Are you worried that your bunny’s delicate feet might get sores from their cage?
Or do you want to make cleaning their hutch easier?
Well, whichever your case is,
There’s one question in your head that remains unanswered…
“What are the safe options I can use as my rabbit’s bedding?”
Keep reading to discover:
- 15 things you can put in the bottom of your rabbit cage.
- Several harmful materials that you should steer clear from.
- Whether it’s okay to use paper or cardboards as their bedding.
- The list of pros and cons for each material that’ll help you decide.
- And a lot more…
What to put in the bottom of a rabbit cage?
Put non-toxic and absorbent materials in the bottom of a rabbit cage. These are safe to eat and can absorb any fluids. Straw and hay are mostly used in outdoor bunnies. But if yours is indoors, natural mats, cotton towels, fleece, and plush bed are good too. As well as pellets, shavings, and papers.
Top 15 things to put in the bottom of a rabbit cage
Rabbits in outdoor cages need bedding to keep themselves toasty during the cold days.
It gives them insulation, especially at night.
And among all the materials used, straw is the most recommended one.
This is because its dried stalks are effective in trapping warm air.
Plus, straw absorbs liquids well too. So it’s perfect if ever your rabbit makes a mess in their cage.
Also, it’s considered safe and edible to rabbits. And we all know that bunnies love to chew on anything.
So they’ll likely nibble on their straw bedding too if they’re bored or curious. And since it’s safe, you don’t have to worry if they started munching on it.
But, wait a second.
Although straw is safe to be ingested…
It’s a bit harder on a rabbit’s teeth. Also, compared to hay, it has little nutritional value.
This is why straw is more suitable as bedding. And not as part of a bunny’s diet.
Note: Your rabbit will also appreciate some snacks. For this, also put some hay on their straw bedding. This will satisfy their urge to eat and chew. Plus, it’ll also prevent boredom.
Interesting fact: Mother bunnies make a nest before giving birth. And studies show that the material preferred by 87% rabbits is straw. So your bunny (pregnant or not) may also feel most comfortable on it.
Next, some people may confuse straw with hay.
So let me describe both in a few words.
First, hay is dried grass with a bright green color. And when you smell it, it has a fresh and sweet scent.
On the other hand, straw refers to dried hollow stalks that are yellowish in color.
So there you go.
Now, it’s known that hay is the most important part of a rabbit’s diet.
According to the RSPCA, they need a minimum of 1 bundle of this per day. (That’s a lot!)
However, did you know that it’s also possible to be used as bedding?
Yup. But take note that hay is more expensive than straw and it needs to be changed quite often.
Plus, it isn’t as good as straw when it comes to absorbency.
But if you want safe and all-natural bedding, you can’t go wrong with hay.
Also, putting it as a base of their cage may help if your rabbit eats less hay than their daily needs.
This is because they’ll be motivated to chew on them when they’re inside.
Remember, eating hay keeps a rabbit’s teeth healthy. And its fiber also aids in good digestion.
So it serves 2 purposes. One as bedding and another as a healthy snack.
Note: Straw and hay beddings are common in outdoor rabbits. But you can also try this in your indoor rabbit.
#3: Grass-woven mat
Straw and hay are loose materials.
This is why it can be messy at times. And it could a bit tough to clean them up.
For this, you may just lay a mat on the bottom of your rabbit’s cage.
It’s easy to remove for cleaning. Plus, it can also make protect your bunny’s feet from sores.
And if you want a natural one like straw and hay, consider this grass-woven mat.
“What are its advantages?”
First, mats are easy to clean.
This kind, in particular, only needs some wiping if your bunny pees. And you’ll just pick up their poop as well.
Apart from this, here are more of its pros:
- It can keep them warm.
- It provides good traction.
- It’s soft and has a natural odor.
- It could serve as a foraging area.
- It’s safe to be chewed on by rabbits.
Just make sure that the grass-woven mat is:
- Free from adhesives.
- Natural (without chemicals).
- Doesn’t have plastic or metal bits.
However, it also has some downsides
One is it’s costly.
But as long as your bunny doesn’t destroy the mat in a minute, it can be used longer.
Also, same with straw, grass mats are safe – provided they’re all-natural.
But rabbits may consume more of this as well than hay. And eating too much may cause stomach issues or blockage in the long run.
Note: Observe your bunny in their cage. See if they’ve been nibbling on their bedding a lot. If so, they might need more hay or exercise. Since stress and boredom can also make them chew more than usual.
#4: Sisal rug
Do you want another natural mat option?
If so, you may also try a sisal rug.
