance, although it can have more than one entrance with or without a dirt mound at each opening. Though a rabbit burrow appears like a simple hole near the entrance, on the ground, it may lead to a complex set of chambers deep inside. Each chamber inside could be 1-2 ft (0.3-0.6 m) in height, and a tunnel of burrows, called warrens, are built inside. The nest created for bunnies is generally deep inside, well insulated, and built for the comfort and protection of the bunny. Rabbits make holes underground in a garden or forest where the soil is soft or in the sand.

What does a rabbit do with the dirt from its burrow?

The mother rabbit often only builds a good nest for its newborn and does not care for the newborn after. The newborn is blind and deaf and highly vulnerable, and easy prey to predators. The mother rabbit usually abandons the baby and only comes for a few minutes to feed the child during the night. The father rabbit is more responsible and guards the burrow against any attacks.

A wild rabbit is adept at making a burrow which is beneficial in many ways. In this process, rabbits consume some of the dirt. This helps them improve digestion by giving them the right bacteria, improving immunity, and making them less prone to diseases. Pet rabbits show similar behavior by digging soil and consuming dirt.

Scene of a wild rabbit in a burrow

Why does my rabbit burrow on me?

The size, shape, and color of rabbits can vary widely. Usually, on average, a rabbit can weigh anywhere between 6-10 lb (3-4.6 kg). The smallest Netherland dwarf rabbit can be 1.1–3.5 lb (0.50–1.59 kg), and the largest rabbit, a Flemish giant rabbit, can weigh as much as 22 lb (10 kg). They are open to training and can be litter trained. They can be friendly pets and are a good company to family members.

Rabbits are like digging machines, and making a burrow is a typical sign of their breed. The instinct of digging to build burrows and warrens is in their DNA, so much that even pet rabbits are obsessed with it. They often try to find ways to continue their digging and chewing activities even at home. As part of that, they may dig on your lap, chest, legs, or clothes to try and burrow, which may indicate that you are smelling and need a shower. Digging can also be a sign if the rabbit is in a playful mood or wants to attract a doe that is nearby. Additionally, it is possible that the rabbit may be trying to get your attention to convey that it may be suffering from some pain or infection.

What is a rabbit burrow made of?

It is mistakenly assumed that rabbits are nocturnal as they usually sleep a lot during the daytime. They stay in their burrows during the night. Their best active time is dawn and dusk to be safe from predators. The twilight time can be an easy escape from wild animals who prey on rabbits.

A rabbit burrow is made in the ground . Rabbits dig the soil or sand to make a hole, and this can go very deep to the extent that tunnels called rabbit warrens are built. Rabbit burrow holes can have more than one entrance. Additionally, they use grass, leaves, and twigs as well as dirt.

How long does it take for a rabbit to create a burrow?

Rabbits are very clean animals and maintain their fur and body. They spend an enormous amount of time grooming and cleaning themselves. They ensure that they clean themselves thoroughly by licking their body and fur. They spend hours in this cleaning routine, which keeps them happy and tidy.

Rabbits dig burrows as an instinct and are very quick in making them. Their bodies are shaped for rapid movements, and rabbits are naturally passionate about making holes and do it very fast. Some rabbits can make several holes in a day! Though the burrow's duration is not exactly known, it depends significantly on the soil type, size, and depth of the burrow needed. Some rabbits can dig multiple holes in a day.

Problem With Rabbit Burrows

Rabbits are pets that need high maintenance in terms of time, training, and petting. Similar to cats, they need to be trained to use the litter box. Though they may not require regular walks like dogs do, care needs to be taken to make the home rabbit-proof. Being highly social, they would want your company and one way of giving them this is by petting them.

A rabbit burrow can become a menace in the backyard or garden. Rabbits can burrow anywhere and everywhere as this behavior is a typical sign of this animal. Though wild rabbits are obsessed with digging for their protection and nesting, even domesticated rabbits continue with this habit which can destroy many things like your garden, furniture, clothes, floor and walls, as well as the ground near your home.

Dealing With Burrowing

Digging behavior changes with the species of the animal. Wild rabbits make large and deep burrows. Cottontail rabbits do not make a burrow or dig holes as they manage by using burrows made by another animal. On the other hand, pygmy rabbits are so addicted to digging that they can easily create a set of holes in less than a day if they are allowed to dig even one hole in the garden.

As a first step, keep the lawn or your open area in a neat condition. It works to some extent. This may not give them spots that are conducive to making holes. You can contain the behavior of this animal by training them at a young age. Rewarding the right behavior and reprimanding them when they damage your lawn or things inside the home helps. You can control them by providing items they can dig in or chew on so as to protect your clothes and furniture.

Should I let my rabbit burrow?

Some rabbits shed and rabbits have a very sensitive digestive system and can poop a lot. Their diet needs to be well managed by not feeding them too many vegetables or milk. Their behavior needs to be kept in control. If the house is rabbit-proofed, this animal is a pleasure to have as a pet as it is a great companion.

Offering them digging space in an open area or giving them a sand-box is a good idea. Allowing them to burrow in this way is good for relieving their stress, keeping them busy and active. It is suitable for their health and digging helps in strengthening their bones and joints. It also gives them a cool place near the backyard to chill and live happily.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for rabbit burrowthen take a look at how to litter train a rabbit or rabbit facts.

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

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Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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