Get your paws dirty and let your inner bunny loose! Digging is a natural instinct for rabbits that provides hours of enriching entertainment. But before you let Thumper go wild in your yard or houseplants, why not make him a designated digging box instead? In this hopping good guide, you’ll learn how to easily craft a DIY digging box perfect for rabbits using simple household materials. With just a cardboard box, some shredded paper, timothy hay and a few hidden treats, you can create the ultimate bunny paradise right in your home. Follow our burrow-by-burrow instructions to make a safe digging space where your rabbit can forage, tunnel and play to their heart’s content!
Supplies needed for a rabbit digging box
The supplies needed for making a rabbit digging box are relatively simple and easy to find. Here are the main items you'll need:
- A box or container – This can be a cardboard box, plastic storage bin or wooden box. Look for one at least 12 inches high with a floor space of at least 2ft x 2ft for smaller rabbits or larger for bigger bunnies.
- Shredded paper or cardboard – Opt for uninked paper or cardboard to avoid any potential toxicity. Shred computer paper, newspaper, toilet paper tubes, paper egg cartons, cardboard boxes or junk mail into long strips.
- Straw or hay – Timothy hay or straw works great for a natural touch. Cut or break it into smaller pieces first.
- Sand – Choose a child-safe play sand. Look for sand specifically made for sandboxes.
- Soil or coconut coir – Organic topsoil or coconut coir substrate provides a natural digging texture.
- Twigs, branches or sticks – Find safe, pesticide-free sticks or twigs from apple, willow or poplar trees.
- Leaves – Dried leaves from any pesticide-free tree add natural foraging appeal.
- Hard treats or toys – Mix in a few hard treats or small toys to reward your rabbit's natural digging instincts.
- Spoon or trowel – Use for mixing and burrowing in the materials.
The great thing about a DIY digging box is you can customize it with any safe digging materials you have on hand. Avoid anything with toxic ink, chemicals or pesticides. Focus on natural fibers, woods and sand for the safest and most appealing textures.
Step-by-step on how to make a digging box
Follow these simple steps to put together a DIY digging box for your rabbit:
- Select a box or container. Optimal size is 2ft x 2ft floor space and at least 12 inches high for small to medium rabbits. Go even bigger for large rabbit breeds.
- Fill the box with a 2-3 inch base layer of paper or cardboard strips. Shred newspaper, computer paper, paper egg cartons or cardboard into long strips.
- Add a 2-3 inch layer of straw or timothy hay on top of the paper base. Cut or break straw/hay into smaller pieces first.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of sand over the hay. Choose a child-safe play sand made for sandboxes.
- Mix in a 2-3 inch layer of safe sticks, twigs and branches on top of the sand base. Find pesticide-free sticks and twigs from apple, willow or poplar trees.
- Add a handful of treats like timothy hay cubes, rosewood sticks and oxbow fruit treats. Mix and bury throughout the materials.
- Top with a final 2-3 inch layer of leaves, shredded paper or hay for burrowing. Dried leaves, paper egg cartons, toilet paper tubes all work great.
- Use a spoon or small trowel to mix up and bury treats/toys throughout the digging medium.
- Place box in a quiet corner of your rabbit's space. Provide ample supervised play time and refresh materials as needed.
Feel free to customize and experiment with different safe natural materials for burrowing, shredding and foraging. Just avoid anything toxic or that could be ingested. Refresh and add new materials weekly to keep your rabbit actively engaged.
What kind of box to use?
There are several good options when it comes to selecting a box or container for a safe and fun DIY rabbit digging box:
- Cardboard box – Cardboard boxes, especially large appliance boxes work perfectly. Opt for single layer cardboard, not coated or treated. Remove any staples, tape or labels.
- Plastic storage bin – Look for a plastic bin at least 12 inches high and a minimum floor space of 2ft x 2ft. Make sure it has no lid or remove lid entirely.
- Cement mixing tray – A cement mixing tray makes a great indestructible digging surface. Look for larger trays for bigger rabbits.
- Baby swimming pool – For rabbits who love to dig and lounge, a baby swimming pool lined with shredded paper or cardboard is ideal.
- Wooden box or crate – Untreated wooden crates, boxes or a DIY wooden frame box make charming rustic digging containers.
- Litter box – A basic plastic litter box can work for smaller rabbits. Just add a few inches of digging material.
Avoid any boxes, containers or materials with harmful chemicals, toxic stains or residues. Also skip boxes that are so flimsy they might collapse on your rabbit. Aim for durable materials that will contain the digging medium and retain its shape.
Where to put your digging box
Finding the right spot to place your DIY rabbit digging box takes a bit of trial and error. Here are some tips on the best locations:
- Free roaming rabbits – Place box in corner of room or common area your rabbit spends most time in.
