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A little morbid, but my rabbit died last night, and since the ground in my yard was frozen I could only manage to a dig a foot deep. The rabbit is not wrapped in anything, and there is roughly 3-4" of soil covering him from the 'highest point' where his body begins. I do not want raccoons or other scavengers digging it up, but the thought of me having to dig him up is just as scary. What should I do, if anything?

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Condolences on your loss. –  James Jenkins Feb 9 at 20:50
    
Is this an in town location or rural area? Did the rabbit die of a disease? Do you know the cause? Sorry to ask these questions but I think the answers to them affect the answer to this question. –  user9 Feb 10 at 15:25
    
Sorry I was not specific enough, this is a neighbourhood town, and the rabbit presumably died of old age (10 years old at this point, suddenly starting losing weight last year) –  Jane Doe Feb 10 at 22:02

4 Answers 4

Depending on where you live, burying your pet in your yard may be illegal. You should check your local laws, before undertaking a reburial. If the area is in a neighborhood, the possibility that a neighbor's dog may find and remove your pet is very high, given the depth the you describe. Also, as you mention, the risk of wildlife exposing the body is significant.

A shallow grave is more likely to allow smells and other evidence of the decaying body to be noticeable in the area. According to some sources, the appropriate depth for a green burial is 3 - 4 feet (Meter +). There are also health concerns for any other bunnies now in your home or in the future (and possibly you or your loved one). As an example Encephalitozoon cuniculi occasionally called 'EC' is a debilitating organism 'which can survive for a long time in the environment'. It can infect both humans and particularly devastating to rabbits. A shallow grave may allow this or other organism to be transmitted, this is of particular concern if a contagious diseases was the cause of your pets death.

Your local vet should be able to address available options in your area.

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Yes, 3-4 feet deep, said also my father-in-law, who lives in countryside and knows by experience how deep those foxes and whatnots may dig. He shot all sick (mange usually) wild animals he saw within shotgun reach, and then buried them. –  Esa Paulasto Feb 13 at 10:21

At only a few inches deep, it's still easily detected by coyotes and foxes. Something else to consider is once the ground thaws and it rains, some of the soil on top is going to wash away. I don't think it's necessary to make a grave six feet deep, but a couple feet is much safer than a couple inches.

If transferring him to a deeper grave is not something you're comfortable doing, the best option I think is to cover the grave. You could use a large stone over the top as a gravestone, or even a pile of smaller stones. If you don't want it to look like a grave, you could put a large potted plant on top of it. Something large enough to keep the rain from washing away the dirt, and to discourage digging.

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Sorry for your loss.

I don't think you should dig him up. Just mark the spot with stones, and, to reduce odor, guarantee that no disease is spread, and accelerate decomposition, cover it with quick lime (mix it with the soil above).

Since this is a one time issue, and it's in your yard, I don't believe you need a license.

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All the concerns given are valid... but I would leave it where it was.

I buried a 22 year old cat of mine last summer and the arangement was shallower than I would have liked. There are foxes, racoons, and other predator / scavangers about in my area. Yet I had no issues with smell or the grave being dug up. This doesn't mean it can't happen (it certianly can) but just that it won't neccessarily occur.

If you're concerned you can place heavy rocks or pots of heavy soil above the grave to discourage things from digging it up

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