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Rabbits dig. This isn’t a behaviour you can train out of them – it would be like trying training to train a dog not to sniff on walks – practically impossible, unnecessary, and kinda mean.
But what you can do, to ensure your carpets are keep (largely) claw-mark free is invest in a digging box. And by invest, I’m not talking life savings here – our dig box was free.
***DISCLAIMER*** I cant promise that giving your rabbit a dig box will stop them chewing up everything you own. Rabbits gonna rabbit.
Why do rabbits need a digging box?
There are three main reasons that it’s good to give your rabbit access to a dig box, two of which are pretty straightforward, the third being just something I’ve observed – it may just be something my rabbits do.
1 – Dig boxes provide enrichment for rabbits
Like I said, digging ispart of being a rabbit, and giving your bun a box in which to dig in is a great for their mental health.
It also reduces the risk of them getting bored and setting their sights on that delicious-looking corner of the sofa.
This is especially important if you only have the one bunny – it can keep them occupied for HOURS. Although so can a humble hand towel in Holly’s case. I’m not complaining.
2 – Dig boxes can reduce vet visits
The two things you’re mostly likely to need to seek veterinary help for are clipping nails and checking teeth.
Digging frequently can keep your rabbit’s nail worn down BUT you still need to check them. It’ll depend on how much digging your rabbit does and what you put in the dig box.
Dig boxes also probably won’t have much of an impact on your rabbit’s back claws.
If your rabbit is a chewer, dig boxes can keep their teeth nice and short. I highly recommend putting lots of wood in the dog box to encourage a lot of chewing.
3 – It helps them let of steam
Well, I think it does anyway. I’ve had several fairly moody rabbits that like to get in the dog box and rips everything to shreds.
Interestingly, all of my moodiest and happiest rabbits have been female. All the boy have just been pretty chill. The girls are either super friendly or mad as hell, and the boys have hovered in the middle.
What to use to make a rabbit digging box
It depends on a couple of things: your rabbit’s preferences and your budget.
We’re lucky enough to have cardboard shredders (rather than eaters) so we use an old cardboard box for a dig box.
If your rabbit is likely to eat an entire box (been there) it’s best to use either a plastic or a wooden box. Wooden boxes are the best, but they’re more expensive, and you’ll need to check that that wood hasn’t been treated with anything.
Plastic is FINE. Pick up something cheap or repurpose a box you already have. As long as it’s sturdy enough that your rabbit can’t eat it, it’ll do.
Wood is the best option – if you can find an untreated wooden box, that’s perfect for a dig box. You see, rabbits like to gnaw on stuff that won’t move – which is why they prefer your bookcase to those chew toys you bought specially.
A sturdy wooden box is a great way to redirect that sofa-shredding energy.
What do you put in a rabbit digging box?
Again, it depends.
If you’re worried that your rabbit will eat cardboard, then don’t put it in. Get one of those hard cardboard tubes (link in the photo caption above) and then use more natural things – hay, straw, sticks…
There’s a company that sell these meadow squares in the UK – their products are available in the US, but I couldn’t find the exact product.
Since my rabbit doesn’t eat cardboard, that’s mainly what we use in her digbox:
We also use the packaging that Amazon use to pad their stuff. Just be aware – it’s pretty noisy when they’re ripping it up.
Do rabbits like to dig in sand/soil?
Rabbits like to dig in anything, I think. They ain’t picky.
But I don’t recommend that you use sand (or anything with small particles) in your dig box because it can end up getting into your rabbit’s digestive system and causing impaction or even GI stasis, both of which are potentially lethal.
Even if that wasn’t an issue, think of your poor vacuum (and carpets). There would be sand/soil whatever EVERYWHERE.
Speaking of vacuum cleaners that are worthy of picking up hay, I really recommend our current one, which is a Shark one (we didn’t fork out for the anti-hair wrap technology because I’m cheap, but I have long hair and I’ll probs regret that). We got ours from Amazon and it always seems to be on sale. Whoop.
If you already have a fancy vacuum and don’t want to ruin it with hay, a lot of people recommend getting a cheap-ass shop vac.
Is it ok for rabbits to eat cardboard?
This is one of those topics on which there’s always a tonne of horror stories if you search for them.
My view is this: it’s ok if your rabbit eats cardboard (provided it doesn’t have any ink/adhesive on it) but it isn’t ideal, and it isn’t great of they’re chowing down on a couple of toilet roll tubes per day.
So keep an eye on them, and limit cardboard if they’re actually eating it.
Seagrass is an alternative, and you can get mats and blankets pretty cheap.
How deep do bunnies dig?
Pretty deep – another reason you shouldn’t give them soil – they can end up getting trapped.
If you’re planning on letting your rabbit dig in your garden, expect holes as deep as 18 inches, though I’m sure some will go further.
Having said that, one of my rabbits was a prolific digger in a dig box, but when I took her outside to play, she didn’t dig at all – she was far more interested in eating grass and dandelions.
How to stop rabbits peeing in their dig box
First, identify anything that’s making them think it’s a litter box i.e. hay. Remove.
If your rabbit likes digging in the hay, then either don’t bother with a dig box and let them dig in their litter box (you may need a high sided one if hay’s flying everywhere) or give them two litter boxes with digging capabilities.
Just be grateful they’re peeing in a box. Although you may need to switch to plastic if it’s wood/cardboard.
Dig boxes aren’t always necessary. Some rabbits are perfectly content with their regular toys and zooming around the room, but they’re a nice addition to add a bit of enrichment to their environment.