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There are two things I want to make clear here. There is bedding for the rabbit to actually rest on and there is bedding to absorb their waste. Do not combine the two. The best type that will soak up the rabbit’s urine will cause massive intestinal issues and even kill your rabbit.
I have strong opinions about this next one. Rabbits are not dogs like mainstream media would have you believe. They will dig and destroy a soft fabric-type bed and if they ingest any of it that will be deadly to them.
Do Rabbits Need Bedding?
While bedding for a rabbit to lay on is not necessary but you can give them a place to rest in private when they need time to themselves. Rabbits are not pack animals and do not want to be with people all the time. If your rabbit seems like it wants space to be left alone give it to them.
Whether your rabbit is in a cage indoors or not you do NOT want to have their entire living quarters filled with bedding to where their waste can not fall through the cage floor. Rabbits pop constantly and pee pretty frequently as well. Your rabbit will be walking on a cage full of waste within hours if the poo and pee cannot fall through.
Choose a corner of their cage to add a bed of edible material or a resting mat.
Bedding In The Litter Tray
This is not meant for them to lay on but bedding material in the cage tray will help absorb waste and help control odors in the rabbit’s living area. My favorite type of bedding for this is wood pellets that can be found in the horse section of almost any farm supply store. The second choice would be wood bedding that has been cut into shavings. By regularly spot-cleaning the rabbit’s cage of soiled bedding you can keep the smell down if your rabbit lives indoors.
The Best Rabbit Bedding Should Be Safe to Eat
Rabbits taste EVERYTHING! Mainstream media pushing that rabbits make good house pets is so hazardous to them because literally, everything in your house that makes you comfortable could be deadly to them if your rabbit ate it.
If you want your rabbit to be able to lay on something the cleanest and safest thing that is used in the rabbit show world is a plastic resting mat. It still has holes for the waste to fall through which is important because your rabbit will go to the bathroom on it. And they are strong enough to keep rabbits from chewing them up.
The second choice would be VERY DRY straw. Not hay. Hay is cut and dried green grass and straw is the bottom half of wheat that is supper dry and stiff. Damp hay can be another health issue for your rabbits if they eat it. You can read more about it in the post below.
Straw bedding is an excellent choice for rabbit owners, especially for those who keep their rabbits outdoors.
One of the advantages of straw bedding is its warmth. Straw provides insulation, keeping the rabbits warm during colder months. Keep in mind that the ideal temperature for rabbits is 50 degrees. So your outdoor rabbits are not likely to use a bed full of straw until it gets to be 35 degrees or less. Cooler is better for both outdoor and indoor rabbits.
Con: Straw does not absorb hardly anything. It will sweal and draw in a little bit more than pine bedding but not much. So make sure you do not let it sit long in the rabbit’s cage if it is wet. It will just cause stench and health issues in your rabbits.
It is important to note that there is a difference between hay and straw. Hay is primarily used as a dietary staple for livestock, while straw is best suited for bedding purposes. While hay is softer and more nutritious, straw is sturdier and provides better insulation.
These are ok for the rabbits to be around but it likely won’t say in the cage unless you put a wood box ( a rabbit will just shred a cardboard box) in the cage to hold the shavings. However, when you do this you are essentially creating a litter box for your rabbit and you are back to the issue of waste getting stuck on their bottom and in their fur because most rabbits are going to use the box as a toilet.
While pine shavings offer decent absorbency but do require frequent cleaning. Rabbit urine can quickly saturate the shavings, leading to the buildup of ammonia and odors.
Bedding to Avoid
It is important to avoid certain types of bedding materials that can potentially harm your pet rabbit. There are some bedding types that just don’t work to absorb the waste of small animals if that is what you are looking to do. And other types like fabrics can be deadly if ingested.
DO NOT give your rabbit a fluffy fabric-type bed like you would a dog. It will kill them if they get one string in their intestine. Make sure that the bedding your choose is made of natural materials and materials that are safe for them to eat.
Fabric bedding, such as fleece blankets and cotton towels are just a few of these examples that are not a good idea to have with your rabbit.
Some bedding options, such as wood shavings, can pose risks to a rabbit’s health if ingested. Cedar contains oils that can be toxic to rabbits, causing respiratory issues and skin irritations. It’s best to avoid using cedar wood shavings as bedding.
