Bunnies need to sleep just like humans, so it stands to reason that they would also need a comfortable bed. Rabbit bedding can also be used throughout a cage to make the floor nice and soft, especially if the bottom of the cage is wire metal.
What kinds of bedding do pet bunnies sleep on? There are many options for bedding such as paper, cardboard, and wood in different forms. Your rabbit will probably have preferences, so you should try more than one.
Do Rabbits Need Bedding in Their Cage?
Rabbits don’t always need bedding in their cage, but it’s good to give them an area to hide away in. This area should be tucked away in a corner or some kind of shelter such as a hutch so that your rabbit feels safe and comfortable in this area. This helps them sleep and unwind when they are stressed. This space is especially important if you have a busy household with lots of activity and noise. You can fill this area with a variety of materials to keep your rabbit comfortable.
Rabbits may sometimes prefer to lay on cold surfaces such as hardwood or tile because they overheat easily and at low temperatures. You may find that your rabbit doesn’t use its bedding unless it is very cold and prefers to lay on the floor when it is hotter. Each rabbit has a different preference, and you should make both options available so that it has a choice.
How Much Does Rabbit Bedding Cost?
Rabbit bedding will cost more or less depending on the quality of the bedding and whether you choose to make your own or buy pre-made bedding. At a minimum, 30 liters of bedding (weight will vary with the type, so volume is a better measure) will run you around $10 for paper bedding, and premium beddings can cost as much as $50 for 30 liters. You should change bedding about once a week if your rabbits are using it. If you have 1-2 rabbits with their own or combined bedding areas, you will probably go through about half a bag to a bag of bedding a month, with larger bunnies obviously needing more. This can bring your monthly costs to anywhere from $5-50 a month depending on what you buy. While it may be tempting to get the cheapest option and save money, higher quality beddings and certain types of beddings are better for your bunny.
Where to Buy Rabbit Bedding
If you are buying paper or cardboard pellets as well as wood shavings or specialized rabbit bedding mixes, your best bet is to buy online. You can look through all your options and research each type of bedding easily when you’re shopping online rather than in a store, and you typically have more sizing options available as well.
If you are buying hay for bedding, it’s best to find a local, reputable farmer to sell you hay. You will get the hay cheaper this way than online, and you’ll be able to account for the quality of the hay and see it for yourself before paying. Most farmers are happy to sell their hay for both food and bedding for rabbits.
How Much Bedding Does a Rabbit Need?
The sleeping area filled with bedding should be big enough for the rabbit to lay down and a few inches in addition to that. You may even choose to cover the entire cage in bedding to allow your rabbit to pick any place to lay down. You should put about 2-3 inches of bedding down, and add more if your cage has a wire bottom that risks hurting bunny feet.
How Often Should I Change Rabbit Bedding?
This depends on how soiled the bedding gets. If your rabbit is fixed and is fairly clean and odor free, you can probably get away with changing bedding once a week to once every two weeks when you clean your rabbit’s cage. However, if your rabbit is not spayed or neutered, they will likely spray and urinate on the bedding more frequently, and you will need to change it out more often as a consequence. If you notice any unusual smells in your rabbit’s bedding, clean it out as soon as possible to make sure there are no contaminations.
What Do Wild Rabbits Sleep On?
Wild rabbits like to lay in cool places just like domestic rabbits and will dig burrows and lay in the dirt in their sleeping areas. Wild rabbits usually have designated sleeping areas that they may fill with hay or grass in the cold winter months when they want to keep warm.
Indoor Bedding for Rabbits
You can use any type of bedding indoors for rabbits including paper, cardboard, fleece, or hay. Indoor rabbits don’t need to worry about dirt, grass, or the weather when it comes to keeping bedding clean, so you can use absorbent materials without worrying about them picking up grime. You should still change bedding once every week or so to remove any waste from your rabbit. The amount of indoor bedding you use for your rabbit will depend on what kind of cage you have and how big it is. One thing to be careful of when putting down indoor bedding is that your bunny may confuse the bedding with their litter box and use the bathroom on the bedding rather than in the box. Keep an eye out for this and make sure the bedding is not soiled and that your rabbit is using the litter box normally after you put bedding down.
Outdoor Bedding for Rabbits
When putting in bedding for outdoors, it’s best to use hay over other more absorbent materials because hay can stand up to the weather more heartily. You can put the hay in a secluded spot to create a “bedroom” area, or spread it across the outdoor pen for your rabbit to pick up and arrange as it wants. Expect your bunny to eat plenty of this hay as well as nesting in it! You may find that your outdoor bunnies prefer to lay in the grass rather than in hay, especially when it’s hot, or they may dig into the dirt to give themselves places to lay. In the winter months, it’s very important to put hay out for your rabbits to burrow into and make nests out of due to the colder weather.
