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Burrow/tunnel construction  RSS feed

Daniel Bowman
Posts: 75
Location: Sandy Mush, NC
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Hmmm. rabbits in pipes? Besides a few photos from Europe of constructing wild rabbit habitat with concrete sewer pipes and the film Jean de Florette.. I have not seen anything about this idea beyond the theoretical. The major drawback seems to be control of breeding, but I want to integrate this 'constructed wild' setup with exactly that. In theory, I think there are a lot of advantages to what I want to do, but I have not seen anyone actually demonstrate it in practice. Here is my plan:

I am building an earth-sheltered greenhouse with an excavated walkway that will house 4'x8'x2' vernmiculture bins and rabbit colony burrows beneath it. The rabbit burrows will utilize underground pipes that lead to outdoor pasture access. The rabbitry produces additional CO2 for the greenhouse, the walkway is a cold-sink (mike oehler-style) and provides all season weather protection. the design incorporates four separate rabbit burrows that measure approx 32 sq ft and house 2-3 does in each. The major design difference to the classic "earth-sheltered solar greenhouse" design is that I want to give the rabbits constant access to outdoor pasture using underground pipe.

My first question is, what distance is acceptable for the pipe? The current design will require that two of the burrows are quite narrow and use 16 ft of access pipe. I am planning to have two pipes for each burrow so that it is more difficult for the dominant rabbit to block out the others. Maybe I am just claustrophobic, but I wonder whether the rabbits will feel confident and comfortable using a 16 ft pipe whenever they want some outdoor time.. is this too long?

Also, what diameter should I use that is not too big that the rabbits might try nesting in the pipe itself and not so small that they cannot use it safely without getting stuck or some other problem? Then the question of what material to use? What first comes to mind is smooth, rigid pvc, but I also see a lot of advantages to using corrugated flex-pipe. Any thoughts on pipe material and pros/cons?

Last concern: the two back-most burrows in the greenhouse will only measure 2 ft wide, although they are both 16 ft long. If the burrow is 2 ft tall and I add some 1 ft shelves for running under/over, will this be too cramped? Will they naturally choose nesting sites that aren't obtrusive of other does or jealously guard access to the pipes? I could easily make the burrow deeper/taller to 3 ft, but I can't so easily make it wider than 2 ft, unfortunately. The other two burrows will be 4 ft wide for half of their length. If the narrow two burrows don't work well, I can always combine them into a single 4 ft wide burrow, but I wonder just if they would need or appreciate the extra room.

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