Having the right bedding material or litter material for your rabbit is not only essential to their health, but it also needs to fit your budget. Pine shavings have always been an economical option, but are pine shavings good for rabbits?
Pine shavings that are kiln-dried and free of moisture can be suitable bedding and litter box material. When the pine shavings are damp and have formed mold, it can lead to toxicity in your rabbit’s liver. Fine and dusty shavings can lead to respiratory problems, so use a larger flake size shaving.
Let’s find out why pine shavings can be used as litter and bedding for rabbits, which shavings are safe, and what to look for when purchasing pine shavings.
What Bedding Is Best for Rabbits?
The best rabbit bedding will depend on each individual rabbit, but pine cedar wood shavings have always been the traditional bedding of choice. Great bedding types include shredded paper, natural fibers, wood pellets, carpeting, aspen flakes, and hay.
Each of these different bedding options has its pros and cons, but by knowing which is safe, you can make an informed decision.
Are Pine Shavings Toxic to Rabbits?
When the shavings you buy are kiln-dried pine, heat has been used to dry the wood completely so no mold can form and no bacteria or parasites can survive the drying process.
If you buy shavings from a disreputable dealer and the shavings are dark in color, smell moldy, or are lumpy, these pine shavings can absolutely be toxic to your bun.
The toxicity of pine shavings comes from mold spores that can infect your rabbit’s lungs, and the mold can also lead to hepatic microsomal enzymes being produced in your rabbit’s liver, leading to illness and eventually death.
Pine Shavings for Rabbit Beds: Controversies
Would you then want your bun to sleep in a bedding material that could potentially kill them?
After all, not only can rabbits get ill from the potential mold of air-dried pine or cedar shavings, but the dust from fine shavings can lead to respiratory problems too as rabbits have a sensitive respiratory system.
The controversy is that while there are risks to using pine shavings for bedding or litter material for your rabbit, pine shavings are also cheap and widely available. If you buy kiln-dried shavings from a reputable supplier, the risks are minimized since the shavings are heat-dried. Bunny-specific shavings will also have a larger flake size to minimize dust.
Other Options for Rabbit Beddings
If pine shavings are too much of a risk, you can opt for different bedding materials.
Hay is a natural bedding material and is cheaply and widely available too. However, hay can potentially make your rabbit sick if you use hay as bedding and litter box material since your rabbit may not know where they should sleep and where they should potty. This can lead to your bun eating urine and poop-contaminated hay.
Changing out a hay bed is also more time-consuming and it may need to be changed more frequently too as your bun’s business may be soaked and stamped into the hay fibers, necessitating a full bed and litter box change.
If you prefer a flakey bedding material, then aspen shavings are a great alternative to pine shavings. Aspen shavings are also kiln-dried, scent-free, and more hypoallergenic.
One downside to aspen shavings is also the lack of natural smell. Pine shavings will reduce the tell-tale rabbit-bedding-litter smell while aspen shavings simply absorb moisture. When litter training your bun, pine shavings may be a better choice.
Straw is a wiser choice than hay as your bun is less likely to munch at a straw. However, if your bun has sensitive feet, straw husks can cut the bottoms of their feet. Straw is also less warm than pine shavings, not as easily available, and less absorbent if you use a straw for bedding and litter box material.
Older buns really love shredded paper for bedding, though there is some controversy over the presence of printer ink in shredded paper bedding. Luckily, modern printers of newspapers and other paper sources use vegetable-based inks now instead of heavy metal-containing ink like in the olden days.
Shredded paper bedding is soft, absorbent, supports older rabbit joints, and won’t be eaten. Disposing of shredded paper bedding is not as easy though as it may not compost as well and can’t be flushed away.
Carpeting, Grass Rugs, and Tile
Some rabbit breeders are also asking why not do away with traditional bedding types for rabbits as many rabbits enjoy lying on a cool tile or a soft section of carpet when sleeping. Using a section of plush carpet as bedding for your rabbit can be an option to consider if your bun is litter trained as cleaning out rabbit urine from carpet is a nightmare.
The issue of the dyes used in making carpeting is a challenge, which has prompted many bun owners to use natural grass rugs to pad their rabbit’s sleep area.
A final option is to use old towels as a soft place for your rabbit to lie. However, the threat of your bun nibbling at the toweling can be a real danger as towel fibers can lead to digestive disorders and twisted guts in rabbits if ingested.
When using toweling as rabbit bedding, be sure to inspect the towels regularly to check for any chewed parts or edges that have frayed. On a whole, toweling is soft, warm, and comfortable as bedding material, and you can wash it easily to sanitize the cage.
My Last Bunny Bedding Thoughts
Choosing the right bedding material for your bun can be a challenge, and while pine shavings are a popular option, it isn’t the only one. Consider the pros and cons of each bedding material, keeping in mind what is available in your area and what your vet recommends based on your bun’s unique health.
Pine shavings are a great option, but be sure to buy from a vet-approved dealer and only opt for kiln-dried shavings that are dust-free.