The size and depth of a rabbit burrow depends on local conditions, says Ed Cook

When you’re out walking near a rabbit warren, have you ever wondered just how far the tunnels go down? Just how deep is the average rabbit burrow?

A rabbit warren is basically a home for a large colony of rabbits, that interconnects the different tunnels.

The answer to how deep a rabbit warren goes is that it depends on the local geography and soil. Rabbit warrens and burrows up and down the country show great variation in their depth and size. The holes are about 10-15cm in diameter and slope downwards at a shallow angle.

If the soil is easily dug – for example soft sand – then the tunnels are likely to be deeper. In heavy, clay soil the warrens may well be shallower. If rabbit burrows have been around a while and become well-established, they’ll also go down further (and almost certainly will contain more rabbits as a result). In my experience burrows tend to go further underground in open countryside – possibly because the rabbits make them that way to avoid predators. The burrows concealed with dense cover are likely to be nearer the surface.

Wild rabbits will burrow almost anywhere; fields, woods, sand dunes, marshland, railway embankments, golf courses …

Rising water levels

You can never say with certainty just how deep is the average rabbit burrow because a lot depends on the rising water levels.  Much depends on conditions; whether it has rained a lot lately or whether there’s been a drought or whether the tunnelling is near a river.

rabbits at burrow

In open ground burrows tend to be deeper

So how deep is the average rabbit burrow?

There are no hard and fast rules. Here in Hampshire most burrows are between a foot and 2½ feet deep as a rule. However, if conditions are right, rabbits will burrow well past a 15 feet ferret locator. I have had times when a six foot hole was needed to retrieve a stuck ferret.

Bolt holes

Rabbits have also been known to dig ‘bolt-holes’ within the warren, giving the opportunity to escape from a less visible part of the warren.