- Caged rabbits – Position box in corner of cage or large attached exercise pen area.
- Quiet corner – Pick a quiet, low traffic area to avoid startling your rabbit.
- Near toys & food – Having digging box close to toys and hay feeders promotes use.
- Accessible – Ensure rabbit has easy access into the digging box, minimum 12 inch high sides.
- Supervised – Only allow digging when supervised initially until you're sure your rabbit won't ingest non-food items.
- Patience – It make take a few days for your rabbit to discover the digging box. Persistence pays off.
Be prepared to move the digging box to a new spot if your rabbit seems scared, disinterested or doesn't use it at first. Take cues from your rabbit's behavior and adjust the location accordingly until you find that sweet spot.
What kind of digging material is best for rabbits?
When selecting digging materials for a DIY rabbit digging box, aim for natural fibers, foods and wood free from chemicals, fumes or toxicity. Recommended digging medium options:
- Paper – Shredded printer/computer paper, junk mail, newspapers (non-glossy pages), paper bags, cardboard boxes, egg cartons.
- Hay – Timothy hay, oat hay, brome, straw. Cut into smaller pieces first.
- Sand – Child-safe play sand specifically for sandboxes.
- Soil/Coir – Organic pesticide-free topsoil or coconut coir substrate.
- Burlap – Natural fabric that's shred-friendly.
- Fleece – Supervision recommended. Opt for untreated natural fibers.
- Twigs – Any non-toxic pesticide free sticks or twigs. Apple, willow, poplar wood works great.
- Leaves – Dry leaves from any pesticide-free tree. Natural and easy to shred.
Steer clear of digging materials like potting soil, fertilized soil, clumping cat litter, craft sand or sawdust which can be unsafe if ingested. Supervise your rabbit at first to ensure they don't consume non-edible materials.
Is it okay if your rabbit eats the cardboard/paper/fabric?
It's perfectly fine if your rabbit nibbles on cardboard, paper or natural fabrics in their digging box. Here are some guidelines on safe ingestion:
- Cardboard – Untreated single layer cardboard is safe. Avoid coated, dyed or treated boxes.
- Paper – Simple computer paper, newspaper, paper bags are safe in moderation.
- Egg cartons – Plain cardboard egg cartons are fine for chewing and eating.
- Fleece/burlap – Opt for all natural, pesticide residue-free fabrics.
- Watch for GI issues – Monitor stool and appetite in case of any gastrointestinal upset.
- No swallowing – Try to prevent actually swallowing or ingesting pieces of material.
- Timothy hay – Best safe natural fiber. Encourages chewing motions.
- Provide alternatives – Have acceptable chew toys readily available.
Supervise your rabbit initially until you're comfortable with their interest in nibbling on paper, cardboard or fabrics. Provide plenty of alternatives they can freely chew or destroy like willow sticks, pine cones and seagrass mats.
What kind of treats to add to the box?
Adding a few tasty treats into your rabbit's new digging box provides positive reinforcement for exhibit natural behaviors. Some delicious, motivating options include:
- Hay pellets or cubes
- Oxbow Simple Rewards treats
- Rolled oats
- Occasional nutritious cereal pieces like Cheerios or Grape Nuts
- Dried fruits like papaya or mango
- Herbs like dill, mint or parsley
- Rosewood sticks or blocks
- Timothy hay balls or cubes
- Small willow or seagrass balls
Bury treats throughout the digging medium to encourage foraging behaviors. Switch up treats to maintain interest and excitement. Introduce new textures, fibers and substrates over time like crinkle paper, pine cones, river stones or new natural chewing toys. Make sure to include some favorite healthy greens or fruits your rabbit goes crazy for too!
Other Tips for Rabbit Digging Box Success
Here are some additional useful tips to make your DIY rabbit digging box engaging and enriching:
Supervise play time until you're comfortable your rabbit won't ingest non-food items
Provide gentle praise and treats when you see digging behavior
Try various substrate depths and textures to spark curiosity
Refresh digging medium weekly by stirring, adding new materials, treats
Spot clean as needed if soiled with urine or droppings
Disinfect box with white vinegar or bunny-safe cleaner monthly
Introduce new scents by adding dried herbs/flowers
Hide treats under layers to encourage digging
Try different box locations to find your rabbit's sweet spot
Add fun tunnels, hides or toys for added mental stimulation
Swap in new materials like river stones, pine cones, etc to keeps things interesting.
Consider a digging box big enough for two rabbits to use together!
With a little creativity and patience, a DIY digging box makes for hours of healthy stimulation and entertainment for rabbits of all ages. Just remember to keep materials bunny-safe and have fun seeing your rabbit's natural instincts shine through!