Dangerous Bedding for Rabbits
Certain types of bedding are very dangerous for rabbits and can cause serious health issues if used. Pine and cedar shavings are not good for rabbits due to the oils in the wood, which can cause liver problems, cancer, and potentially death. It’s important not to use uncured pine cat litter or wood shavings made from pine or cedar.
It’s easy to identify these litters because they have the distinct conifer smell. You may be tempted to use them as odor control to keep your rabbit’s cage smelling good, but this very smell is what can cause the health issues. Any presence of the oils or scents is dangerous to your rabbit.
If you get pine pellets that have been kiln dried to remove the oils, they are safe for your rabbit. Removing the oils and scents, as long as the wood is untreated with other chemicals, removes the risk. However, these pellets are better suited for litter rather than bedding, as they aren’t very soft or comfortable.
Unhealthy Bedding for Rabbits
Some types of beddings, while not outright dangerous, are better off avoided. They may have qualities that pose minor health risks or may be less beneficial or comfortable for your rabbit. For example, any type of bedding that is particularly dry or dusty may cause sneezing and respiratory issues in your rabbit. Paper bedding and hay can both have this problem, but by themselves they’re not necessarily bad options for bedding. It’s important to examine the bedding before using it for your rabbit to make sure that it’s safe and healthy for your rabbit. This means looking for dust, sharp edges, and debris in the bedding. Some lower quality cardboard beddings may not be shredded thoroughly and may contain rougher or harder edges. Low quality bedding is usually best avoided regardless of the type.
Rabbit Bedding for Odor Control
There are two ways to control odor in your rabbit cage. First, you can clean regularly with warm water and vinegar to remove calcified deposits from urine, which cause most if not all of the bad smells in rabbit cages. Rabbit bedding by itself typically won’t smell bad unless there is a health issue with the rabbit such as an infection, incontinence, or a plugged scent gland.
If you are having issues with bedding smelling bad, which may happen if your rabbit is not spayed or neutered, you can try using odor control bedding. There are many options out there for odor control bedding, but your best option is usually to find one with a minimal odor that gets rid of rather than covers up the odor.
Odor control bedding is typically more expensive than regular bedding, running at around $15 per 25 liters on average. It can also be used as litter to control urine odors, but it’s best not to use the same material for your rabbit’s bedding and litter box as this may confuse it and cause it to use the bathroom outside the litter box.
Aspen Bedding for Rabbits
If you are going to use wood shavings for your rabbit’s bedding, it’s best to use Aspen shavings as these are the safest type of wooden bedding. They have no oils or odors that will hurt your rabbit, and they are relatively soft. Aspen shavings are a little less expensive than paper shreds and can run around $15 for 50 liters of bedding, compared to $10 for 30L of bedding for paper. Nicer brands may cost more, just like with the paper bedding.
DIY Rabbit Bedding
If your rabbit will use it, it’s easy to make rabbit bedding at home. Rabbits can be very picky and may only like one brand of bedding, but if you introduce homemade bedding early, they may take a liking to it.
To make homemade bedding, take a sheet of newspaper or a phone book and shred it into small pieces, about half a centimeter in width and the length of a piece of hay. It’s important not to use any pages that have higher concentrations of ink in them, such as front pages with color pictures or full page advertisements. The ink in these parts of the paper can cause poisoning if eaten, and it’s very likely that your rabbit will eat at least some of its bedding.
Once you have shredded the paper, simply put it down where the bedding is or mix it with hay or other bedding. You can also put full sheets down flat at the bottom of litter boxes or on the bottom of the cage to catch droppings and urine for easy cleanup.
Hay Bedding for Rabbits
Hay is a great bedding for rabbits because it is all natural and it’s already a part of the rabbit’s daily life and diet. However, expect that if you use hay bedding, your rabbit will eat the bedding just like it would eat its normal hay. If you are using clean and healthy hay, this isn’t a problem, but you will need to replace the bedding more frequently (at least once every two or three days) so that it’s fresh for your rabbit to eat.
Fleece Bedding for Rabbits
Fleece can be a good option if you have a rabbit that is picky about the softness of the surfaces it lays on. Fleece is safer than normal fabric to use as in a rabbit cage because it doesn’t fray or come apart the way that normal cloth does. You can put fleece down flat and tie the edges down so that your rabbit can’t chew on it, or you can put down layers and monitor your rabbit to make sure it doesn’t chew.
