It’s like a universal rule that once you get a pet, you have to constantly worry about whether or not they’re comfortable. That’s especially true when they’re small, fluffy, and adorable!
Rabbits are energetic and playful, so they’ll spend a lot of time moving around. When it’s time for them to rest, they’ll nap almost anywhere.
So, do they require bedding? If so, what bedding is best for rabbits? Keep reading to find out!
Do Rabbits Need Bedding?
Depending on where you keep him, your hopping friend may or may not require bedding.
Yes, bedding is required if you keep your bunny outside in a hutch or a similar enclosure. This is especially important in the winter to keep them warm.
Not that these lovable creatures don’t like the cold; quite the opposite!
Rabbits can tolerate colder temperatures quite well, though they prefer to stay in temperatures between 60 and 65°F.
They can withstand temperatures as low as 40°F, and in some cases even lower. They have warm fur coats and thick fur pads on the bottoms of their feet to help them survive cold weather.
However, it’s recommended that you bring your bunnies indoors when temperatures fall below freezing.
If your furball is staying indoors with you, bedding may not be necessary. He’ll be just fine as long as there’s soft flooring on which he can lay.
In fact, any piece of cardboard you place in your rabbit’s habitat will quickly become his best friend; this is a proven fact!
In case you want to spoil your buddy a little more you can go for a grass or woven hay mat.
Just be sure to purchase a grass mat designed specifically for rabbits because they’re made of non-toxic materials. Remember, your furry friend will nibble his way through anything!
If you don’t want to get a mat but still need to add an insulation layer for your rabbit during the winter, we’ll go over some bedding options below.
3 Things to Consider When Choosing Rabbit Bedding
Before we get into the best bedding options for your bunny, we’ll go over the criteria that were used to select them.
When choosing rabbit bedding, there are mainly three factors to consider:
1 – Safety
As a rule of thumb, if you’re unsure whether something is safe for rabbits to eat, don’t put it in their enclosure.
Rabbits, as you may know, enjoy chewing on things. It’s not like they can control it; it’s more of a biological urge.
To explain, in the wild, rabbits like to nibble on plants and grass they come across. That’s a trait that they retain even after being domesticated.
Not to mention how this desire increases when they’re bored; chewing becomes their full-time job!
Therefore, you must select bedding that’ll not harm your buddy if he decides to make a meal out of it.
2 – Absorption
As much as bunnies love chewing, they love marking their territories. To do this, they’ll spray urine and might even decorate the place with droppings.
Unneutered male rabbits and unspayed female rabbits specialize in this act. By the way, if you notice that they smell like pee, it could be because they’re actually covered in it.
One of the reasons why some rabbit owners neuter and spay their bunnies is that they spray each other with urine as a form of marking their belongings. Love will be in the air, but not in a good way!
Aside from this territorial behavior, rabbits pee frequently—between 2 to 8 times daily. To be more specific, they urinate between 120 and 130 mL/kg body weight per day.
Thus, if you don’t use a material with good absorption properties as their bedding, you’ll be disappointed with the results.
With the markings and accidental peeing, the bedding should be able to soak all this up and dry quickly.
Otherwise, your bunny won’t enjoy the wet feeling, and you’ll certainly not enjoy the stink.
3 – Comfort
To keep your furry friend cozy and happy, choose comfortable bedding. Even though rabbits aren’t picky about where they sleep, you should still use bedding that’s smooth and soft.
For instance, paper pellets can be great as litter but are quite uncomfortable to sleep on.
On the other hand, a towel or blanket will make your buddy warm and snug. That said, make sure your rabbit isn’t eating too much of the towel or blanket to avoid harming his digestion.
Can You Use Shredded Paper for Rabbit Bedding?
You may have seen or heard of shredded paper as a rabbit bedding option. So, is it safe to use it?
Here’s the thing, shredded paper is extremely cheap and widely available. We have to say that it’s a good option for your furry friend’s sleeping spot, but it’s definitely not the best.
This is because some materials, such as the ones we’ll share with you shortly, are more absorbent. Paper tends to take a relatively long time to dry completely.
The problem is that if your bunny decides to pee on those papers, they’ll become super sticky. They can cling to his cage, his feet, or any other surface they come into contact with.
Not to mention that the smell lasts a little longer with lower absorption levels.
