Do Rabbits Need Hay For Bedding? (All You Need To Know)

Rabbits require safe and comfortable bedding. However, some owners need clarification while choosing the best bedding for their rabbits that fulfill all their requirements, including hygiene and health. 

Hay is the staple food of a rabbit. So, can we use it as a rabbit’s enclosure or litter box bedding? Do rabbits need hay for bedding? Can rabbits eat hay bedding? Let’s find out all your answers in this article.

Hay bedding is safe, warm, and comfortable for indoor and outdoor rabbits. However, it is less absorbent, molds quickly, and requires a frequent change every 2 to 3 days, depending on your rabbit’s urine. Instead, you can buy shredded paper, aspen, or wooden shaving as a rabbit’s bedding.

This article will briefly discuss hay bedding and its pros and cons. Also, how to select hay for your rabbit? Can rabbits eat hay bedding? And many more. So, let’s get into it.

Does my rabbit need hay as bedding?

Rabbits require warm and comfortable bedding, and hay as a rabbit’s enclosure bedding is a better option.

However, it should be provided for a short period as a temporary solution if you have a shortage of other bedding materials or any other issues.

Hay is an excellent option as a bedding for your rabbit as it is edible and not harmful to them.

In addition, the staple diet of a rabbit is hay, which is rich in fiber, and fiber is beneficial for a rabbit’s gut system to function properly.

Similarly, rabbits’ teeth grow 1mm daily, and eating hay will also help trim their overgrown teeth.

Hay as bedding for rabbit’s enclosure fulfills all the requirements except controlling odor and moisture.

Also, it is essential to remove the soiled material of hay regularly if you have chosen hay as your rabbit’s bedding.

Timothy hay and meadow hay are better than other kinds of hay because they are excellent choices for rabbits’ unlimited feeding needs.

You can use the hay bedding for the rabbit’s enclosure and the litter box.

Can rabbits eat hay bedding?

Hay beddings are safe to eat and nutritious for rabbits.

Hay contains a high amount of fiber and no calories, which is essential for a rabbit’s diet.

Most of the bedding could be toxic because rabbits have a habit of chewing on everything.

But hay bedding is edible, warm, and comfortable for rabbits.

In addition, rabbits can consume anything, including their bedding, to explore, have fun, and keep their teeth in good condition.

So, this needs to be considered while selecting your rabbit’s bedding.

Timothy hay and meadow hay is the best choice for bedding as it has a pleasant smell and is highly absorbent.

However, you should need to change it frequently because it doesn’t control the odor and mold quickly.

Hay is a budget-friendly option for your rabbit’s bedding, as you can buy it at reasonable prices depending on the sizeable amount of hay bags.

Also, the hay should be fresh, which you can buy from the farmer or the market.

It will be significantly less expensive to purchase hay by the bale from a nearby farmer or riding stables if you have space to store it and want to use it as the primary bedding for your rabbit.

Avoid purchasing dried and dusty hay because it is unsuitable for your rabbit’s bedding.

In addition, make sure the hay you choose has a pleasant smell, isn’t very dusty, and doesn’t contain any mold.

There are many other options for rabbit bedding, but hay is freely available in any space. 

You can provide Oxbow Timothy Hay to your rabbit as it is sweet-smelling, nutritious, and fresh, which you can easily buy from amazon.

Also read: Why Is My Rabbit Only Eating Hay?

Do rabbits need hay bedding for the litter box?

Your rabbit can receive hay in many ways, such as hay racks affixed to the side of the cage, boxes or baskets inside the enclosure, exercise area, or even in the litter box.

Placing hay in your rabbit’s litter box can assist with litter box training since rabbits frequently pass stool when eating.

To provide hay bedding for a litter box, add some rabbit-safe litter as the litter box’s base and then layer it with the hay bedding.

In addition, you should not be concerned about hygiene because rabbits will not consume soiled hay.

Similarly, to improve your rabbit’s mental exercise in food gathering, you can tuck some hay into a toilet paper roll and other hiding areas.

Also read: Do Rabbits Need Hay Rack?

How to select hay for your rabbit?

Finding a reliable supply of hay and choosing high-quality grass is crucial.

Throughout the season, hay texture and quality will change according to harvest time and weather.

In addition, most bale hay is a mixed hay kind, and each field will have a different amount of mixed grass hay.

The hay for a rabbit should be fresh, clean, and dry.

Old, damp, crumbly, or dusty hay is unsuitable for rabbits.

Also, storing the hay in a dry, well-ventilated place in your house is essential.

In addition, leave the hay bag open rather than closing it.

Similarly, always have fresh hay available in your rabbit’s enclosure, exercise area, or pen to feed them an unlimited amount of hay.

What are the benefits of hay bedding for rabbits?

Hay is the staple rabbit food, containing 90% of their diet.

The bedding of hay could be helpful for rabbits because they chew everything, and hay is the safest and most nutritious option.

Eating hay is not only beneficial for your rabbit’s gut system to work correctly, but it also helps prevent dental issues.

