It can be frustrating when rabbits dig in their cages…
Bunnies are also often awake early in the morning or late at night.
This is why you’d catch them digging so early or so late at night while you’re asleep.
This digging noise caused by the cage can be unbearable for some light sleepers.
But at the same time.. you’d wonder why your rabbit is digging in their cages.
Let’s dig out the reasons together by reading on:
- 17 Reasons why rabbits dig in their cage.
- When should you get alarmed by this behavior.
- 13 Ways to stop your rabbit from digging in their cage.
- And much much more…
Why do rabbits dig in their cage?
Rabbits dig in their cage because they’re bored and want to get out. Digging keeps them entertained. Sometimes, rabbits dig because of their natural instincts. Rabbits are burrowers that live in their burrows for safety and comfort.
17 reasons why rabbits dig in their cage
#1: They’re trying to make a nest
If you own a female rabbit…
They might start digging when they’re pregnant.
Digging for a nest is part of a rabbit’s maternal instinct, according to research.
Rabbits will prepare for their nest as soon as possible.
Even if your rabbit isn’t pregnant…
They can go through “pseudopregnancy”.
This is also known as “false pregnancy” or “phantom pregnancy”.
Fact: The clinical term for this condition is “pseudocyesis”.
While this happens to humans… rabbits can also experience it.
Though it’s rare among wild rabbits…
Around 20% of domestic rabbits can experience this condition.
Based on a study, pseudopregnancy in rabbits can last for 16 up to 18 days.
During this period…
A rabbit’s hormones will cause physical and behavioral changes…
This includes triggering a rabbit’s maternal instinct… such as digging.
You might also like: 11 Surprising Reasons Why Rabbits Move Their Bedding
#2: To stay active and fit
Rabbits are active animals, they are always on the move.
Unlike other prey animals…
Rabbits don’t like staying in one place for too long. It’s dangerous for them.
They also need to be active to stay in shape…
Bunnies can’t laze around and be overweight.
It can be bad for their legs and make it difficult to escape predators.
Plus… rabbits are also crepuscular animals.
This means they are more active at dusk or dawn.
While most people are still asleep… rabbits will be busy doing things during those hours.
#3: They want to escape their cages
Rabbits might also want to leave their cage for many reasons.
Though it can be an obvious fact that they want to leave…
Only a few can understand why rabbits don’t want to stay in their cages.
So why would they want to escape?
Here are 5 possible reasons why a rabbit wants to escape their cage:
- Their cage is dirty.
- Their cage is too small.
- They don’t have enough food.
- They don’t feel safe inside the cage.
- They feel lonely without a companion.
There are more reasons that can make a big want to leave their cage…
But we will explain more about that in the following sections.
#4: They don’t feel safe in their cages
Rabbits are sensitive to many things including loud noises.
Even the slightest sound can make your bunny feel afraid…
Based on a study, a rabbit can hear 360 hertz up to 42,000 hertz.
This is twice the amount of hertz that we humans can hear.
It explains why rabbits can feel unsafe in their cage if their environment is noisy.
This can lead to digging to release stress as a distraction.
Your rabbit might dig in their cage as an attempt to escape to a safer place.
If your rabbit lives with other animals…
The other animals can make rabbits feel unsafe in their cages.
For example, a cat or a dog can approach while they’re inside the cage…
Your rabbit will have nowhere to go if they feel threatened.
Rabbits are prey animals after all.
Digging is a way for them to escape predators in the wild.
#5: To keep their nails short
A rabbit will also dig in their cage to trim their nails.
In the wild… digging is a rabbit’s main way of trimming their nails.
Rabbits are herbivores that don’t need long or sharp nails.
In fact… overgrown nails can hurt them.
Warning: Overgrown nails can make it painful for them to hop around. They might also scratch their skin by accident.
You can tell if it’s time to trim their nails when it’s showing out of their fur.
Trim the nails as soon as possible and do it at least every 3 to 4 weeks.
#6: To make a comfortable spot
Rabbits might dig for a place to sleep.
