Find out when and how to use bedding with your pet rabbits.
Have you seen those photos on social media of people with super nice rabbit rooms that match their house? Or the bunnies that are totally free roam and don’t have any cage time at all? These setups are so far from the cage and bedding method – you might be asking yourself, do rabbits need bedding?
Today, let’s answer that question by taking a look at the different ways to house rabbits and what types of bedding those different setups might need!
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Do Rabbits Need Bedding?
So, do rabbits actually need bedding?
Technically, yes. In just a second we’ll go over a few different ways to house your rabbits. But whether they are in a pen or have a room to themselves, they’ll need some type of bedding material in their litter box.
That’s right – if you didn’t know, rabbits can pretty easily be litter trained. This is what makes it so easy to have those nice rabbit room setups without things getting ruined (well, by poo… things may still get ruined by bunny teeth!).
We’ll go over the types of bedding that are suitable for litterboxes later in this article. But some rabbit setups may need other bedding methods too. Let’s dive deeper into housing options so we can get more specific about bedding choices.
Indoor Housing Options for Pet Rabbits
Not so many years ago, it was really common to keep indoor rabbits in small pet store cages or hutches. This was the norm and was thought to be totally fine.
Care standards have improved quite a bit since then, and rabbit owners now know that rabbits need a lot more space and a lot more enrichment than a small rabbit cage allows for. There are a few different options for cages, pens, and even free-roaming that are much more suitable to keep your rabbits happy.
Now, I don’t actually recommend keeping rabbits in cages. If you must, I would build a large C&C cage that has plenty of space for your rabbits to lay flat out and take at least 3-4 hops in a row. Even then, the rabbits would need at least a few hours of playtime in a bunny safe room every day.
A better option is to keep your rabbits in an x-pen. These are exercise pens made for dogs, but they work great as a ”home base” area for your rabbits. X-pens provide a decent amount of space and usually have plenty of room for your rabbit to move around a bit AND fit a litter box and hay rack, water bowl, hiding places, and a few chew toys. However, even with the space an x-pen provides, I would still give your rabbit a few hours of time outside their pen each day.
The last option I’ll cover here, and my personal favorite is free roaming your rabbits. Now, you definitely don’t have to give your rabbits access to your entire house at all times. Most people will have one designated room that has been bunny-proofed and set up specifically to keep their bunnies. You can have one space in the room for all the essentials (litter box, water bowl, etc.) and provide a lot of enrichment to your rabbits without having to let them in and out of a pen.
So we’ve covered three different housing options here. It’s time to talk about bedding options and how they can be used in these different setups.
Bedding Options for Litter Boxes
First up, we’re going to go over popular choices for litter boxes since pretty much all rabbit setups will need some sort of litter box bedding. Rabbit bedding will be made of some sort of absorbent materials to keep them clean and dry. Your litter box should also have a good pile of hay for your rabbit to enjoy while in their box. Whichever bedding type you choose, it’s important to change it on a regular basis to avoid any health problems.
Before we jump into bedding options you can use, I wanted to quickly talk about a couple of bedding options with potentially toxic materials that you should not use.
You want to stay away from just about any cat litter for rabbits. Especially the scented, clumping, or clay varieties – all of these are unsafe for rabbits and are not suitable to be used in their litter boxes. Scents can cause respiratory problems and any clay or clumping litter can cause major digestive issues if your rabbit were to eat any of it.
Cedar wood shavings aren’t safe for any small animals. Cedar shavings have oils that can irritate a rabbit’s skin and eyes, and the scent is also an issue. Just stay completely away from these.
You also don’t want to use any pine shavings unless they are kiln-dried (and also dust extracted if you can find them). Kiln-dried savings and horse stall pellets are safe to use in litter boxes. Any fresh pine shavings or sawdust is not.
Paper Based Bedding
Paper-based bedding is one of my favorite types of pet bedding. It’s made from paper or paper pulp and is totally safe for bunnies. It’s pretty absorbent and I like that it’s soft since my bunnies also like to lay in their litter boxes. It also gives them a comfortable place to relax. I’ve used paper bedding in my rabbits’ litter boxes for years without any issues at all. You can also find paper pellets that work well, though they aren’t as comfortable.
My absolute favorite bedding is the Small Pet Select Paper Based Bedding. I’ve used it for years and it works great in my rabbits’ litter boxes. You can buy it in pretty large bags too, which is nice when you have a lot of animals that need to use it. It’s a great bedding option.
The only cons of paper-based bedding are that it doesn’t do much in the way of odor control. I clean my boxes about every 2 to 3 days and replace them with fresh bedding. If you have long-haired bunnies, they may also get tracked all over in your rabbits’ hair. Depending on the brand, some paper-based beddings can also be pretty dusty.
Aspen shavings are also a great option for rabbit litter boxes. They are a little bit cheaper than paper-based bedding but will still work pretty well.
Shavings are not going to be too absorbent since they are wood. This means you might have to change them a bit more often than paper-based bedding in order to keep the smell down. Shavings are also not the most comfortable bedding, but they are still a good option.
Small pet select has some pretty good Aspen shavings too.
Bedding Options for Cages
The bedding you use in your rabbits’ pen or cage is going to be different than what is in their litter tray. Bunnies need a lot of space, so filling it all up with paper bedding or shavings is not going to be very practical or cost-effective for most people.
In general, bunnies don’t need the entire floor of their area covered when they are litter trained. If they are on a slippery surface, a rug or blanket may be fine. There are some popular options that are easy to clean that I’ll mention here.
This is what I choose to use under my rabbit’s litterboxes and water bowls, or in areas I know they’re going to make a mess. To use fleece, you need it to be properly wicked and have an absorbent layer (like an old towel) underneath. It works great for home base areas for free roam bunnies or to cover the floor of a c&c cage.
The nice thing about fleece is you can just throw it in the washing machine. Just shake the hay off outside, wash it, and reuse it! It’s a good choice if you want something cost-effective.
The only thing to be aware of with fleece is that a lot of rabbits will chew it up. You don’t want them to be ingesting large amounts of fabric (which can be harmful to your rabbit’s health) and it can be annoying to constantly have to replace your fleece.
These can be a great option to cover a larger area like an x-pen or home base area. These are made out of foam and lock together to create one large piece. They will protect your floor and are usually pretty easy to just wipe down to clean. They can be good for older rabbits because they provide a softer surface for the bottom of the cage. Shop puzzle tiles here.
The downside of these, again, is that your rabbits may chew them. Some people cover them with a layer of fleece to prevent this and just replace the piece of fleece instead. You don’t want your bunnies to be eating the foam, so if they start charging them up you’ll need to go with a different option.
Final Thoughts on Whether Rabbits Need Bedding
Choosing the right bedding for your rabbits’ setup is important to make sure they stay happy and healthy. Litterbox bedding is going to be the most important choice, but you want to make sure all of your bunnies’ areas are comfortable for your pets and easy to clean.