Rabbits are delicate creatures. And unlike other pets, they tend to eat their bedding. While you try to make your bunny’s bedding as comfortable as possible, you also have to make sure it doesn’t contain any toxic materials.
In this context, a lot of people ask if they can use wood shavings for rabbits. Although it’s recommended not to use any kind of wood shavings at all, it’s possible to use certain types of hardwood shavings if you have no other option.
Wood shavings can cause respiratory problems in bunnies and therefore they should be avoided.
In this article, we are going to find out what makes rabbit bedding totally safe and comfortable. We will also look at what types of wood shavings are safe for rabbits so you can make sure your rabbit doesn’t end up eating poisonous material.
So, let’s get started.
What Kind of Bedding is Best for Rabbits?
Rabbits use their litter box for multiple purposes. Although it’s intended to be used as a toilet, these furry creatures also start using it as their kitchen and bedroom.
And therefore to make sure they don’t end up eating anything toxic, the materials used to make the litter box should be both edible and safe. Particularly the top layer shouldn’t be composed of anything unnatural and something that is obtained from unknown sources.
The best kind of bedding for bunnies is made up of shredded paper and fresh hay. You can also find ready-made litters for rabbits available on the market, such as CareFresh. These are sustainable litters made from untreated natural wood and paper fiber.
You have to make sure the bedding you choose for your bunny is free from harmful chemicals and pollutants. A rabbit’s bed is made up of multiple layers with one of them being the absorbent layer to absorb all types of odors and keep it dry and fresh.
Some people use sawdust to make this absorbent layer in a rabbit’s litter. This type of material contains oils and phenols and it can cause skin irritation as well as other health problems in rabbits.
To make a safe absorbent layer, you can add a sheet of newspaper to your bunny’s litter tray. However, a newspaper should not be eaten by the rabbit so you need to keep an eye on it and change it frequently.
Can You Use Wood Shavings for Rabbits?
You can use wood shavings for rabbits but they are not recommended because not all wood shavings are safe for consumption. Softwood pellets are known to be safe as they are made of 100% white wood and contain no bark.
Certain types of wood shavings are to be avoided for rabbits at all costs. Pine and cedar shavings are two examples that shouldn’t be used for rabbit bedding. In addition, it is not recommended to use any type of wood shavings that have an unknown source.
On the other hand, aspen shavings have been found to be safe for rabbits. Other hardwood shavings may also work just fine. However, any type of shavings that contain phenols can get absorbed in a rabbit’s internal organs and cause inflammation. It has particularly been found to alter liver enzymes in rabbits and ultimately cause health complications.
The build-up of fumes from these wood shavings can also cause irritation to the eyes. It’s kind of an allergic reaction in which the bunny also starts experiencing noisy breathing and sneezing.
Sawdust when consumed will not be digested by a rabbit’s sensitive digestive system. As a result, it might cause a blockage and lead to gastrointestinal stasis, which can even prove to be fatal in some cases.
Wood pellets are known to expand when wet. Pulped paper, on the other hand, is a safer and better option as it also absorbs bad smells and is an environmentally friendly product. When looking for rabbit bedding, always make sure it’s biodegradable and made from natural materials.
Some people also use aubiose, which is usually used for horse bedding but since it’s safe and affordable, you can use it for rabbit bedding as well.
What Types of Litter to Avoid for Rabbits?
Many people think that cat litter can also be used for rabbits. Cats use their litter in a different way from rabbits as they don’t end up eating it. Moreover, rabbits are sensitive and delicate and their digestive systems are also very complex.
Make sure you avoid the following types of litter for your bunnies at all costs;
Since rabbits like to munch on hay when they use their litter box for defecating, they may end up ingesting some of the clay. Clay can cause digestive blockages in bunnies and therefore it should be avoided. In addition to digestive problems, the dust from this type of litter can also trigger an allergic reaction in rabbits.
Pine and cedar wood shavings
While some hardwood shavings may be safe for bunnies, pine and cedar are particularly regarded as unsafe and harmful. It has been observed that the phenols found in these types of softwood varieties tend to get absorbed in the body and cause the liver to produce an excessive amount of counter enzymes to fight them. This can ultimately lead to liver damage in bunnies.
While some animals may not be affected by scented litter, rabbits are sensitive and may get sick due to chemicals found in these types of litter. In addition to respiratory irritation, a rabbit may want to avoid using such a litter altogether due to the strong scent. Some aromatic wood shavings also fall under this category and should be avoided.
Clumping litter is often used for cats because it is designed to be highly absorbent and makes the waste collection very easy. This type of litter forms tight clumps of waste, which are then easy to remove with the help of a spatula. Clumping litter is usually made from bentonite clay, which has been linked with a number of health problems even in cats. For rabbits, this type of litter is completely out of question.
Are Cat Litters Safe for Rabbits?
No, most cat litters available on the market are not safe for rabbits. Cat owners usually use clumping, clay, and crystal litters for their kittens. But all these types of litter can cause digestive and respiratory problems in rabbits.
Some cat litters may be regarded as safe for rabbits though. These would be composed of paper and natural, untreated wood. If you plan on using such a litter, don’t forget to add a top layer of hay to make it more comfortable and safe for your bunny.
It’s best to avoid wood shavings for rabbits as some of them can be toxic for these furry friends. Moreover, some rabbits stop using their litter box if they sense it might not be safe for them. It is therefore important to choose the type of litter for your bunny very carefully and sensibly.
Sawdust and wood shavings are a popular choice for animal litter because they are quite absorbent and easily accessible. However, for rabbits, it is not a recommended choice as it may cause many respiratory and digestive problems in these animals.
Unscented litter, which is totally free from all types of chemicals and toxins is a preferred choice for rabbits. Since these animals end up eating their bedding, you should be careful not to add anything that may cause respiratory and other health issues in them.