Digging out

Digging out

The interesting thing about rabbits is they are meant to dig and the first worry for a new owner is will they dig out and vanish. 

Over the years our rabbits have been kept in extensive interconnected runs, but never with floors. Yes, we have had diggers - but we haven't had escapees through digging. There must be a reason for this.

If a prey animal feels trapped and in danger their instinct might propel them to dig to escape. Equally, if there is tasty grass outside the run but not within it, there is an incentive to escape. 

Alternatively, if their home is regarded as their sanctuary, a safe place, where they prefer no unexpected visitors - then digging out is a bad idea.

When our rescues were settling in they dug, they tried the boundaries until they were sure of everything. We left the digs until they got quite long, checking everyday if they were likely to escape. We found tunnel extended but didn't bob back up. Then, one morning it was all filled in - overnight!

Did they decided amongst themselves that they were putting themselves at risk digging this route? I will never know, I couldn't ask them! As I grew to trust them more after settling in I let them out to play free but they always returned to the Runaround Door they were let out of. This seemed to back up the idea it was their safe place available to them at all times.

So having had many rabbits over the years with 24/7 access to the runs with mesh skirting, we have never needed to floor them. Neither have we had a fox try to dig in as the rabbit can move away at once and be somewhere else.

We sell run floors and suggest they are pressed into the ground so the rabbits' feet don't come into contact with it, but we always recommend trying without and taking stock of what they do first.

My feeling is once the run and the links are adequate for them to consider it their 'home', and if it is moved frequently to relive boredom, then digging to escape shouldn't occur. Dig boxes and trays can be added to allow this normal expression of behaviour. But a lot of how we house rabbits is possibly based on our human fear of what could happen and we like to 'cover it' when maybe we don't need to.

Nothing wants to be trapped and if we can use a lighter touch and house more naturally is that not a better way forward?

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