So, here are some benefits of hay for your rabbit and its bedding:

  1. Available: Hay is easily available in the market. Also, there are many options to choose from, but timothy hay is much better than other hay types.
  2. Warm and comfortable: In winter, hay bedding is best for rabbits to keep them warm and cozy.
  3. Affordable: Hay is much more affordable and cheaper than other bedding for rabbits.
  4. Nutritious: Hay is the staple food of rabbits, which is rich in fiber and other vitamins, minerals, and proteins, which they require in their diet.
  5. Dust-free: If you purchase good quality hay, it is dust free than other beddings like wood shavings because dust is harmful to rabbits’ respiratory systems.
  6. Litter training: Hay can also be used for litter box bedding to train your rabbit.
  7. Natural: The warmest and most comfortable bedding is made of natural materials, and hay does the job well. Hay is a natural bedding material that you can provide to your rabbit.

Also read: Why Is My Rabbit Not Eating?

What are the drawbacks of hay bedding for rabbits?

Although hay bedding is safe and nutritious for a rabbit because it is edible and comfortable for rabbits, there are some drawbacks of hay bedding:

  1. Need to be changed frequently: It is essential to change the rabbit’s hay bedding frequently to keep it moister-free and to maintain hygiene. In addition, hay bedding requires regular cleaning every two to three days to maintain hygiene.
  2. Less absorbent: Hay bedding does not properly absorb a rabbit’s urine, which is not a good option for maintaining hygiene.
  3. Mold: Due to its poor absorbency and your rabbit’s urine, hay bedding becomes moldy and requires you to change it frequently.
  4. Poor odor control: Hay bedding is inadequate in controlling the odor of a rabbit’s urine.
  5. Rabbit pee on it: Your rabbit can frequently pee on its enclosure hay bedding if it is not litter-trained.
  6. Bacteria: Hay bedding can also develop bacteria and germs if your rabbit urinates on it and makes it moist, which is unsuitable for your rabbit’s health.

What are the other alternatives to hay bedding for rabbits?

The bedding of a rabbit should be safe for your rabbit because they tend to chew on everything.

Many options are available for a rabbit’s bedding, but it is essential to select the right one because some of the bedding can cause blockages in your rabbit’s intestines.

So, here are some other alternatives to hay bedding for your rabbit if you don’t have hay for their bedding.

1) Aspen bedding: 

These bedding are made up of aspen woods. 

Aspen shavings are soft, highly absorbent, dust free, and don’t contain any volatile oils, which is safe for a rabbit.

Also, for incontinence, rabbits with nighttime accidents will benefit significantly from this bedding.

However, it is not that good to control the odor of your rabbit’s urine.

So, it may require cleaning and frequently replacing to maintain hygiene and control odor.

2) Shredded paper: 

Shredded paper bedding is soft and comfortable for a rabbit.

This kind of bedding is frequently offered as little animal bedding at pet stores.

The most significant kind of paper to shred is standard, plain paper. In addition, your rabbit won’t consume possibly harmful ink this way.

We recommend using Carefresh paper-based bedding for your rabbit, which is highly absorbent and comfortable for a rabbit, that you can easily find on amazon.

This paper-based bedding is safe for your rabbit’s sensitive feet, controls the odor perfectly, and is dust-free, soft, and comfortable for small animals like rabbits.

3) Kiln-dried pine:

Pine bedding is cozy, soft, and comfy for rabbits. Additionally, it effectively absorbs the urine of your rabbit.

However, all types of pine bedding are unhealthy for rabbits, although they may seem like ideal hay bedding.

Your rabbit’s liver enzymes may change due to the phenols in pine wood, which may change how a rabbit’s body functions with medication.

Therefore, kiln-dried pine of high quality is the safest option for rabbit bedding.

Also read: Is Pine Bedding Safe For Rabbits?

4) Straw bedding: 

Like hay, straw bedding is natural, cheaper, and secure for your rabbit.

However, it is not highly absorbent and contains dust particles that harm your rabbit’s respiratory system.

So, buying dust-free or compressed straw bedding is essential for your rabbit.

5) Wood pellets: 

If your rabbit has a habit of nibbling on everything, then wood pellets are the best and safe option for bedding.

Wood pellets are highly absorbent, dust-free, and don’t contain phenols and harmful oils.

However, having different beddings of rabbit’s enclosure and the litter box is essential.

6) Fleece/towel/blanket:

It is acceptable to add fleece, a blanket, or an old towel as your rabbit’s bedding if they ingest little.

It is dust-free, cheaper, washable, and reusable.

However, they may require to clean it frequently because it doesn’t control the urine odor properly.

Also read: Fleece vs Bedding For Rabbits?


  1. Hay is an excellent option as a bedding for your rabbit as it is edible and natural.
  2. Avoid purchasing dried and dusty hay because it is unsuitable for your rabbit’s bedding.
  3. Timothy hay and meadow hay are better than other kinds of hay because they are excellent choices for rabbits’ unlimited feeding needs.
  4. Placing hay in your rabbit’s litter box can assist with litter box training since rabbits frequently pass stool when eating.
  5. Wooden pellets, aspen shavings, fleece, or shredded paper are other alternatives to hay bedding.

Reference: NCBI, NCBI

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