In the wild…
Digging the ground will make the spot cooler.
The soil underneath is cooler than the soil on the surface…
Rabbits can apply this behavior indoors.
They can be picky with their spots and want a comfortable place.
Rabbits will also dig their cage to “organize” their cage or make it cooler for them.
#7: They’re feeling curious
Rabbits are curious animals…
They always want to check their environment.
Bunnies would dig in their cage to go out and investigate…
They’re like little furry detectives.
This behavior is part of a bunny’s natural instincts.
A rabbit’s strong senses fuels their curiosity and thirst for adventure.
This is why keeping a rabbit inside a cage all day long can be a bad idea.
Bunnies will “protest” by digging if you leave them caged for too long.
#8: Their cage is dirty
Rabbits are clean animals…
They’re praised for their hygiene.
A rabbit can get grumpy if their living space is dirty or messy.
They like being clean as much as possible.
If their cage doesn’t make them comfortable…
A rabbit would want to leave it and dig in their cage to escape.
#9: They smell something unpleasant
If you can’t see any dirt in their cage…
Your rabbit might be smelling something unpleasant.
Like dirt, rabbits can’t stand strong, unpleasant scents.
Remember.. a rabbit’s sense of smell is twice stronger than ours.
Even if you can’t smell anything…
Your rabbit can smell those scents.
Even if the scent is far from their cage… they can get bothered by it.
#10: The temperature inside their cage is too hot or too cold
Rabbits can tolerate the cold…
But they won’t do well against strong heat.
Bunnies already have thick fur that can make them feel hot.
If it’s too hot in your rabbit’s cage… they will dig in it to get out.
And while rabbits can tolerate the cold…
Extreme cold can also make them feel uncomfortable in their cages.
Note: An ideal room temperature for rabbits should be around 60 to 65 Fahrenheit (15 to 18 degrees Celsius).
Check out this article: Why does my rabbit shake?
#11: They want more food
You might think that rabbits don’t need a lot of food…
But some rabbits can have a big appetite.
Sometimes… a rabbit will dig in their cage if they want to ask for more food.
They need to feel satisfied before they can relax inside their cages.
An adult rabbit that weighs around 6 to 10 pounds (2 to 4 kilograms) needs to eat one-quarter cups of pellets daily.
#12: Your rabbit is asking for attention
Rabbits can learn that making loud noises can get your attention.
This is why they will dig to wake you up…
Or to simply make you notice them.
Rabbits are social animals. They love and need interaction.
Since they can’t bark or meow like other pets…
They’ll do what they can to get your attention like digging in their cage.
It’s like their way of saying, “I’m right here! Do you hear me now? Come play with me, let me out.”
#13: They dig for fun
A rabbit will also dig in their cage for fun.
Even if they have other things to do…
Some rabbits will choose to dig because they enjoy it.
Digging is one of their natural hobbies especially in the wild.
It helps keep them occupied and stimulates their mind.
#14: They feel sick
Rabbits aren’t as vocal as other animals you can raise.
Being quiet animals… rabbits can only express their pain in certain ways…
This includes digging in their cage.
If your rabbit used to be normal but picks up a digging habit out of nowhere…
It’s a strange behavior that could hint at an illness.
Sometimes, their pain won’t be visible to our naked eyes.
Rabbits could be suffering from a disease inside their bodies…
Acting strange is their only way to express their pain to make you notice.
#15: They feel lonely
Rabbits are social animals that live together in groups.
According to a study, they live in burrows together with their colony.
This is why digging is part of a rabbit’s natural instincts.
If your rabbit is healthy, well-fed, and given enough attention…
Your rabbit could be longing for a companion.
Bunnies should come in pairs.
So if your rabbit is single…
They might want a partner or a good friend.
#16: Your rabbit is stressed
Stress is not good for a rabbit… it can affect their behavior in many ways.
Rabbits can get stressed by many factors.
Here are 9 factors that could stress out a rabbit:
- Loud noises.
- Other animals.
- Unclean environment.