This is safer than a shaggy one as rabbits can ingest its loose pieces. Plus, it’s also better than mats with harmful materials (e.g., rubber backing, synthetic fiber).
Also, sisal rugs are:
- Easy to clean and vacuum.
This is available in different sizes. But if you need a small mat for the cage, find a non-toxic cat scratch rug like this one.
Note: If your rabbit is a big chewer, this may not be the right one for them. Sisal rugs are natural, but since they have to be durable, they’re quite tough. So chewing on them can cause teeth or tummy problems to your bunny.
#5: Fleece blankets
Let’s now move on to softer materials like fabric.
Well, people might think that all rabbits need something comfy to lie on.
It’s true for some. This is because other bunnies prefer soft materials to hard surfaces.
It’s not always the case.
But, if your fur baby is like the first one, they might like a fleece blanket under their feet.
“What are its pros?”
Fleece blankets are absorbent and washable.
Also, good-quality ones can last long even if you clean them many times.
Just make sure that the one you’ll buy isn’t easy to pill.
Rabbits love organizing things too.
Since blankets are soft, they can easily manipulate these to their liking.
Lastly, loose threads won’t be a problem.
This is because fleece blankets don’t unravel like towels. So these don’t pose choking or blockage hazards.
But still, watch your rabbit closely to be safe.
Note: It’s best if your rabbit is already litter trained before you use this as bedding. Why? So that they won’t confuse this (or any fabrics) with their litter.
#6: Old cotton towels
Good-quality fleece blankets may also be costly.
But almost all of us have some old cotton towels at home. And using them as bedding is a great way of reusing them.
These are economical. Plus, you could easily find one in your drawer or closet.
However, it’s less safe than fleece fabric.
Cotton isn’t toxic to rabbits.
But when they ingest too much fiber, it may cause a blockage as well. And this can lead to death if no immediate actions are taken.
Note: If you see your bunny eating the towel, remove it at once. Then consider the other options here that are safe for big chewers.
#7: Plush dog/cat bed
Does your bunny often sleep on soft pillows?
Or does your rabbit always rest on your dog’s or cat’s fluffy bed when they’re not around?
If this is similar to your case, your fur baby might prefer a plush bed instead.
Like rugs, these are also washable and easy to clean.
Although some rabbits can chew on and destroy it as well.
But if you see that your bunny is content by simply taking a nap on it, that’s alright. So have no fear.
#8: Vinyl flooring
But is your rabbit the complete opposite of the things I said above?
If the answer is yes, you may try vinyl flooring.
Instead of soft beds, some bunnies might like to sleep on hard, cool surfaces.
So for this, vinyl flooring can be a great idea as it doesn’t cost much. It’s easy to install and you can cut it to fit their cage exactly.
You can buy this at DIY stores. Just search for ones that are more durable to wear.
Vinyl is also easy to clean. Plus, you don’t have to worry about stains.
Vinyl flooring also comes with drawbacks.
- It’s not absorbent like straw and fabric. It needs frequent wiping.
- It doesn’t give enough traction. So if you have an older bunny or if they have issues with walking, this isn’t the right option.
- It’s made from synthetic material. It’s bad for your rabbit to ingest some of these.
To prevent the last one, ensure that the flooring fits their cage perfectly.
Then cover the edge that they usually chew on with something heavy – like a piece of ceramic tile. So that they won’t be able to scratch and nibble on it.
Note: The tip doesn’t 100% guarantee that your bunny wouldn’t chew on it. They can be creative or desperate at times. This is why if you know that your bunny chews everything, don’t consider this.
You might also want to know: 23 Tips To Stop A Rabbit From Chewing Everything (How-To)
#9: Aspen wood shavings
As I said in the beginning, beddings were originally intended for outdoor rabbits.
But these days, people also put bedding in an indoor bunny’s cage.
Not mainly to keep them warm but to protect their sensitive feet.
Since cages are usually wired. And they don’t have a comfortable base.
For this, experts advise using different materials for bedding and litter. This is to avoid confusion on your rabbit’s part.
But some parents also have success stories. And they use litter materials.
One of those is aspen wood shavings.
“What are their advantages?”
- Soft texture.
- Springy effect.
- Good absorbent.
I’m specific with this one because some kinds of wood can be toxic to rabbits. Say, cedar, pine, or unknown types.
So if you’d like to try this, stick with aspen.
It’s safe for bunnies. But as long as it’s bought from a trusted online shop or pet store.
As you don’t know whether ones bought from a lumberyard are safe or not.
#10: Paper-based pellets
This one is a favorite of most bunny parents. Both as litter or bedding.
These pellets are made from compressed recycled paper. So they’re:
Paper-based pellets are good in odor control as well.
