Rabbits sometimes dig furiously, but they can also be significantly more gentle about it, especially when digging blankets while you cuddle together. At times, a blanket digging rabbit may seem to be breading or kneading like a cat.
However, the instinct comes from burrowing rather than feeding behaviors. Why do rabbits dig at blankets?
Rabbits dig at blankets to make themselves a more comfortable and safe place to lay down and sleep. The soft feel of the blanket is nice under your rabbit’s paws. Digging is an instinctual behavior that rabbits do as an expression of curiosity, boredom, stress, fear, wanting attention or wanting to escape from predators.
Why Does My Rabbit Dig Blankets
Your rabbit digs blankets because it’s in their nature. Digging, for a wild rabbit, is a way to make a home or set up a space to have babies.
It is also an excellent way to get comfortable, alleviate boredom and find quiet security away from prying predators.
Different types of digging indicate what’s going through your rabbit’s head at any time. Whether they want the world’s coziest snuggle or a place to escape the dog, you can often tell by the location of the blanket and the urgency they display while digging.
Below are 6 of the most common reasons rabbits dig at blankets:
1 – Instincts & Digging-As-Burrowing
Rabbits are diggers by instinct. They burrow to escape danger and make extensive underground homes.
Additionally, since they lack hands, digging and clawing, or sniffing and biting are the easiest ways for rabbits to experience the world around them.
Although digging is the root behavior, most blanket digging probably is not about burrowing. Sadly, that is oversimplifying.
Rabbits are smart enough to realize they’re not going to build a home out of blankets. When they claw at the floor or the bottom of a hutch, that’s true digging-as-burrowing behavior.
Meanwhile, if your pet is on the couch and they dig into the blankets, they’re probably looking for a nice cuddle or something else.
2 – Fear & Hiding
When rabbits get scared, digging is the go-to reaction. It doesn’t matter whether there was a loud noise outside, or the dog came over and invaded their space, rabbits are easily frightened.
Being jumpy, no pun intended, is a survival strategy for rabbits. They react without thinking to save their own fluffy cottontails.
A startled rabbit can certainly run to a blanket and try to dig in. Primarly if there’s not a better option around, then this type of blanket digging is a smart option for your scared bunny. Be patient and comfort them.
3 – Tired Rabbits Need Naps
Sleeping in blankets is a delight for sleepy bunnies. Your rabbit will probably dig around a bit to find the best place to nap.
Likewise, they will need bedding in their cage for longer periods of sleep. Blankets are a good option as long as they aren’t threadbare or easy to trap claws inside. I recommend seamless fleece, especially in winter.
As Rabbit Care Tips explains, “Blankets and towels are great additions to a rabbit’s home. Just avoid old, threadbare blankets with holes as paws can be trapped. Ensure your pet is not swallowing large amounts of fabric. Do not wrap your rabbit in a blanket. She may feel trapped and panic, potentially leading to injury as she tries to escape. Lay a blanket or towel down and let your rabbit arrange it as she sees fit.”
4 – Curiosity
Rabbits experience the world through their noses and our blankets often smell like people or various scented detergents.
Digging around doubtless releases more of that scent, though not enough for a human to ‘scratch and sniff.’ Some bunnies dig at blankets to explore them because they are naturally curious creatures.
5 – Playing With You (Lap Blanket)
Rabbits, like dogs, will sometimes bait their humans into playtime. A dog may run up and act wild, but a rabbit is a bit more subtle.
They will dig at a blanket you’re using and show you that they are feeling energetic and ‘request’ playtime. Watch out for gentle playful nips to help clue you into this behavior.
6 – Misbehaving Intentionally For Attention
Is your rabbit being really wild? Does it seem like they want to tear up your favorite blanket, or anything they can get their claws on with their overenthusiastic bunny digging?
Unfortunately for the linens, this might be precisely what they have planned. Rabbits act out. Often this comes out as destructive behavior and digging at a blanket can fall into that category.
Digging At Blankets vs Burrowing
Burrowing is a natural, instinctive action for rabbits. After all, digging in the earth makes homes that are safe from most predators. Some blanket digging comes from this basic bunny instinct, but not all of it.
Rabbits are more complex, intelligent, and thoughtful creatures than we often realize. They know the difference between a blanket and the earth or floor underneath them.
Blanket digging is typically more nuanced and comes from a greater motivation than standard burrowing even though the root of the pattern comes from wild rabbits digging warrens.
Rabbit Digging and Biting Blankets
If your rabbit is digging and biting, it is slightly different from other blanket diggings. As bright creatures, rabbits understand more than we often give them credit for, and they have many ways of communicating with us.
A rabbit who digs and bites a blanket you have on your lap is either anxious or showing you affection. Either way, try giving them some comforting pets.
Alternatively, a blanket elsewhere, like the floor or back of a chair where no one is sitting makes an easy target for bunny wrath.
Rabbits can be about as intelligent as three-year-old children, and like those late-stage toddlers, they have tantrums.
A bunny feeling ‘big-mad’ may even dig and bite at a blanket you like in an attempt to rip it up. Watch out for thumping or foot-stomping as another sign that they are upset.
Helpful Tips To Know About Why Rabbits Dig At Blankets
Because rabbits are smart, it’s not always immediately apparent what’s going on in their heads. When your bunny is digging at the blankets it can be cute, or frustrating, but they probably know which effect they are having on you either way.
Here are more helpful tips to know about why rabbits dig at blankets.
- Letting your rabbit dig on blankets can help them move past aggressive dominant behavior by providing a healthier outlet for those emotions.
- Rabbits have a very clear hierarchy in warrens, and the top bunny may feel you owe her affection, thus she digs blankets for attention. As BunnyHugga explains, “…when it comes to simple interaction with our rabbits, we are included in the hierarchy. Most top bunnies see themselves as superior to us and request grooming from us in the same way they would from another rabbit. Others may groom their humans by licking their hands, feet, and face but this is more likely to be a sign of affection rather than an acknowledgment of inferiority.”
- Digging on your clothing is not the same as blanket digging. Rabbits have sensitive noses, and they often dig on human clothing to indicate that it has an unpleasant odor. Don’t get mad at your bunny. Their sense of smell is twenty times stronger than yours, so a minor scent to us is an overwhelming stench to a rabbit.
When your rabbit starts digging at the blankets, they are probably searching for a better snuggle, the perfect nap, or a few head scratches.
However, you should pay close attention to their body language and urgency. If the room was calm and suddenly became hectic, they may be feeling afraid, and they’re digging for safety or for some reassurance from you.
Meanwhile, a bunny who has just woken from a long nap in your lap might give a little dig to try and prod you into action.
They want to play with you. However, blankets that aren’t near you are probably being targeted for other reasons, like misbehavior.
Luckily, with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to quickly spot your pet’s intentions and maybe even save a few blankets from accidental damage in the process.