- Not having enough space.
- Not getting enough attention.
- Hormonal changes if not spayed/neutered.
There could be more…
But these are the common reasons why a rabbit can get stressed.
When rabbits get stressed, they’d dig to keep their minds off of it.
It’s also their way to express their unhappiness.
Warning: If your rabbit is digging because of stress, it can get dangerous. Stressed rabbits might end up depressed. When depression strikes… a rabbit’s life can be at risk.
Note: A depressed rabbit might also start digging in their cage. They will keep digging even if it hurts their paws. Rabbits can develop self-destructive behavior when stressed and depressed.
Continue reading: 19 Alarming Signs That Your Rabbit Is Stressed + What To Do
#17: They’re bored
Rabbits will dig in their cage if they’re bored.
Boredom is the most common reason why rabbits do it…
It’s all thanks to a rabbit’s active personality.
Their strong sense of smell and hearing will keep them alert and curious…
At the same time, rabbits love to have fun and go on adventures.
How do I stop my rabbit from digging in the cage? 13 tips
#1: Get them a companion
Rabbits that feel lonely will dig in their cages…
As a solution, you can get another rabbit as their companion.
When your rabbit finally has someone to play with…
You can expect some of their problematic behaviors to mellow down.
Read next: How to reduce stress in rabbits?
#2: Make sure their cage is clean and warm
Rabbits will tolerate their cages if it’s clean enough for them.
If the temperature inside their cage is also ideal…
They won’t have any complaints.
#3: Give them enough food
A hungry bunny can be a grumpy bunny.
Make sure your bunny gets enough food to please their tummy…
Otherwise… they will start being noisy!
As noted earlier, an average rabbit only needs to eat one-quarter cups of pellet per day.
#4: Leave them treats to chew on
To make sure that your bunny’s entertained…
Consider leaving them small bits of food as a treat.
Not only will this make them happy…
But it will also ensure that they’re not hungry.
#5: Give time for your bunny to dig outside
You can consider taking your bunny outside to dig for fun…
Digging is part of their nature.
It’s important to give your bunny a chance to do it.
Once they’ve had enough…
Then they can go back to their cage to rest.
#6: Make an alternative digging box
If you don’t have land for them to dig…
You can make a digging box for your bunny.
If you’re in a rush, you can also buy a sandbox for them.
Make sure the soil or sand is deep enough for them to dig and enjoy.
You can watch this video for ideas:
#7: Trim their nails
Rabbits might dig if they feel uncomfortable with their nails…
You can give it a trim or take them to the vet for safety.
#8: Spay or neuter your rabbit
Digging can also happen because of hormonal issues in your bunny.
A vet might recommend spaying or neutering them…
Take your bunny to the vet to make the best choices.
#9: Give them enough attention
If your rabbit misses you… they might start digging for attention.
So… you can try to please your bunny by making sure you spend enough time with them.
Cuddle times or play times…
Any simple interaction or fun activity can please your bunny.
#10: Keep them away from loud noises
Loud noises can trigger fear in rabbits.
Fear might make them start digging.
To help your rabbit stay calm…
Make sure they’re far away from loud noises.
#11: Give them more time to roam outside
Rabbits love freedom.
They don’t like being stuck in one place for too long…
So make sure you don’t keep them caged too much.
Let them enjoy their time outside before putting them in their cages.
#12: Take your rabbit to the vet to check for illnesses
If you think your rabbit’s digging behavior is strange…
Then it might be best to take them to the vet.
Your rabbit could be sick and need immediate help.
#13: Buy them toys to play with for entertainment
If you’re busy and leave the house often…
Your rabbit can get lonely and develop a digging habit.
Consider buying toys that can keep your rabbit happy.
There are many rabbit interactive toys you can find in pet shops.
Why do rabbits scratch the bottom of their cage?
Rabbits scratch the bottom of their cage because there is not enough space for them. Scratching is their way of trying to make more room. It’s also a way to show unhappiness. Too much scratching can be a sign that your rabbit is in distress.