When you buy a rabbit, you will probably notice that the most widely available types of bedding are newspaper, shavings and straw. But, you should be aware that there are many different kinds of bedding for rabbit, and some can not only prove to be cheaper, but also be more beneficial to your rabbit’s health.
A layer of absorbent paper should be laid over the base of the cage to soak up any water or urine, especially in the case of a wooden hutch. Newspaper is often used, but the chemicals that are used in the ink can be poisonous to rabbits, and as rabbits love to chew this can be problematic. If you know that the newspaper uses a soy-based ink, then this can be used without harm; it is advisable to used unprinted paper though. Rolls of plain paper can be bought from printers and manufacturers.
Wood shavings are not only absorbent but they are soft, fairly cheap and easy to source. However, make sure that they have not been treated. Pine oil is often used to treat wood products, and it is highly toxic to rabbits and should not be ingested. Some stores will scent their shavings with lavender or lemon, but this is more for the owner’s benefit rather than the rabbits and can cause allergic reactions occasionally. Other wood products that can be used include wooden pellets like cat litter, although these are not very soft and can be uncomfortable.
Carefresh is becoming more widely available, and is often advised for pets with dust allergies. It is made from recycled paper and card, and is not only highly absorbent so that any excess water or urine is soaked away, but it also good at holding the suffocating smell of ammonia. Cheaper alternatives to this bedding would be shredded cardboard or paper, but as with newspaper it is best to make sure that they have not been treated with a chemical-based ink.
Rabbits like to burrow and nest and some rabbits will pull tufts of fur from their chests to provide extra warmth in their beds, this is especially common in females that have not been spayed. To help create a nest environment, you should use a thick pile of bedding such as straw or hay alongside a shelter made from wood, cardboard or plastic.
Straw is commonly used, but hay is often suggested as an alternative as it is softer and provides a source of fiber essential to the rabbit’s diet. If you do choose to use straw, barley straw is softer and less likely to cause skin or eye irritations. Use a long-strand hay or straw that can be used to nest.
As well as straw or hay, cloth can be used. This is a good way of recycling old clothing such as jumpers and blankets, but make sure they have been washed. It is also a good idea to cut them up into large chunks so that the rabbit cannot get stuck in them. Old cleaning cloths can also be used, but it is essential that they are clean and free from harmful chemicals such as bleach and chlorine.
You can buy beds similar to cat-beds for rabbits, and whilst these do provide a nest and warmth, it is important that owners are aware that rabbits will chew them, and it can be rather an expensive choice when it comes to replacing and washing them.
Bedding is used not only to keep rabbits warm and dry, but can also provide a layer of protection for the cage or hutch that is being used. It is important that any bedding used is not only absorbent, able to soak up water and urine, but is also clean and dry to prevent your rabbit from becoming ill. Make sure you clean out their hutch or cage regularly to ensure that they remain happy and healthy.