And in terms of cost, you may also save a lot when you use this. Since it lasts longer than other types of litter.
But for your bunny’s safety, ensure that what you’re going to buy is:
- Doesn’t have clumping effect.
- Without any harmful chemicals and synthetics.
Note: Pellets can be harder than straw. So if you want, add some straw or hay on top as well if your rabbit likes soft surfaces.
#11: Wood-based pellets
One of the things that you SHOULDN’T put in the bottom of the rabbit cage is sawdust.
It has small particles and these can get into your rabbit’s eyes and nose.
This may irritate their skin too. As well as their lungs due to the oils in the wood.
But sawdust is usually cheap and compostable.
So if you’d like a similar (but safer!) option, try wood-based pellets.
These are compressed sawdust. And just like paper-based ones, these are also good for odor control.
These are safe too. But as long as it doesn’t clump like cat litter.
Clumped pellets can cause blockage in a rabbit’s tummy when ingested. And this might cost them their life.
Note: Read the labels carefully. Avoid pellets that have silicon as their ingredient as it’s dangerous for pets.
#12: Shredded tea bags
Going back to paper materials…
There are also unused pieces of tea bags that are sold in the market.
These are offcuts that are left from tea production. And they’re now used as bedding or nesting material.
Some may have residues of tea. So it could smell like a teahouse inside your room. (This might either be a good or bad thing.)
Not only for rabbits but also for dogs and other small animals.
- Good absorbency.
These are also cost-effective. This is because, like other litter, you only have to remove the soiled part – not the whole one to clean it.
#13: Shredded blank paper
Now, tea bags might not always be available in all places.
So search for some paper in your drawers and shelves instead. And I’m sure there’s enough to be used a rabbit’s bedding.
Why you should try this?
Paper has excellent absorbency and insulation.
Plus, it’s cheaper compared to the other options listed here. Also, it’s eco-friendly.
You can recycle papers that you’re not using anymore. And you can compost these after your bunny soiled them.
What to do?
For your rabbit’s safety, choose plain or blank ones. And also, the softer, the better.
So avoid papers that have prints and adhesives.
Rabbits can eat some of these and inks are toxic to them. While glues may cause blockage.
Then after you’ve collected some, cut or tear them into shreds.
And put enough to cover the whole bottom of your rabbit cage.
Note: Eating some paper may not cause harm to your rabbit right away. But if they consume too much, they’re prone to stasis. (The slowing down of their gut.)
If you want to know more, read this article: Can Rabbits Eat Paper? 3 Dangers, 4 Reasons, & 5 Tips
#14: Soy-based ink newspapers
I know. This might contradict what I said earlier.
But if you can’t find anything else at the moment…
Newspapers may also do.
“Wait. They’re printed.
Is it really okay?”
Well, they’re not 100% safe.
But newspapers nowadays use non-toxic printing inks.
Experts say that above 90% of the newspaper printers in America use soy-based ones instead. So chances of toxicity are low.
Back in the early days, petroleum-based ink is used in all newspapers. But according to specialists, this has substances that cause cancers.
They’re called volatile organic compounds, a.k.a. VOCs.
A study on a printing press in Kuwaiti found that workers are exposed to these toxic chemicals.
And the most commonly found in the area are:
- Vinyl chloride.
- Benzyl chloride.
A petroleum-based ink may have some of these. So this is something you should avoid.
On the other hand, soy-based ones are non-toxic. Plus, they don’t harm the environment too.
So it’s safe to be ingested by your bunny. But as long as the amount they consumed isn’t high.
How to check if your newspaper is made of soy ink?
- Smudge and rub its surface. If much black ink sticks on your finger, it’s likely out of petroleum.
- Find a light source and put the newspaper in a location where you can see through it. If the prints light in color and lack clarity, they’re petroleum-based.
#15: Plain cardboard
Lastly, if we’re talking about absorbency…
Cardboards are also great on that. So you could put this in the bottom of their cage as well.
Yes, you can finally put those boxes and plain milk cartons into good use.
But like papers, there are also things you need to consider first.
Make sure that the cardboard you’ll use doesn’t have:
- Metal parts.
- Plastic labels.
- Glossy surfaces.
- Adhesives (e.g., glue, tape).
Industrial cardboard or ones that are too thick should also be avoided.
They might be too hard on a rabbit’s teeth. Plus, they may contain dust or metal.
Warning: Again, consuming too much of this may cause serious tummy issues for your rabbit. Even more so if they don’t eat enough hay daily. This is because fiber can help prevent blockage.
Further reading: Can Rabbits eat cardboard?