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Keeping rabbits underground?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Has anybody ever done this?  Ran across this while I was researching setups for meat rabbits... http://ressources.ciheam.org/om/pdf/c08/95605275.pdf

It
makes lots of sense, seems like it would replicate their natural lifestyle a lot more than wire cages, and take care of the overheating issue in the summer.  But how would the poop work?  I've read that they tend to go in the same place, is it possible that they'd just know not to soil the "dens"?  Seems like in nature, rabbits wouldn't just be pooping all over their underground dens, but as I'm not a rabbit expert, I don't know.

Any thoughts?  Curious to hear from you rabbit keepers out there.

Living on a 6200 square foot lot with 2 young kids and way too many projects.
www.kimchilatkes.com
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Living on a 6200 square foot lot with 2 young kids and way too many projects.
www.kimchilatkes.com
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post #2 of 8

I did not read the article, but as for not pooping the dens?   lau  Mine have two story condos with half floor jump downs and they poop and lay in it on the top floor.  That is hosed out several times a day.

Craptastic.
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Craptastic.
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post #3 of 8

I don't have mine underground, but many bunnies are litterbox trained.  Bunnies are much brighter than kittens at this.

Should not be taken seriously in large doses, use as directed.
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Should not be taken seriously in large doses, use as directed.
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post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by debiraymond 

I did not read the article, but as for not pooping the dens?   lau  Mine have two story condos with half floor jump downs and they poop and lay in it on the top floor.  That is hosed out several times a day.


So do you think it is possible that breeding and domesticating rabbits has extinguished some of their natural instincts?  (Or, more accurately, traded some of those instinctual behaviors for other traits, like fur, size, and temperament...)  I can't imagine that rabbits in the wild would sit in their own poop. 

I really like the ideas that were in that article.  The underground dens would still be accessible by me, I wouldn't worry about overheating, and it seems like they'd be happier with burrows to retreat to. 

If some can be litter trained, maybe some breeds are better than others?

Living on a 6200 square foot lot with 2 young kids and way too many projects.
www.kimchilatkes.com
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Living on a 6200 square foot lot with 2 young kids and way too many projects.
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post #5 of 8

I wasn't able to open the article but it would be interesting to see what the method is and what its long term success is over a period of years.   

Most of the even somewhat successful underground "warrens" require a lot of very hard labor and much expense initially for them to be set up properly for healthy, adequate (and individually) controlled meat rabbit management, and many set ups still need to utilize wire cages on the outside that are connected to buried pipe tunnels which connect the individual doe living areas and nest areas. 

Wild rabbits have access to many underground tunnel areas of their choosing for bathroom use...something that, if left up to domestic rabbits, would likely end up meaning that there wouldn't be adequate access to the kits and therefore a lack of adequate health and breeding management, and in limited and controlled underground environments, vapors would be my concern...along with access.  Reaching into holes to pull up rabbits and check nests and kits regularly is not easy.  Also, most wild rabbits have litters just a few weeks apart and most of their kits do not live beyond a few weeks old, which would be disaster for someone trying to raise rabbits for meat use.   

If it's a communal type set up on the top level instead of each doe kept individually in warrens of their own, in my research few have had long term success in production because of health and management difficulties...some have had good longer term results in above ground only communal set ups if bucks are housed separately for breeding control.

As a young child one my elderly best friend had an underground communal set up for his meat rabbits, using pipes and large pots or block areas to keep them contained.  Over the years of working with his set up it was pretty much a disaster in results as far as meat rabbit management and survival was concerned.  Mine in cages/hutches as a young child had a much higher survival rate, but I think his method could have worked very well with a better constructed underground set up for individual does without the communal society on the top level.  They stayed very cool underground in our heat here but many less survived his underground set up. 

Individual cages can be built for around $15-20 each and a stand mister costs about $10 which can cool the air around many cages...compared to perhaps at least several hundred (for a few rabbits) to several thousand dollars to build a healthy underground environment...if cost is a factor at all. 

The underground set ups surely provide nicer temps year round.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by oaklandmama 
Quote:
Originally Posted by debiraymond 

I did not read the article, but as for not pooping the dens?   lau  Mine have two story condos with half floor jump downs and they poop and lay in it on the top floor.  That is hosed out several times a day.


So do you think it is possible that breeding and domesticating rabbits has extinguished some of their natural instincts?  (Or, more accurately, traded some of those instinctual behaviors for other traits, like fur, size, and temperament...)  I can't imagine that rabbits in the wild would sit in their own poop. 

I really like the ideas that were in that article.  The underground dens would still be accessible by me, I wouldn't worry about overheating, and it seems like they'd be happier with burrows to retreat to. 

If some can be litter trained, maybe some breeds are better than others?


Ok i opened it and read it.  The italian set up with wire external cages and an internal underground chamber would work, *but* you'd need to litter train them to use a pan in the outdoor wire area to spare the internal chamber.  Now the pair I picked up from debi a week ago, are already box trained (but the doe, Death, keep looking for a way to hop up to a level that's not in her new cage roll ).  Since they're angoras (raised for wool) no digging in dirt for them.  I don't know that it would be very cost effective, it talks about it being a method for rural families, the idea being that it would be cheaper for them to DIY than to build a seperate rabbit barn.  Now to be fair it's 3AM, so i maybe missing some key element.

Should not be taken seriously in large doses, use as directed.
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Should not be taken seriously in large doses, use as directed.
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post #7 of 8

I had a mother and 4 kits that I kept in a large dog kennel that was just set on a dirt floor with a dog house, and they made tunnels under the dog house and kennel area.  It was really neat to see, and I think they were the happiest rabbits I ever owned.  I was surprised that they never tried to tunnel their way out of the enclosure.  I believe they were holland lops----but it's been a long time since I had them.  If I ever have rabbits again, that is how I will keep them.  To my knowledge, they didn't relieve themselves underground at all--------had 2 corners in the kennel where they did that.

Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Mommy to 4 dogs; 5 cats; 3 pygmy goats; 3 pot belly pigs; 40 chickens; one Giant Rainbow Plated lizard; and one beautiful blue and gold macaw!!l
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Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Mommy to 4 dogs; 5 cats; 3 pygmy goats; 3 pot belly pigs; 40 chickens; one Giant Rainbow Plated lizard; and one beautiful blue and gold macaw!!l
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

I knew you BYCers could help me think it through.  I know wire cages is the standard, but it does seem a little less "natural" to me, I'd love to figure out a way to let them have something closer to what they'd naturally create for themselves.  We're about to do some major grading in your backyard so I wonder whether it wouldn't be very hard or expensive, since we're moving a bunch of dirt around already.  wink  I'll definitely post some pics if we do it!

Living on a 6200 square foot lot with 2 young kids and way too many projects.
www.kimchilatkes.com
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Living on a 6200 square foot lot with 2 young kids and way too many projects.
www.kimchilatkes.com
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