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Small pets

Digging rabbits.

14 replies

Honeyroar · 11/07/2018 23:40

We've become bunny owners in the past few months. Initially we had a male bunny but got him a female companion, we've been very lucky that they've integrated and bonded easily. They are currently in a 4-5' X 8' run, with attached coop (actually an eglu for hens) which we've moved around the garden so they have plenty of grass. But the female digs for fun. Initially I thought it was when the grass was getting low, but they're currently in a corner where the grass is lush and 6" high and she's almost dug out (I think the ground is softer there). We're in the process of building a huge 12' square enclosure at the end of the garden to be their permanent home. Is there any way of making it dig proof? At the moment we've put a piece of the steel mesh we've bought to make the fence underneath the run to stop her digging but I'm worried it can't be nice for them underfoot for them. If we put it down in the new enclosure and let the grass grow through (if it ever rains so the grass grows!) it would be OK. Another option is some grass mats that we have for the horses - rubber mats with big holes so the grass grows through, with wire inside the rubber. I'm just wondering if they'd chew it. I'm thinking of making something she can dig in with a base, that I can put soil in (small wooden barrel full of soil?) once they're in their enclosure.

Sorry for the long post!

OP posts:
bunnygeek · 12/07/2018 13:33

For the moving run, it's going to be tricky to rabbit proof and not damage the lawn/rabbit's feet/your back trying to lift it around.

For the more secure area I would recommend digging the whole area down by a couple of inches, laying a good quality welded mesh that can stand the weather, fix the edges to the base of the run, then fill back in with earth and lay with turf. She'll still dig but you can sleep well in the knowledge she won't escape!

Is she spayed? Unspayed does will dig even more.

BlackInk · 12/07/2018 13:48

Bunnies were born to dig!

If you don't have the time, energy or money to dig out the area and line it with mesh as suggested above - and then maintain it - could you put the new enclosure on a hard area or line it with paving slabs? A hard floor is so much easier to keep clean and you can add digging boxes for the rabbits to enjoy. Could they then have supervised free roaming in the garden when you're there to watch them and a totally safe enclosure.

FedUpLetDown · 12/07/2018 13:52

Is she neutered? My buns practically stopped digging once neutered. Otherwise a big, low, cardboard witg a couple of exit points at the side and fill with packed, damp sand or soil. They can dig a proper little warren then.

Honeyroar · 12/07/2018 17:16

Thanks all. Yes I realise they are diggers, I just don't want to lose them!

She's not neutered yet, it's on the to do list when the weather and flies calm down in a couple of months. That's good to hear that it may help.

We keep moving the run around the lawn, it looks like a pitch and put!

Yes I think we will have to lay the steel fence or grass mats on the floor in the new enclosure and grass over it. I'd really like them to have a grass floor if possible. In winter they can go into a stable if it gets wet/cold/muddy.

Thanks for your thoughts and ideas.

OP posts:
Honeyroar · 12/07/2018 17:18

Ps, I'd love to free range them in the garden, but the fence is not secure enough, we have three dogs and two cats, plus the female rabbit is shy and runs away from us, I don't think we'd get her back in!

OP posts:
TimeIhadaNameChange · 16/07/2018 18:43

We used these in my rabbits' pen. Dp dug out the entire thing, put these down and then put soil, and grass seed on top. He also curved chicken wire from the sides underneath them by about a foot.

We had a few spare grids which we use as stepping stones to get to their hutch, and they also allow the grass to grow a bit. The rabbits have been in their pen a year, now, and they haven't, yet, managed to dig their way out.

Deucebumps · 16/07/2018 18:47

We stapled chicken wire to the underside of our rabbit run, he's not a massive digger but we didn't know that when we got him! It lets the grass grow through to eat and also stops anything else digging in to get him- hungry foxes or wild buns!

NewElthamMum13 · 16/07/2018 23:23

Our rabbits have mostly loved to dig and it is nice to see them enjoying this natural behaviour. I surrounded their run with paving stones (just plonked some old paving stones directly on the ground around it) and then when their burrows started to extend that far, I put wire mesh on the ground going out about 1.5m on the side they dig. Fortunately this is next to my compost heaps, so no need for it to look nice. I just dumped some earth on top of the wire mesh and left it to settle. We have a very active fox population so the wire is definitely needed.

Bunnies are in approx 10' x 6' run which they share with chickens. All get on well. Actually we only have one bunny left now, though all have reached good ages. As she's a lone rabbit I feel it's more important to her to have an interesting habitat, and the digging gives her an interest. She's over 5 and I don't want to get any more rabbits at the moment, so I didn't get her a companion when the last one died. She does interact with the chickens though.

Honeyroar · 16/07/2018 23:38

That's really interesting that you've got her in with hens. My hens have an enormous run and id seriously considered putting them in with the hens but I thought that the hens would attack them (they really laid into a pheasant that got in the run once, I think they'd have killed it if I hadn't got to it, it was pecked to bits.

Timehadanamechange that is very like the grass mats we have in the gateways, only its rubber not plastic.

We've ordered some more steel grills that we're using for fencing in the new run. We will put it over the ground/grass and then put soil on top to level it off and make it more comfortable for them to run/lie on. Hopefully it will work.

OP posts:
NewElthamMum13 · 17/07/2018 00:20

I was surprised that the rabbits and chickens got on so well. Initially I just put the rabbits in that run as an emergency measure when there was a problem with their original run. I put a couple of old chimney pots in, and a house that the rabbits could get into but the chickens couldn't. Chickens have a house which is above part of the run. This set up allowed the rabbits to have a safe retreat from hens. As it turned out, they all got used to each other quickly so the temporary arrangement became permanent. In the winter, the rabbits often go up the ramp into the chicken house at night, presumably to sleep somewhere warmer!

TimeIhadaNameChange · 17/07/2018 09:03

We've also had hens and rabbits together and they've mostly got on fine. If I remember correctly, one rabbit got pecked at first, but not enough to draw blood (probably just in response to their wanting a nose rub) and it soon settled down. In total we had about 13 years of free-ranging rabbits and hens with no real problems, other than the garden getting ruined! The hens are now in a pen at the bottom of the garden and the rabbits in another. Suspect they're all rather miffed but at least they're safe. (Whilst the hens remained in the garden the rabbits would dig themselves out into the wild beyond, which really wasn't helpful!).

bunnygeek · 17/07/2018 13:22

It's generally recommended to NOT put them with chickens. There is the risk of pecking, and getting chicken muck stuck in their fur.

Synecdoche · 17/07/2018 13:31

Can you give her a sand pit or dirt box in her run for her to satisfy her digging urges?

NewElthamMum13 · 17/07/2018 15:31

It's generally recommended to NOT put them with chickens. There is the risk of pecking, and getting chicken muck stuck in their fur.

Yes, I was concerned about this, which was why it was supposed to be only a temporary measure. However, we had no problems with pecking (apart from the odd initial exploratory one), no problems at all with droppings, and rabbits seemed delighted by the set - up. They seemed to find it interesting to watch the chickens, too. I think it's been 2 or 3 years now, so if there were to be any problems I'm sure they would have emerged by now. We even have a small cockerel in there - a Pekin bantam - and while he clucked a bit at rabbit, free settled in well. My chicken run is a good size for the number of birds in there, though, and I wouldn't be so confident if they were overcrowded.

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