Monday, September 19, 2011

Foundational design

We decided to try to give our rabbits something closer to a natural life. This meant providing ground-level dwellings, so they could dig, hide, and be more... rabbity. My father-in-law felt we should provide the burrows for the rabbits, rather than making them dig. Kris thought they could do their own digging. In the end, we decided to try one side with a burrow, one without, and see what the rabbits were inclined to do.

To let a rabbit live outside, on the ground, one must accept that the rabbit will dig. And one must assume that raccoons and other predators will also dig. So we decided to beat them to it. We dug down two feet and laid a reinforced wire the whole way around, and placed cement tubes in the corners to hold the posts for the building.  In the process, we dug out one side enough for me to construct a burrow using cement roofing tiles and rocks. Then we back-filled.

In these pictures, we've already back-filled quite a bit to hold the cement tubes in place. The wire drops down much further than you can see. The burrow tiles are also all buried already, except for the one over the earthen ramp/entry.

The dimensions of the individual dwellings were dictated in part by the size of the fencing we scavenged to use as our roof, and in part by reading what housing sizes are considered standard:  rabbits in cages about 6 square feet, 18 inches high. That's only 2'x3'. We decided that was way too small, and ours have about 16 square feet, plus whatever they've carved out underground (which is impressive- they ended up personalizing the burrows, adding second rooms on!). So far, none have collapsed, but one has an involuntary skylight (you'll see later).

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