Rabbit Bedding: Everything you need to know

Published: May 30th, 2021
Last Updated: April 30th, 2023
Written By: Bradly Spicer
Rabbit Bedding

Rabbit Bedding is a hot topic in the rabbit care community. Some people use litter as bedding. Some use bedding as litter, etc. Traditionally bedding was only used for outside cabinets to keep your rabbit warm, however, as time has gone on, this has changed for both indoor and outdoor rabbits.

Whilst you don’t actively need bedding for an indoor rabbit, it’s perfect if you have hard flooring as it gives your rabbit an area to stay comfortable. For outdoor rabbits, bedding is used as insulation rather than comfort to keep them warm during the night or during winter.

One thing to note is that using bedding in an area that you don’t need it can actually create bad litter training habits, hence the confusion between bedding and litter. If you have an indoor rabbit, try to keep bedding to your rabbit’s litter box and nowhere else, for elsewhere use soft mats or square carpet tiles.

What is the difference between bedding and litter?

This is actually a more common question than you would think. You can use bedding for both sleeping and as litter in most cases, but you can’t really use specific litter as your rabbit’s bedding. When litter training your rabbit you should identify a spot that they like to use as a loo and put it in a cat litter box with a safe litter base.

One of the more common options for both bedding and litter is Aspen Shavings or if you’ve run out, just use normal hay with some newspaper underneath.

If your rabbit is extremely well trained with litter training, you could use a blanket or old shirt for bedding instead.

Does your indoor rabbit need bedding?

Simply put, no. Your indoor rabbit doesn’t necessarily need bedding in their enclosure as they should be out of the wind and in a room temperature location constantly. You can use bedding as rabbit litter but there are lots of alternatives out there that absorb urine etc much better.

Typically, rabbit bedding would have been used for winter days, cold weather, and staying warm in the winter.

If you have a pair (Male & Female), bedding is perfect for a doe who is pregnant as it allows them to create a secure nesting area.

With an indoor rabbit if you have a particularly cold room they stay in, can simply have a heating pad wrapped in a blanket or old shirt to keep them warm. These usually last a few hours and as long as they have some form of bedding they should be fine.

If you don’t have a dig-box, definitely check out some of the wood-shaving bedding alternatives as these can be used along with hay, treats, and shredded paper to make a fantastic dig-box boredom breaker.

Is comfort important?

Rabbits typically prefer to sleep on a flat surface, we have hundreds of photos of this as proof. This is why flat carpet tiles are perfect as it gives them a specific area to make smell their own and relax.

You’ll often find in the summer they’ll prefer a big hardwood area or ceramic tile as this will not only keep them a lot cooler but for owners is a much cheaper option to regularly clean out bedding!

Is rabbit bedding comfortable?
Our rabbit Link loving an ice pack and lay down on his carpet tile

If you do provide bedding, blankets, etc be prepared for them to be thrown everywhere as not every rabbit wants it! Let them design their sleeping space and get comfortable how they want to. At the end of the day, your rabbit knows what is best for themselves and if that includes making a very big mess, so be it!

Why else should I avoid bedding indoors?

There are quite a few reasons to avoid your standard bedding whether it’s straw, wood shavings, or a blanket. It can actually confuse your rabbit into thinking that their bedding area is the same as their litter area which results in more cleaning, a terrible smell, and potential attraction of bugs which can lead to fly strike and other diseases.

Here’s a list of reasons why you shouldn’t be using bedding indoors:

  • Certain types of bedding can confuse your rabbit and result in poor litter training – Using traditional bedding material for your rabbit’s comfort can often trick them into thinking this is no different from their litter box. As training rabbits is mostly done via habit and persistence, this is an easy way to get them to make a mess in the completely wrong areas.
  • Requires regular cleaning – Bedding can be a massive area for bacteria and bugs to collate, you’re going to want to be cleaning this regularly to avoid diseases and a potentially deadly fly strike. The last thing you want is your rabbit contracting RHD2 or Myxomatosis due to lack of cleaning.
  • Bedding isn’t always easy to clean – Depending on the type of mess your rabbit makes along with the bedding type you’re using, you can easily spend high amounts by putting it all in the bin and then thoroughly scrubbing away with vinegar water and rubbing alcohol.
  • Bedding gets everywhere – Even if you clean the bedding regularly and thoroughly, you’re going to find it everywhere in your home. It is easily trampled into the carpet and carried around not only us but your rabbit. It can become a real pain to clean if you don’t have a powerful vacuum!

Outdoor rabbit vs Indoor rabbit bedding types

After having 3 rabbits, the majority being indoors I can safely say that having an indoor rabbit is much better. Their life expectancy is much higher, they’re a lot more social and it’s nice to just have your furry friend around the house.

If you do however have an outdoor rabbit, it’s important to understand that they need bedding for cold nights and winters. There are plenty of different types of bedding that you’ll need to consider, some insulate the heat and others help keep your rabbit comfortable.

What bedding to use for my rabbit:

  • Using Hay as bedding – A very expensive choice but great for your rabbit’s health and it works well as a heat insulator. If you have an outdoor rabbit this will need changing regularly to avoid dampness and mold which can cause severe health issues.
  • Wood Shavings – You’ll only want to use Aspen wood shavings for health reasons, pine, cedar, and other sources should be avoided entirely. If these wood shavings get wet from rain or urine they will need changing ASAP to avoid bacteria build-up.
  • Shredded Cardboard or Recycled Paper – This is perfectly fine to use, although you’ll want to keep an eye and make sure your rabbit isn’t eating too much of it. We use it for our digging boxes and it’s perfectly safe. You can often get this from pet stores or from packaging in boxes.
  • Blankets, Towels, and old shirts – Old shirts are a particular favorite of ours as it keeps your scent in the area your rabbit is in to help them feel safe but also provide something to nibble on (In small quantities) for comfort as well as being soft!
  • Straw – Honestly not really worth it. It’s a good insulator but has no nutritional value or benefits if your rabbit does eat a bit. There are better options and can become moldy just as quick as hay does.

What bedding & Litter should I avoid?

  • Clay-based Litter – These are notoriously known as cat litter and can cause serious respiratory issues with your rabbit. Unfortunately, rabbits like to try eating this litter which can result in stomach blocks and following GI Stasis.
  • Non-Aspen-based wood shavings – If you’re looking at Wood Shavings you should avoid Pine & Cedar Wood Shavings. Phenols within these shavings have been found to lead to liver problems in rabbits.
  • High quantity dust-based litters – Anything which has sawdust or small particles can be particularly bad for your rabbit as it results in respiratory issues and damage to their lungs. Definitely avoid this one!

Despite what some Facebook groups say, there’s most definitely some litter & bedding that you shouldn’t be using for your rabbit as it can cause a lot of damage and extremely high vet bills.

Should I give my indoor rabbit something else to sleep on?

Some of us like to pamper our rabbits a stupid amount so we’ll often be questioning how we can make them even more comfortable. Each rabbit will have its own choices and desires, ours prefers to sleep on a flat surface and chooses to ignore all the beds we’ve purchased over time.

If you can, try out some of these alternatives:

What to feed a rabbit downloadable sheet
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