Just how deep do rabbits burrow down?
It all depends on the soil and local conditions, says Ed Cook
When you’re out walking and you come across a rabbit warren, you may well have wondered how far the tunnels reach along and down. Just how deep is the average rabbit burrow?
What is a rabbit warren?
A rabbit warren is basically a home for a large colony of rabbits, that interconnects the different tunnels. Rabbits dig them for safety and shelter and spend most of their time there when they are not grazing on the surface, where they usually are no more than 80ft away from their bolt hole.
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 … (Read what is the best air rifle for shooting rabbits.)
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.
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.
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.
This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated.