Rabbits Kindling in Burrows
A while back I wrote about a doe that kindled under a hutch, on top of the ground. Usually the does kindle in burrows they've dug into the ground. Above is a photograph of what I call "the fence burrow" because it is dug right beside the fence. Usually it's open and the kits run in and out of it. The older rabbits don't utilize burrows.
Here's the fence burrow after a doe has kindled and there are kits hidden inside. The does close the holes up until the kits are three or four weeks old and ready to venture out. This keeps them from wandering out and getting lost or eaten, and it keeps other rabbits from getting in the burrow and stepping on the kits and killing them. I imagine in the wild it also helps hide them from predators.
The first time one of our does kindled, I saw the closed up entrance and thought all the kits must have been born dead, for her to seal off the burrow like that. I was sad. Now I know better, and I look for a closed off burrow and fur on the ground as a sign that a doe has kindled.
This burrow was used again recently, but the ground was frozen solid. There was fur around the entrance to the burrow but the ground was too hard for the doe to dig up and seal off the opening. Eventually we got a good layer of fresh snow and she used that to seal up the burrow.
The does only visit the burrows once or twice per day to nurse the kits. Other than that they ignore the burrow completely. I've read that wild rabbits do this too, and it helps avoid advertising the presence of the burrows to predators.