Nonetheless, if you ever find yourself having to use shredded paper, it must be:
The shredded paper you use in your buddy’s habitat must be ink-free. Otherwise, if your rabbit starts munching on these papers, he could get ink poisoning.
This is one of the reasons magazine papers are a no-go. They’re mostly made of low-quality ink that can be harmful to your pet.
We know, most newspapers are now printed with soy ink, which is less harmful. However, until you know for certain the type of ink used in a piece of paper, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Moreover, the papers should be smooth and soft to be gentle on your rabbit’s body. They must also be pretty thin to avoid sharp edges that could cause paper cuts.
What Bedding Is Best for Rabbits?
We’ve put together a list of four materials that worked well as rabbit bedding; take a look:
1 – Straw
We’ll start with the most suitable material for bunnies’ bedding, straw. It’s soft and absorbent, so your pet will be comfortable and you won’t have to worry about foul odors.
Better yet, rabbits can safely consume straw. After all, it’s just dried plant stalks, so they won’t do any harm, and the best part is, rabbits don’t particularly enjoy eating it.
It’s critical that you select straw types that are labeled as soft or super soft and dust-free.
Dust, in case you didn’t know, can be quite dangerous to your bunny. Dust allergies in rabbits cause itching, sneezing, and eye irritation.
2 – Hardwood Shavings
Hardwood shavings are another excellent choice for your rabbit’s enclosure. That is, assuming you get a high-quality package made especially for rabbits.
If you use low-quality wood shavings, you risk bringing a lot of dust into your furry friend’s home.
Aspen wood shavings are the most commonly used type for small animals. This is because they have much lower phenol concentrations than softwood.
Softwood shavings are any type derived from conifer trees such as pine, fir, and cedar.
Simply put, phenols are dangerous chemicals that can cause serious harm to your pet. They were shown to have an effect on rabbits’ livers and their ability to handle standard drugs.
What’s more, it’s currently being investigated whether they pose cancer risks, but more research is required.
3 – Wood Pellets
You can give your bunny wood pellets to sleep on. The type of wood doesn’t quite matter in this case as these pellets are heat processed and so free of harmful chemicals.
You can even use cat litter wood pellets. However, steer clear of using clay-based litter as litter or bedding for your rabbit. This type of litter is highly dangerous to rabbits if consumed.
4 – Pulp Paper
The softness of pulp paper is ideal for making comfortable bedding for your bunny. This type is dust-free, safe, and simple to clean.
Aside from being highly absorbent, pulp paper clumps when completely soiled. This makes it easier to locate the part that needs to be taken out and separate it from the clean parts.
What Is a Common Problem With Rabbit Bedding?
We thought we’d share with you a common bedding issue that bunny owners face so you can avoid it. That is, rabbits are prone to mistaking their bedding for litter.
As a result, you might find your buddy peeing in his bedding whenever he needs to answer the call of nature.
That’ll cause a slew of other problems. The first and most important is that the effort you put into potty training could be jeopardized in a matter of days.
The second issue you’ll face is the mess and foul odor that’ll appear when your rabbit uses not one, but two spots in your house as his bathroom.
That sounds like the perfect recipe for our unwanted guests, insects!
So you’ll have to clean two places every day to keep the strong smell of their urine and bugs from filling up your house.
The golden rule is to make the rabbit’s bedding out of a different material than his litter. To avoid confusion, you should also try to keep both apart.
If your bunny is still mistaking his bedding for litter, it’ll help if you can remind him that it’s not.
You’ll use the same methods you used when potty training him. When you notice his tail is lifted, carry him to his litter box.
It’ll also be extremely useful to keep your furball’s urine odor from settling on the bedding. In fact, if he pees on the bedding by accident, take the spoiled part and place it in his litter box.
To clarify, the presence of his urine scent will aid in directing him to the location where he’s supposed to pee.
On a side note, don’t be worried if your rabbit can’t seem to stop pooping outside his litter box or on his bedding.
That’s related to the territorial behavior we discussed earlier, so he may never stop doing it.
If your hopping friend is staying in your home, bedding may be required only during the winter.
If your rabbit is kept in a hutch, you should add a soft layer for him to sleep on and to keep him warm on cold days.
What bedding is best for rabbits? All four materials mentioned in this article are excellent, but you must ensure that they’re dust-extracted and that you choose a safe type of wood.
That’s all for now; please pass on our kisses and cuddles to your cute furball (s)!
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.