Every rabbit will have their preferences for toys, but since rabbits are diggers by nature, many of them can have a lot of fun with their very own digging box. The concept is pretty simple. Fill a box with material (such as shredded paper) and put it down for your rabbit to jump in and play with.
All you really need to make a digging box for your rabbit is a box and some kind of crumpled paper or digging material. However, you can make it a lot more fun for your rabbit by adding some toys and treats to the box for them to forage and toss around.
Digging boxes are especially useful if you have a rabbit who has the tendency to dig into your rug, the corners of your room, or under the bed. It distracts your rabbit and gives them a way to use their natural behavior in a more constructive way that won’t destroy your home. When giving your rabbit their digging box, you should also be sure to place it in a spot that will be enticing. A box sitting in the middle of the room will likely be ignored by your rabbit, but a box in the corner, under the table, or in a small spot behind the sofa can keep your rabbit entertained for days.
Important: This post contains affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Supplies needed for a rabbit digging box
Digging boxes are pretty easy to put together. You probably have all the materials you need to make it sitting around your home already. You don’t need to worry about using the highest quality of materials, since it’s probably going to get chewed on, dug into, and destroyed by your rabbit anyway. As long as the materials you’re using are rabbit-safe, then you can use pretty much whatever you want to lure your rabbit to the digging box.
For this project, you will need:
- A box large enough for your rabbit to fit in
- Optional: a razor or scissors
- A stack of old newspapers, shredded papers, or other digging material
- Treats, dried herbs, or rabbit food
Step-by-step on how to make a digging box
- Set up the base of your box and make sure it’s large enough. If you set the box down on the ground, your rabbit might hop inside to check it out. Make sure they can fit in the box with some room to spare.
- If you’re using a cardboard box, remove the tape, staples, and labels. Cardboard is okay for your rabbit to eat a little bit, but you don’t want them to eat tape, and staples could accidentally injure them. Fold the flaps to create a base on one side. On the other end, you can use a razor to remove the flaps completely.
- Shred the newspaper or paper until you have a pile that half-fills the box. Take the stack of newspapers you have and start shredding. You can use an electric shredder if you have one, but you can also just rip up strips with your hands. Once you have the strips of paper, crumple them together to make an interesting texture for your rabbit to dig through. You can also use other types of digging materials such as hay or even dirt (see below for more ideas).
- Hide treats and toys inside the box. Now all you have to do is get some treats and hide them in the digging box so your rabbit can use their natural foraging instincts to find their food. Use a small amount of treats, or you can hide some dried herbs for your rabbit. You can also sprinkle a handful of pellets among the crumpled-up paper, along with other chew toys so your rabbit can toss them around. Just be careful not to hide toys with pointy edges, such as wooden blocks, since you don’t want your rabbit to accidentally get injured.
After you’ve finished putting the box together, place it in a corner or under a chair or table. Choose someplace that your rabbit has already been using as a digging spot. This toy can end up making a big mess as your rabbit enthusiastically digs through it to find the hidden treats. Be prepared to clean up the mess, or just scoop the strips of paper back into the box for the next time your rabbit plays with it. Occasionally, you’ll have to replace the box or the treats and other materials inside the box to renew your rabbit’s interest.
What kind of box to use?
Most types of boxes are okay to use for your rabbit. The key is the size of the box, not necessarily the material it’s made from. You want to make sure any box that you use is large enough for your rabbit to fully fit inside with some room to spare. Generally, bigger boxes are better because most rabbits won’t try to dig in a box that is too small.
The box you pick should also be deep enough too. I’ve noticed that most rabbits prefer to be partially obscured when they go on their digging rampages, so the sides of the box should be a few inches high so that your rabbit can feel hidden. Placing the box in corners and out-of-the-way spots will also help with this.
The higher the sides of the digging box, the less will end up being dug out onto the floor surrounding it. But keep in mind that all digging boxes will result in some level of mess, no matter how high the sides are. Of course, make sure the sides are still low enough that your rabbit can still hop inside of it easily.
When it comes to the material the box is made of, pretty much any kind of box is okay as long as it’s not made of something that’s toxic to rabbits. Some examples for your rabbit’s digging box include:
- Cardboard. This is a favorite of many rabbits, but be prepared to replace the box frequently since rabbits will dig and chew through the cardboard.
- Plastic. Plastic is great as long as your rabbit doesn’t start to eat bits of the plastic box. Most rabbits won’t do this, but occasionally I’ll come across a rabbit who chews and eats plastic. In which case, you should use a different material (and replace their plastic litter box).
- Wicker basket. Wicker baskets, boxes, and containers are a fun option for many rabbits, but be sure to use a natural wicker that does not have any varnish or paint. Rabbits will usually eat the sticks and twigs used to make wicker baskets. You don’t want them to ingest anything that could cause problems with their digestion.
- Metal. Metal boxes are a little less common to find in a large enough size for rabbits, but they are okay to use if you have one available.
- Wood. Make sure to choose a type of wood that’s safe for rabbits to chew on. Stay away from cedar boxes or any type of wood that is aromatic. Learn more about types of wood that are not safe for rabbits to chew on.
Where to put your digging box
The place where you put your digging box often matters more than the type of box you use. Rabbits have a natural instinct to dig in places that are underneath other things and otherwise out of the way since in the wild this would hide the entrance holes to their tunnels. This means setting up a digging box and placing it in the middle of a room isn’t going to attract or distract your rabbit.
