why do rabbits dig holes in the ground
Rabbits sometimes live in warrens, also known as dens, unlike hares like jackrabbits, which do not live in burrows. Cottontail warrens are usually borrowed from other animals such as woodchucks, according to Penn State Agricultural Sciences. The warrens consist of several tunnels with many exit and entry holes for quick escape. In each warren there are places for babies, living, bathroom and sleeping. Just like most humans, rabbits are particular about keeping an organized and clean home. Often times, such an underground home results in sink holes or a destroyed lawn. Rabbits usually live in small groups and will cover a span of 10 acres of living space. Cottontails who can t find an existing warren will use any source of coverage they can find. Often this results in having rabbits living in garages, wood piles, compost piles, or anywhere that they can find coverage and protection from predators.
Rabbits and digging go together like dogs and barking; itБs just something that many rabbits do. Some rabbits dig more than others, and no dirt is needed to dig. Rabbits can make the dig motions anywhere. Why do rabbits dig? You canБt really expect an answer from your bunny, but you can make an educated guess. One reason probably accounts for most rabbit digging, but a few other reasons also exist. You might have guessed that instinct drives a majority of rabbit digging.
Most rabbit species in the wild live in underground burrows that they dig. A notable exception are cottontail rabbits, which live in nests rather than burrows. Burrows provide some safety from predators and extreme temperatures. A group of burrows where numerous rabbits live is called a warren. All domesticated rabbit breeds are descended from the European rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus ), which burrows, so your bunny pal has burrowing in his or her genes. At first, digging might seem cute. Your rabbit might paw at the carpeting, couch cushion, your bed quilt, or other household item or furnishing. This is unlikely to harm anything unless you let it continue or encourage it. Repeated digging can cause damage to items. Digging is also a reason that adventures outside in an exercise pen or other containment must always be supervised. You donБt want your rabbit to dig under an obstacle and escape. On the plus side, because rabbits enjoy digging itБs a great way to offer them exercise and enrichment. If you have a safe outdoor space with dirt available, such as a fenced-in backyard or safe outdoor area for an x-pen, then supervising your bunny for outdoor playtime could lead to dig-time. You might also offer a dig box for your rabbit. This can be large-scale like the size of a sandbox for children, or just a high-sided plastic container or sturdy cardboard box thatБs at least twice the size of your rabbit.
Experiment with БfillingsБ to find what your rabbits like best, as long as the filling is rabbit-safe. Crumpled paper, heaps of hay, clean dirt, small pieces of fabric that lack any nap, and biodegradable packing peanuts are some fillings to consider. Be sure to keep the box clean, removing any soiled items and completely cleaning it regularly. Beyond instinct, digging might just be an expression of your bunnyБs thoughts. Curiosity, boredom, stress, fear, wanting attention, seeking a cozy spot to lounge in Б any of these and more could be some of the less common reasons why a rabbit digs. To know whatБs going on, take your cue from whatБs happening in your furry friendБs life. Has anything changed in the environment? Have there been any changes in the household Б more people or less, more pets or less? Are you interacting with your rabbit a lot more or a lot less than usual? A young rabbit is more likely to chew things, dig, and spray than an adult rabbit. In the book БExotic Pet Behavior Birds, Reptiles, And Small MammalsБ co-author Teresa Bradley Bays, DVM, states that rabbits who scratch at the floor might do so to get attention or be picked up. Although rabbits are hard-wired to dig, people who share their lives with them might not be fans of the behavior. If you want your rabbit to stop digging, what can you do?
The behavior probably canБt be eliminated, but minimizing it is possible. Your best ally in the battle against digging is distraction. When you see your bunny digging, call out his or her name to get your pal to come to you, try starting a game or just stomp your foot on the ground at least several feet away. Use the foot stomp as a way of communicating, not to scare your rabbit, so stomp just enough to make a noise. A treat is another distraction, but beware offering too many in one day and unbalancing your rabbitБs diet. Another way to distract your pal is to offer him or her safe digging options to enjoy. The dig box mentioned previously is one option. Another is to provide grass mats specifically made for rabbits for your bunny to rest on, dig, or chew as he or she wishes. These are available at pet supply outlets and some rabbit rescues that sell supplies. If the digging seems obsessive, it might be time for a veterinary visit to rule out any possible medical issues. Also, obsessive digging could occur if a rabbit is not spayed/neutered or if he or she doesnБt get enough time to free-roam a bunny-safe area outside the cage. The rabbits subreddit at Reddit, an internet discussion site, includes numerous posts about digging. This has comments about spayed/neutered rabbits that are digging at carpeting.
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