Rabbits dig instinctively to make a home or a scratch to impress a mate, among other reasons. For domestic bunnies, the most important thing is to express their instincts safely in their own space.
The nature of your rabbit isn’t going to change, so understanding it can help you redirect destructive digging. Why do rabbits dig in their cage?
Rabbits dig in their cage as a destructive behavior when they feel stressed, afraid, or bored. This simple, instinctual activity offers the rabbit comfort and helps them have a comfy, safe place to sleep. The rabbit is doing what nature has told it to do. It keeps them occupied and entertained.
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Your rabbit digs in his cage because it’s in his nature to dig. That’s why rabbits have wicked claws on their feet, powerful muscles for digging, and dense fur that doesn’t let debris in easily.
In the wild, your fluffy pet would make his home in the dirt by digging out a burrow.
Digging is a default behavior for many rabbits. They resort to it out of instinctive urges or to distract from other things that are happening. In a cage, the instincts have to go somewhere.
As a result, your rabbit will try digging at the bottom of his cage, which can be loud and infuriating at times.
Show your bunny some patience. If you can discern the exact reason your pet is digging, you’ll be able to redirect the behavior in a more productive direction.
1 – Instinctive Burrowing
Most of the time, you will be able to figure out what caused your rabbit to start digging in its cage. Unfortunately, there are occasions when it simply doesn’t make sense.
Your bunny may be just doing what nature tells it. Instinctive burrowing is how wild rabbits make their homes, and domestic rabbits share the same genetics despite being spoiled and beloved pets.
2 – Sorrow & Loneliness
You probably know that rabbits are not solitary animals. Even the most fantastic pet owner is still not another rabbit.
Unless your pet is an utterly content house rabbit who has free roam of an entire home and lots of attention whenever it wants, then your pet may be feeling a little lonely. Sad rabbits sometimes dig for distraction.
As Bunny Advice explains, “Giving a rabbit a friend of its own species is beneficial for health and well-being. Wild rabbits live in large social groups called colonies, and pet rabbits also crave companionship. A bonded pair of rabbits will groom each other, eat and play together and cuddle next to each other for warmth.”
3 – Boredom
Rabbits are smart. They may not be poodle and border collie smart, but they have very active minds and need to play.
More importantly, they need to have toys to self-entertain, interact with you and other rabbits and find challenges and enrichment activities to participate in.
A bored rabbit can easily revert to digging to occupy its time and mind. You can try offering bunnies a blanket or grassy area to dig for fun, but also look into expanding their play options.
4 – Amusement
Sometimes your bunny just thinks it’s funny to dig. They may find it enjoyable, satisfying, or otherwise stimulating to dig at the bottom of their cage even if all their other needs are met.
It is, after all, a part of their DNA to dig burrows, scratches, and warrens.
Likewise, the bunny may be baiting you. Some rabbits crave a lot of attention and amusement from their people.
If thumping and head bonks fail to get you to pet and play with them, then more drastic measures could be part of their bunny agenda for amusement.
People often respond and react to digging, so the rabbit is getting the attention and entertainment they want when you come running.
5 – Nesting
Female rabbits build nests before they give birth. They will create a soft bedding area and even pull out their fur to line it, so the new babies are comfortable. However, some females will take it a step further.
A pregnant rabbit digging on the bottom of her cage may be feeling nervous and seeking a way to make a space underground for her young.
Try reducing bright lights, loud noises, and other stimuli in the area where she lives. If you have pets, small kids, or other noisy, raucous activities near your rabbit hutch, do whatever you can to redirect the action elsewhere.
Taking the time to make sure her nest feels calm and safe will leave you with a grateful and ultimately less stressed mother rabbit.
Happily, that could lead to baby bunnies that thrive more easily. Plus, she’ll probably stop trying to dig her way through the cage to find another place to raise her kittens.
6 – He’s Trying To Impress A Girl
Male rabbits don’t dig as deep, especially in warm weather. In nature, they will create shallower impressions and then urinate in them. This scent marking is the rabbit equivalent of posting a dating profile. He’s looking for a mate.
Once your male rabbit has created his scratch, he will lay in it. This behavior may sound unsavory to us, but it’s the thing to do for rabbits.
So when your male rabbit is trying to claw up the floor of his cage, he might just be telling you that his hormones say he needs to impress a girl.
Helpful Tips To Know About Why Rabbits Dig In Their Cage
Rabbits have all sorts of great reasons to dig, like creating shelter and finding a place to have babies. Whatever the motivation, it’s essential to understand that digging is part of what rabbits do. It’s normal for them.
Here are more helpful tips to know about why rabbits dig in their cage.
- Rabbits need exercise. Your cage floor digging pet may be attempting an escape. Try letting them out more frequently to stretch their legs and hop around. It will be good for them, even if it turns out this isn’t why they’re digging this time.
- All rabbits are timid by nature. Their shyness helps to keep them alive in the wild. When a bunny digs a hole to live in, they also provide a reasonably secure spot to hide when they feel afraid. If the area where your rabbit lives is too bright, loud, or otherwise alarming to them, they might be digging to escape and hide.
- Your domestic pet doesn’t stop having the instinct to dig because you provide for them. Even when they understand they don’t need to dig, it’s part of their bunny nature.
The sound of rabbit claws digging on the bottom of their cage isn’t exactly pleasant. However, for rabbit owners, it’s a common occurrence.
Rabbits dig to entertain themselves and get their minds off of upsetting things. They also dig to make a home, find a mate, have babies, or just get away from where they are.
Don’t worry if your rabbit starts digging at their cage but pay attention and ensure their needs are met. A bored, sad, or scared rabbit will often dig more.