Why do rabbits dig holes in your yard and in their hutch?
In the wild, rabbits dig holes to create shelter, somewhere safe from predators, and even to give birth.
Our domestic bunnies don’t necessarily need these things, but digging for them is still fun and stimulating.
Why Do Rabbits Dig Holes?
There are a number of reasons why your rabbit might be digging holes in your yard.
Rabbits dig holes to create dens and warrens. These are safe spaces that can offer security from predators, a cool temperature, somewhere to sleep, and somewhere to give birth.
Lots of rabbits also just enjoy digging! It can be quite a stimulating behavior for many bunnies, even our domestic pets.
So, if you don’t like your rabbit digging in the yard, it’s a good idea to create a digging box for them.
We’ll take a closer look at this towards the end of the article.
Do Wild Rabbits Dig Holes?
Digging is a natural behavior for domestic rabbits as well as the wild European rabbit that they descend from.
In fact, digging is vital for the survival of wild European rabbits. They dig warrens and live in large groups inside these warrens.
Warrens are a series of connected burrows that can offer wild rabbits safety, security, somewhere to sleep, and somewhere to give birth.
Wild rabbits are more vulnerable to predators than our domestic bunnies. So, digging nests, burrows, and warrens offers them a safe retreat from predators.
Do Rabbits Need to Dig?
We might think that our domestic bunnies don’t need to dig. After all, they don’t have the same needs as their wild counterparts.
Domestic rabbits are safe from predators, they have comfortable places to sleep, we can keep their homes at a proper temperature, and we can control when they breed – if they do at all.
But, digging is a natural behavior. As well as these purposes, it can be stimulating for rabbits to dig, and offers some great exercise.
If your rabbit doesn’t have somewhere they can dig, you might find that they dig things you’d rather they didn’t.
Many owners consider their rabbits to be destructive diggers. But, it’s a very natural behavior.
If your rabbit is scratching and digging at hard surfaces in your home, their hutch, or the ground when they are outside, they may benefit from some time to dig in a safe area!
Do Rabbits Enjoy Digging?
Most rabbits enjoy digging! So, it’s a great idea to find a safe place for them to practice this behavior.
Digging provides rabbits with mental stimulation, and exercise to keep them in tip top physical condition.
On top of this, digging a little hole or burrow can make rabbits feel secure and comfortable.
If your rabbit is feeling anxious from perceived threats, or they are overheating in hot weather, digging helps them to calm down and cool off.
So, although digging isn’t necessary for the survival of domestic rabbits, it is great for their mental wellbeing and happiness.
Should I Let My Rabbit Dig?
If you have a yard, it is a great idea to choose a safe area for your rabbit to dig. But, make sure you keep a close eye on your bunny so that they stay safe.
Make sure no predators can get them, like birds or cats. Make sure they can’t eat anything they shouldn’t, and that they can’t dig their way out of your yard.
Not everyone has a yard for their bunnies to dig in. But, this isn’t the end of the world!
There are options for you, even if you don’t have a yard or a safe outside area for your bunny to dig.
Digging Box for Rabbits
Instead of letting your rabbit dig outside, you might choose to make a digging box for them.
Simply get a large box that has plenty of space for your rabbit to move around in, and fill it with a bunny-safe material that they will enjoy digging.
Lots of rabbits also enjoy shredding things. So, filling options include: dirt, paper, hay, paper bags, towels.
Avoid substances that could irritate your bunny, or that are known to be unsafe to rabbits.
Why Do Rabbits Dig Holes? A Summary
Digging is a natural behavior for rabbits, both wild and domestic. It creates somewhere safe for them to sleep, give birth, and shelter from predators.
Digging is also a great form of exercise for your domestic rabbit.
If you don’t have a secure yard, you can make a digging box for your rabbit instead!
Does your rabbit love to dig holes?
More Great Rabbit Guides
- Why Do White Rabbits Have Red Eyes?
- Why Do Rabbits Lick Things?
- How Big Do Lionhead Rabbits Get? Your Lionhead Size Guide
- Why Do Rabbits Scratch The Ground?
- Why Do Rabbits Thump?
References and Resources
- Crowell-Davis, S. ‘Behavior Problems in Pet Rabbits’, Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine (2007)
- Gonzalez-Mariscal, G. & Rosenblatt, J. ‘Maternal Behavior in Rabbits: A Historical and Multidisciplinary Perspective’, Advances in the Study of Behavior (1996)
- Roony, N. (et al), ‘The Current State of Welfare, Housing and Husbandry of the English Pet Rabbit Population’, BMC Research Notes (2014)