Chewing and eating fabric can be very dangerous for rabbits. It’s not a good idea to shred the fleece like you would paper because a rabbit is more likely to eat the smaller pieces and potentially choke or get them stuck in its digestive system. Instead, use whole sheets of fleece and layer them to create a soft spot for your rabbit to dig in. If you notice your rabbit chewing on the fabric, you should remove it and consider other bedding options.
Paper Pulp Bedding for Rabbits
Paper pulp is great for indoor cages because it is extra absorbent and almost entirely free of dust. Paper pulp is usually recycled and is good for the environment as well as your bunny. If your rabbit has any accidents, paper pulp can absorb several times its weight in water, reducing the risk of flystrike if your rabbit has an accident and lays in or near it.
The quality of paper pulp bedding can vary greatly based on the type of paper it’s made from, and some companies that use recycled paper may even show quality differences from batch to batch. Be aware of the quality of the bedding before you buy it, and if possible buy recycled bedding in a store rather than online so that you can review it before buying. If your bunny isn’t picky and you’re not worried about the changes in texture or quality from batch to batch, buying online is still a good option.
Cloth Bedding for Rabbits
Regular cloth is not good to use as bedding for rabbits because it frays and the threads come apart if chewed on. Your rabbit could choke on the strings or get them stuck in its digestive system, similar to the way that hairballs develop. You shouldn’t use fabric scraps to make bedding for your rabbit, but if you have whole cloth, then it’s marginally safer to pin the cloth down so the edges aren’t reachable and us the cloth to cover an area such as a bedding area. However, keep a close eye on your rabbit to make sure it doesn’t chew on the fabric and get sick. You should use other bedding in addition to the pinned down cloth, as a single piece of fabric won’t be that comfortable for your rabbit.
Cardboard Bedding for Rabbits
Cardboard bedding is a good alternative to newspaper if you are making the bedding at home. You should shred the cardboard thoroughly and make sure all the pieces are soft and won’t hurt your rabbit due to unexpected sharp edges. Cardboard is very absorbent and makes for good insulation if your rabbit lives outside in the winter or if you keep your house particularly cold. Reusing the cardboard is also a good way to recycle, and once it’s time to throw out the bedding, it will be biodegradable. This makes cardboard a good option for the environmentally conscious, along with newspaper and other recycled materials.
Wood Pellet Bedding for Rabbits
Kiln fired wood pellets are an option for bedding and litter for rabbits. You should be careful what type of pellets you choose, as some are not suitable for rabbits. If you are purchasing wood stove pellets, make sure they don’t have any accelerants or chemicals in them as these could kill your rabbit. These types of wood pellets work fine even if they are made of pine because they are typically dried out completely to serve as better fuel, which removes the oils from the wood.
Another good option for wood pellets is to buy the type used for horse stalls at a pet store or tractor supply store. While these aren’t the most comfortable option in terms of bedding, they are great for litter boxes or rabbits who make messes frequently. The pellets are very absorbent and run about $20 for a 40lb bag of pellets.
Can You Use Wood Chips for Rabbit Bedding?
While certain wood pellets and wood shavings are fine for bedding, wood chips aren’t as good of an option. This is because they’re not as comfortable for your rabbit as the softer shavings or pellets. Wood chips often have sharp edges and splinters that may injure your rabbit if it lays in the wood chips or walks on them. Shavings are your best option for bedding because they are the softest, while pellets are a good option for litter boxes. Wood chips should typically be avoided as bedding or litter box filler due to these dangers.
Best Bedding for Rabbits
So what is the best bedding for rabbits? The answer is that it depends. Your rabbit will have a favorite type of bedding, or maybe even prefer no bedding at all. It’s just a matter of trying bedding types until you find the one that works for you. The important thing is making sure you have high quality bedding material that is free of dust and debris and that contains no added chemicals or oils that could harm your rabbit.
How much do rabbits sleep? Rabbits sleep for most of the day and night and are only active during dawn and dusk. They will mostly sleep but may also get up to eat or use the bathroom briefly during the day or night.
How do I know my rabbit is comfortable? Your rabbit may flop down on its side if it’s particularly comfortable in a certain spot, or if it’s happy it may grind its teeth together in a form of purring called “tooth purring.”
What is the best litter box filler for rabbits? Litter boxes can be filled with most of the same materials as bedding. Wood pellets, paper pulp, newspaper, or shredded cardboard can all fill in a litter box just fine. Avoid cat litter, especially the clumping kind.