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An Outdoor colony

Alternative housing for rabbits in groups.
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An Outdoor colony

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Oxankle » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:29 pm

I have had a pair of NZ whites in a large outdoor pen for three months. The pen is on flat ground and the rabbits have been tunneling underground. I suspect the doe has lost two litters because the ground is unsatisfactory, wet and cold.

Three weeks ago I happened to be feeding when I saw the doe bred and marked the calendar. Two days ago I saw her digging outside a shelter in the pen. Part of her tunnel had already fallen in behind her and rain was predicted. The den would simply have filled with water, so I netted the doe and put her in a cage with a nestbox---she is due Tuesday and is resting calmly as if she has done this for years.

Here is my plan--should have been done by now but I have been waiting on good weather. I am going to haul in a truckload or so of fill dirt and build a berm, a small hill, in that pen. I want it three or four feed high and as big as I can fit inside the 25 foot square pen and still have room for feeders and the waterer. A mound on the berm will be covered with a roof--an eight foot TV dish so that the rabbits can burrow under a waterproof shelter. They should never again lack for a dry place to den.

Now; here is my question--do any of you have outside pens similar to this? Are your rabbits burrowing into the ground? Is your ground sloped so that it drains, or do they burrow under rocks or other structures?

I know that European rabbits burrow, but they have to have dry shelter for their kits, so I am guessing that they will dig under rocks or into the side of hills. Here in this country coyotes and other "denning" varmints dig into the side of hlls, high ditch banks, under rocks and so on, so I am guessing rabbits require similar accommodations.

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Re: An Outdoor colony

Post Number:#2  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:50 pm

I just did a Google Image Search for rabbit warrens and it seems they are mainly on hillsides. Take a look for yourself, Ox... It is pretty interesting and may give you some ideas.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=rabbit+w ... 72&bih=421

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Re: An Outdoor colony

Post Number:#3  Unread postby Oxankle » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:01 am

Thanks, Maggie. This pretty much confirms my feeling about the need for a berm. The picture of the "recreation of Woodbury Court Warren" is pretty much what I have in mind.

Apparently people have been keeping rabbits for domestic use for a long time. The wattle fence is a clue.

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Re: An Outdoor colony

Post Number:#4  Unread postby a7736100 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:19 am

My rabbits dig around my house foundation. They also dug under my cement patio. Hope I don't get a cave in one day. Guess I really should let 3 does run loose.

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Re: An Outdoor colony

Post Number:#5  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:23 am

Another possibility is purpose made nesting spots built into your berm. In hot climates these are used to protect the rabbits from heat, but they could be adapted to protect from cold and flooding too.

http://ressources.ciheam.org/om/pdf/c08/95605275.pdf

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