Another common bedding material to avoid is clay-based “clumping” cat litter. While it may absorb moisture well, the clumping action can be dangerous if ingested by rabbits. If a rabbit consumes the litter, it can potentially cause blockages in its digestive system.
Grass Hay Bedding
Hay bedding is a popular choice for rabbit owners because it is safe for the rabbit to eat. BUT rabbits have a natural inclination to graze on grass and hay, and providing hay bedding it triggers them to eat it. Instead of using it for bedding. — This is why if you are raising rabbits to breed them you should not fill the nest box with straw because your doe will likely eat the straw and not make a nest for her litter out of it.
Absorbent Bedding For Rabbit Litter
First, let me be clear. Rabbits do not need a litter box. They are unhealthy for multiple reasons. First, they cause the rabbit to sit in waste which sticks to their feet and causes urine stains or can even burn the fur off their feet because of the acidity in the urine. When the rabbit grooms themselves they can ingest the bedding that is stuck to their fur which is not healthy for them either.
But also if your rabbit’s hutch has a wire bottom that allows the waste to fall to the ground this is going to be the best option to save you a lot of time and keep your rabbits clean.
Other key advantage of using absorbent bedding is its ability to control odors. Rabbit urine can produce strong and unpleasant smells, and even cause urine burn if the rabbit’s hutch does not allow for the waste to fall through the floor into a tray.
Make Sure You Use Dust-Free Bedding
Making sure that your rabbit’s bedding is dust-free is important for overall health. If your rabbit has weepy eyes or is starting to breathe loudly your rabbit’s respiratory system is starting to struggle.
Dust from bedding materials can pose significant risks to rabbits, particularly when it comes to their respiratory system. Rabbits are highly susceptible to respiratory problems, and inhaling dust can exacerbate or even trigger respiratory issues. — Which is another reason rabbits tend to do better outdoors instead of being house pets. There is a lot more airflow.
When the bedding is not going to be within reach of the rabbit and is intended for absorbing waste in the litter tray here are some different types of rabbit bedding that is low dust.
- Wood pellets make the best litter for absorption. – It is an affordable price if you buy them through a farm supply store. You can get them for about $7 a 40-pound bag.
- Aspen wood shavings.
- Paper-based bedding like paper pulp but is often high-priced at pet stores. – Paper bedding is dust free but it does not absorb well at all. I have also seen it cake together and make it very difficult to clean out of rabbit hutch trays.
Wood pellets are the best option for rabbit bedding with the best odor control and absorption rate. They are pretty well known among rabbit showers and livestock raisers and the pellets are starting to become more known amongst pet rabbit people.
Rabbits should NEVER have access to these because both paper pellets and wood pellets swell up when wet. So it your rabbits eat these it will swell up in their gut and kill them.
Another advantage of wood pellets is their affordability and availability.
They are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at many pet stores and online retailers. Just keep in mind that the wood pellets in the pet store are going to be way more expensive than the bags for livestock.
Avoid Cedar Wood Shavings
Cedar wood shavings should be avoided as bedding for rabbits due to several reasons. The aromatic smell of cedar can cause liver problems for rabbits. Rabbits have sensitive respiratory systems, and the strong smell of cedar can irritate their airways and lead to respiratory issues. This can result in coughing, sneezing, and difficulty breathing.
Additionally, the negative effects of cedar shavings also include nose irritation. The strong odor can cause discomfort and irritation in the rabbit’s nasal passages, further exacerbating respiratory problems.
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This is more of a caution instead of a don’t use. I have seen multiple people get grass mats for their rabbits and they started itching after being around them for a week and as soon as the mats were removed the rabbit stopped itching. If you want to try them out, fine. Just keep an eye on your rabbit and consider removing them if needed.
Finding the right bedding can be stressful but just use logic. Keep in mind that rabbit will eat or test out everything so if they shouldn’t eat it. Don’t give it to them. There are several safe options out there if you are willing to keep the health of your rabbits in mind first instead of letting your emotions take over.
Remember rabbits are not dogs like the mainstream media would have you believe. Fleece bedding is deadly to rabbits and they can not be trained out of chewing on things. Natural fibers and materials make the best bedding for rabbits to lay on if you want to provide it.
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