This article is written by my son “The Rabbit Shepherd” of whom I am so proud!
Everyone who breeds rabbits in the south knows that in the hot summer months your rabbits are not able to breed and be productive. I want to be a missionary in Africa when I am older, so I wanted to see if a rabbit would be able to breed better and would be healthier overall in a hot dry climate if it had an underground den to nest in. If it works, it could be a valuable source of meat or income for a family in Africa. Africa is a big continent so I am comparing the weather in Kenya because the temperatures and rainfall are very similar to Texas. I am learning a lot, however I have had a few set backs. I am interested to know how it will turn out.
My hypothesis is that a rabbit will be able to breed through the summer and will be healthier over all. Also I believe that more babies will be born and survive in the under ground den than in the outside cage with out a den. At the present time I am taking temperature readings to see if the den is warmer in the winter in comparison with the outside temperature.
The underground den has a tunnel that leads to a cage where the rabbit gets it’s food and hopefully poops, leaving the den for nesting. I thought that the rabbit would poop in the den, but was surprised to find that it comes out into the above ground part of the cage to do it’s business. All the poop drops down into a tray that I have to change WAY to often for my liking. Anyway, this is the way I built my underground den.
wire cage, ceramic tile, cement cinder blocks, metal pipe, insulation wrapping, metal duct tape, sod or soil, sandpaper
shovel or digging tools, wire cutters, a wet saw to cut the ceramic tile,
Construction of the underground rabbit den.
Starting with a wire rabbit cage that was 24″x 20″ x 16″ the first step was to dig a hole a little bigger than the cage. Because of tree roots the cage could not be buried fully into the ground.
Step two was to cut out the top of the cage. The hole needs to be just big enough to get the rabbit out of. A lid from an old ice chest surrounded by Styrofoam board made a tight fit. Surrounding the cage with ceramic tile kept the dirt from falling into the den. Some of the tile had to be cut with a wet saw to fit around the cage. Cement Cinder blocks were placed around the cage resting on the ground. Packing them with dirt gave the den needed insulation. The last step was to cover the den with sod and stomp it down positioning the cooler lid on top of the opening with a heavy brick on top to keep predators out.
I got a metal tube and put insulation with metal tape all over the outside. Sand paper created traction so that the rabbit could climb up the tunnel and into the above ground cage.
The rabbit gets food and water in the above ground cage. It is just a wire cage set up so the rabbit can go back and forth when it wants.