Instead, focus on places that are somewhat hidden to better entice your rabbit. Try to think about these kinds of locations:
- In back of something. If there is an area behind a sofa or lounge chair, or any place with furniture in front of it, this tends to be a good spot for a digging box.
- Underneath something. Other great places include underneath the table, under a chair, on the bottom shelf of a bookcase, or in a similar area that has some sort of cover.
- In a corner. Corners are also hot spots for rabbit digging. If there is any corner in back of or underneath furniture, you just found the perfect spot. But even corners that seem to be ‘out in the open’ are good digging spots for rabbits.
- Where your rabbit likes to dig. If there is any place where your rabbit has already shown signs of digging, this is a good place to put your rabbit’s digging box.
What kind of digging material is best for rabbits?
The most common material to use in a rabbit’s digging box is shredded or crumpled paper since these will be easiest to clean later on. But there are plenty of other types of digging materials you can use to keep your rabbit entertained. You can get creative with how you fill the box, just keep in mind that you should only use materials that it’s okay for rabbits to ingest since most rabbits will end up eating a little bit of it as they dig and chew through the box.
- Paper. Shredded or crumpled paper is great for rabbit digging boxes. You can also include packing paper, like the plain white or brown paper used as stuffing in packages you receive.
- Hay. Many people will use hay in the rabbit digging box. I’ve done this before too, and this was probably my rabbits’ favorite digging material. However, they did eventually start using the hay digging box as a secondary litter box, so I stopped using hay.
- Fabric. You can use old towels, clothes, linens, or other cloth materials in the digging box. Just try to use cloths made from natural fibers (such as cotton, wool, linen, etc.) and avoid anything polyester (since this uses plastic fibers).
- Dirt. You can use potting soil or even dirt from your yard if you want to. Keep in mind that this will make a bigger mess than paper, so you might only want to use this if you have an area in your home where it’s okay to have a big mess.
- Snow. If you get a lot of snow in the winter, you can shovel some into a box and bring it inside for your rabbit to check out. Many rabbits will have fun being curious and digging into this new material.
- Sand. This is similar to dirt in that it’s a lot of fun for rabbits, but it will make a big mess.
- Litter. You can also use your rabbit’s regular litter in their digging box. I’ve never used this, but I suspect it would be similar to hay and eventually end up being used as a litter box instead of (or in addition to) a digging box.
Rabbits in digging boxes will make a mess regardless of what material you put into them. However, it will be a lot easier to clean up a mess from paper or fabric materials that are something like dirt or sand. So keep that in mind when choosing what you want to fill your rabbit’s digging box with.
Is it okay if your rabbit eats the cardboard/paper/fabric?
If you include cardboard, paper pieces, or fabric as the digging materials, it’s common for your rabbit to chew on these and eat a little bit as they play in the digging box. For the most part, this is not a big deal and there is no need to worry. Since cardboard, paper, and natural fabrics (such as cotton) are high-fiber materials, they can pass through the rabbit’s digestive system.
However, they do not provide any nutritional value, so you don’t want your rabbit to eat too much of these materials. If your rabbit is eating a lot of the paper, cardboard, or fabric you’ve added to the digging box, then you should probably choose something else to include as a digging material. But most rabbits won’t be eating that much. Usually, they chew it up and spit out the pieces while they go on a digging rampage.
What kind of treats to add to the box?
It’s good to hide yummy treats in the rabbit’s digging box because it rewards your rabbit for digging there instead of other places where their digging habits are more destructive. However, you do still want to make sure you’re not giving your rabbit too many treats since that can be bad for their digestion. That’s why it’s best to choose healthy treats or make sure you break everything into tiny pieces so your rabbit can forage for them without eating too much.
Some ideas for treats you can get your rabbit include:
- Pellets. You can sprinkle your rabbit’s regular dry food into the digging box so they can forage for it.
- Hay treats. You can get lightly flavored hay-based treats and break them up into small pieces (such as Oxbow’s Simple Rewards).
- Dried herbs. These are pretty healthy for rabbits to have in higher amounts than other types of treats. They also aren’t going to go bad if your rabbit doesn’t find them right away. You can get blends of dried herbs from Small Pet Select (my rabbits really like the Zen Tranquility blend) and use the code ‘BUNNYLADY’ for 15% off your first order.
- Dried fruit. You can also hide small pieces of dried fruit in the digging box. Make sure they are unsweetened since too much sugar is bad for rabbit digestion. You can also find dried fruits at Small Pet Select that are completely natural and free of added sugars.
- Treats that won’t go bad. Overall, you should only use treats or foods that aren’t going to spoil. Sometimes the rabbit won’t find the food right away or will forget to go back for it, so you’ll want to avoid adding anything that will start to rot or attract bugs.
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Recommended Products and Brands
Important: These are Affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases.
The two brands that I use when buying food for my rabbit are Oxbow and Small Pet Select. These both have high quality rabbit products and are companies that care about the health of our small animals. If you are purchasing anything from Small Pet Select use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout to get 15% off your first order.
- Hay: Second Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select
- Pellets: Oxbow Garden Select Food for Rabbits
- Treats: Oxbow Simple Rewards
- Toys: Small Pet Select Natural Toys
- Enclosure/cage: A rabbit exercise pen
- Rabbit carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed