Where does your rabbit lay their head? Wherever they do, then that’s their home.
It’s their sanctum, their castle, their own special place.
Rabbits spend a lot of time sleeping, mostly during the day, so they need a sleeping area where they won’t be disturbed and where they feel safe, secure, and most importantly, clean, dry and warm!
So, that’s a lot of things to remember hey?!
And they’re all as equally important as each other, however indoor rabbits and outdoor rabbits have much different requirements in rabbit bedding.
With that in mind, I have sectioned this page for your convenience:
- The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – Rabbit bedding has long been a subject of discussion and the experts have examined the evidence – the results are now in…
- Indoor Rabbit Bedding – House bunnies are warm and dry indoors so their needs are mainly security, safety and comfort. Here’s where you can ensure your house rabbits are hunky-dorey, safe as houses and have cosie-toes!
- Outdoor Rabbit Housing & Sleeping – Your average back yard bunny is usually pretty hardy, developing an extra layer of underfur to cope with the chill of winter months, but keeping them dry and free from parasites, fleas and the cold bite of the wind, are major points to consider.
What’s the Difference Between Rabbit Bedding & Rabbit Litter?
- Rabbit litter is the product used inside a litter tray, used for rabbits that are enclosed in a small area or kept in the house. This is where rabbits go to the toilet and can be trained to do so. Rabbits may nibble at it so it must be non-toxic.
- Rabbit bedding is the product used to line their sleeping area. Outdoor rabbits need more. They don’t use the toilet here so absorbancy is not vital. Rabbits will eat this so it should be edible.
NB – Three Important Points to Note:
- Your rabbit will choose where each area is – not you. If they decide the area you have designated as sleeping area is their toilet, then move the litter tray to that area. (It has nothing to do with rabbits wanting privacy when they go to the toilet!)
- If they are in a hutch and pooping everywhere, YOU NEED A BIGGER HUTCH and larger exercise area! Happy rabbits that have a large area to run, exercise and play all the time DO NOT SOIL THEIR LIVING AREAS. Look at wild rabbits – they don’t urinate or poop in their burrows they soil away from their home to mark territory.
- Do not get confused between the two types of poop – Rabbits produce two types of droppings – the hard fecal pellets that you see them poop during the day, and the soft, caecal pellets that they poop out at night and take directly from their bottom and eat.
The Good, Bad & Ugly Rabbit Bedding
Small animals such as guinea-pigs, hamsters and rabbits have long since been given sawdust based bedding products, however evidence now confirms these types of bedding are very dangerous for them, especially rabbits. Why?
Here are some of the best options, some of the ones you could just about get away with and some bedding material that are absolute ‘no-nos’, the ones you should definately avoid:
- Meadow Hay
- Timothy Hay
- Natural Fibre Blankets / Material
- Shredded Cardboard
- Shredded Newspaper
- Wood Shavings
- Any Cedar or Pine Based Products
- All Cat Litters
Indoor Rabbit Bedding
House rabbits tend to like sleeping behind sofas or under tables or beds because they like places that closely resemble their outdoor warrens as possible. Low, dark recesses serve as great sleeping areas as they are similar to underground burrows.
The rabbit in the picture might be relaxing but when it comes to real sleeping at night, they will probably move to a ‘den’ type area, that is not exposed. General ‘down-time’ during the day may be spent in another area, such as a comfy patch on the carpet under a chair and sometimes on your bed!
Free Range Indoor Rabbits
Rabbits that have free-range roaming of your home, much like a cat or dog would, don’t need all the fancy bedding materials often given to rabbits in an enclosed area.
An ideal ‘den’ to them would be under a small table, between two sofas or chairs or under a low bed somewhere. You can make these areas more comfortable by giving them soft blankets and sheets etc. for scrunching up, sleeping on, digging in to and nibbling at. Providing a layer on top of your actual flooring means carpets, rugs and floorboards stay protected too.
Free range bunnies are wonderful and I’m a strong believer that all rabbits should be extended the comforts of this way of living. After all, cats and dogs have that luxury, why not our 3rd most popular pet too?
However, making your home safe is very important. Learn the importance of bunny proofing here. You’d be amazed at what is involved. For example there are certain types of furniture that can be fatal for your little bunny friend.
Indoor Rabbits Cages & Housing
Rabbit bedding like hay, newspaper and such like is not as crucial if your rabbit has free run of your home. But if your rabbit has a cage or indoor housing area to call their own, then bedding material is important to them.
Recycled or shredded paper make ideal bedding material for indoor rabbits in a cage or separate housing area, as it doesn’t stick to their fur and trail all around the house when it’s exercise time.
Making an area exclusive for them also limits the amount of damage to your house and belongings. Creating the right sleeping quarters inside their exclusive housing area will keep them happy as they like the feeling of being safe while they are essentially ‘cut off’ from the rest of the family.
(My indoor rabbits always slept at night under my bed, right underneath my head. They knew I was there and they took comfort in the security of my presence. Not that I was any type of hero! If something went ‘bump’ in the night, I would be a pathetic, jibbering wreck, but hey, they didn’t know that 😉
Keeping it Clean
As rabbits spend so much time bunny flopping, grooming, relaxing and sleeping, in their one favourite area, most of their moulted hair and fluff will accumulate in this one place.
Shredded paper will serve a great purpose for a while but it should be changed on a regular basis to limit the chances of fleas, flies, and other beasties making a home in it too. If your rabbit has a tendency to nibble at newspaper you may want to rethink it’s presence as the ink from the print can be harmful if consumed in large quantities on a regular basis.
Material based bedding is good but will collect a lot of fluff and hair over time so a good hoover round on a regular basis, plus shaking and washing of blankets etc will prevent fluff drifting all around your house.
Outdoor Rabbit Bedding
The perfect sleeping area for outdoor rabbits is a place which approximates a burrow i.e. a roof over their heads and entrance and exit routes. They usually like several of these. You can see this from observing wild warrens.
When my house rabbits became outdoor rabbits – I gave them the choice – they made a Horizontal Leylandii at the side of the garden, their immediate home.
Unfortunately it was right under a holly tree so I had to net all round the bottom branches so the holly leaves didn’t fall in to their new house. I also made it extra snug and secure by placing lots of sand bags round the outer edges of the fur canopy, with 4 entrance and exit routes and I lined inside and underneath the canopy with plenty of soft hay.
They arranged it how they liked and even when I finished building their additional outdoor shed, at vast expense, they still prefer the natural underground surroundings that the tree roots and fur tree umbrella provide.
Bundles of Rabbit Bedding
Over delivering on bedding for outdoor rabbits is a must. Put lots and lots of bedding in their sleeping compartment so they can shape it to make their own nest, just as they would in the wild.
If your poor rabbits are in one of those dreadful rabbit hutches, then you may need to re-think your general perspective of rabbits. Seriously!
Old Fashioned Thinking
I’ve never liked ‘hutches’ and rabbits don’t like them either!
Hutches were originally introduced by the Victorians as an easy, short term solution for keeping their rabbits fat before going in to the pot!
Fortunately, most of us have moved on in our general understanding of rabbits since then, but the habit of keeping rabbits in hutches, has sadly stuck.
I haven’t found many hutches that are suitable for a rabbit. A large shed is really the minimum requirement, with plenty of shelving, tunnels and cubby-holes.
(This is my rabbit’s new shed, which took me a week to assemble with my limited DIY skills. It has a stable door for me to gain access for cleaning and feeding and a small rabbit-sized door entrance which opens directly opposite one of the entrances of their underground tree warren. If it gets very wet or cold they can freely move in to their shed for warmth, food and safe shelter. They love it – but still don’t sleep in it over-night. Perhaps the coming winter may change their minds!)
Newspaper or cardboard provide a good base, with these types of housing, while Readigrass and various types of hay provide warmth and an important food supplement. Rabbits love to gnaw and nibble, all the time, so it is vital that you don’t give them rabbit bedding that could be toxic if eaten or chewed.
Keeping it Clean
Rabbits require plenty of clean and dry bedding which should be replaced when soiled and changed completely at least once a week.
Outdoor rabbits are generally dirtier than their indoor counterparts, as they rumage and dig around in the garden most of the time. They also have many more soiling spots than a litter trained indoor rabbit.
This dirt, debris and mess tends to get dragged back in to their sleeping area. This in turn will attract beasties, the summer months being the most dangerous, with flies laying eggs and increasing the possibility of flystrike, which can be fatal if not dealt with correctly and quickly.
Show Rabbit Bedding
Owners of rabbits with white paws will want to stay away from straw and newspaper as straw can dye the hocks yellow, while print from newspapers can dye them dark grey.
Sawdust is not recommended as rabbit bedding at all. The dust can often get into the eyes and nose of your rabbits and cause irritation. Dusty or old hay or straw can also cause the same problem so check it before you buy. Good hay should always smell sweet, not musty.
If you do live in the 19th Century and house your rabbits in a hutch then you will need to change their bedding at least once a week. Also rabbits like to use one or more corners as a toilet area so you will need to clean the corners out more frequently, perhaps every third day. The hutch should be scrubbed thoroughly with disinfectants once a month but make sure your rabbit has somewhere else to go while it dries as the fumes from the chemicals are very dangerous for your rabbit’s respiratory system.
How to Prepare Your Rabbit Bedding
The most important thing to remember when preparing your rabbit’s bedding is that it should always be clean. The hutch should be clean and dry before you add any bedding.
If you are using paper, cut it into small pieces and fold it into small squares. You can either make a crinkled paper bedding or use paper like shredded newspaper.
You can use fresh grass or shredded hay, or dried grass or hay, or a mixture of these.