Bedding for Rabbit Hutches (11 Popular Choices)

Rabbit owners love to keep their rabbits comfortable and setting up your rabbit’s home so it is clean and cozy from the very beginning is the easiest way to ensure your new friend stays happy and healthy.  When it comes to bedding for rabbits, hay and sawdust are widely used as they are absorbent and readily available in pet stores. However, are these the best options?

We found that there are several other options available for rabbit owners (each with a number of pros and cons) were going to go through these here. Firstly, just in case you’re in a rush here’s a summary of our top 10 rabbit bedding options.

Most Popular Rabbit Bedding Options

  1. Hay
  2. Softwood Shavings or Sawdust
  3. Astroturf
  4. Newspaper
  5. Pulped Paper
  6. Paper Pellets
  7. Paper Shreddings
  8. Fleece Bedding or Blankets
  9. Pelleted Straw
  10. Barley Straw

For this post, we decided to test some of the most popular rabbit bedding.  We carried out a survey among Facebook rabbit owners to see what they used and over a number of weeks we’ve tested all of these beddings out on our own rabbits.

Here are our verdicts on each one.

1. Artificial Grass (Astro Turf)

Astro turf is not widely used in rabbit homes (yet) however we did talk to a few rabbit owners who use it and having used it in our own rabbit runs and our playhouses for many years we can vouch for it being a safe and very hardwearing choice.

Made from a tasteless synthetic material that rabbits seem to have no interest in eating, it has a strong thatch under layer made of polypropylene, polyethylene or nylon material which can be cut with a Stanley knife or pair of sharp scissors to form a perfectly fitting removable flooring mat to put at the bottom of your rabbits home.

Cleaning astroturf is a breeze and a thorough cleaning can be easily achieved by using a coarse scrubbing broom, hosepipe, and some pet-safe detergent.  For quick cleaning dry droppings can be easily removed with a dustpan and brush or a powerful vacuum before a quick spray with rabbit safe disinfectant.

Available in a range of grass lengths, you’ll have to make your own decision as to whether you choose ease of cleaning (shorter lengths) over more comfort (longer lengths).


  • Easy to clean
  • Hardwearing
  • Natural-looking
  • Can be cut to form a removable mat


  • Not very absorbent
  • Can be expensive for larger bunny homes

2. Newspaper

Newspaper makes a good base lining for a rabbit’s home mostly due to its absorbency however it can quickly become messy as soon as your rabbit pees on it.  Rabbits also enjoy tearing and ripping newspaper so it is usually best used as an underlay for another surface material e.g. sawdust.

As with all paper based substrates there is also a small risk of your rabbit consuming large amounts which may lead to digestive issues such as gut stasis.  Care should also be taken to remove staples if there are any as these could cause a serious problem if accidentally eaten.

The best thing about newspaper is the price, it can be obtained and stockpiled for free so it’s available whenever you need it.


  • Freely available
  • Highly absorbant


  • Potential for digestive problems if consumed in large amounts
  • Needs daily change

3. Softwood Shavings or Sawdust

Care should be taken when if deciding to use a softwood litter for a rabbit as the most common litters are usually pine/cedar shavings. 

These are sometimes a popular choice for new rabbit owners as they are relatively cheap to buy from pet stores but while the strong odor of these substrates does an effective job at masking the smell of rabbits urine, the oils that produce these scents can cause serious respiratory and liver problems in rabbits and other small animals.

Dust can also have a negative effect on your rabbit’s breathing, pine and cedar should definitely be avoided unless used as an underlayer for a thick bed of hay or straw. 

If you are keen to use wood as a substrate for your bunnies home, aspen bedding is a much safer option. 

The scented oils that can often be harmful to rabbits and other small animals are not used in its production leaving this bedding odorless and natural.  The lack of any added scent means that it’s much easier to tell when the rabbit needs a clean.


  • Absorbant
  • No scented oils
  • Cheap
  • Eco friendly


  • Pine and cedar oils which can cause serious health issues
  • Non-dust extracted brands may affect respiration.

Note – Due to the potential for health issues associated with pine and cedar shavings, we recommend using only aspen shavings for wood-based bedding.

4. Pulped Paper

Pulped paper products were used by some of our research group are an alternative to wood shavings.  They are often scented which helps to prevent strong odors for longer without the risks associated with pine and cedar shavings. 

As an ultra-absorbent paper product, they do need to be changed frequently to avoid the build-up of harmful bacteria.   

Personally due to the risk of ingestion and the potential for gut stasis we do not recommend the use of any paper beddings although some of our research group used it often with no issues.


  • Highly absorbent
  • Dust extracted


  • More expensive than sawdust or shavings
  • Needs daily change
  • Ingestion may lead to health issues in large amounts

5. Paper Pellets

Usually made from unbleached non-toxic paper, paper pellets are another choice for the bottom of a cage or hutch, however as with all paper products, absorbency means that they can get quite soiled very quickly and will need changing on a daily basis. 

While there is also a risk that your bunny may get a taste for the paper product which could risk the aforementioned digestive issues.


  • Dust-free
  • Soft underfoot
  • Natural
  • Ultra absorbent


  • More expensive than other substrates
  • Needs daily change to avoid bacteria and smell
  • Ingestion may lead to health issues in large amounts

6. Paper Shreddings

Paper shredding products are a good alternative to wood shavings and do not carry the risks associated with pine and cedar shavings.

There are a variety of different shredded paper products on the market all are soft and absorbent and comfortable for rabbits however there still remains the risk of ingestion.

Made with unbleached papers they are light and soft underfoot, non-toxic and non-clumping however as an ultra-absorbent paper product they do need to be changed frequently to avoid the build-up of bacteria and pee smell.


  • Highly absorbent
  • Dust extracted so less chance of breathing issues


  • More expensive than sawdust or shavings
  • Needs daily change as the fresh smell can hide bacteria build-up
  • Risk of ingestion

7. Fleece Bedding/Blankets

We all know rabbits enjoy their home comforts and fleece bedding products are as close as you can get to letting your rabbit share your lovely comfortable bed without actually doing it. 

Fleece liners made specifically for pets usually have a waterproof base, several layers of padding, and a fleece topping that is comfortable and soft underfoot. 

Rabbits seem to have little interest in eating fleece however they may nibble holes in it so careful monitoring will be required.

When it comes to absorbency, the advantage of fleece is that although it can become damp and dirty, it can be machine washed and dries quickly. 

In our own rabbit homes folded fleece blankets make an ultra-comfortable padded bed for our bunnies however due to the possibility of bacteria build-up and smell with the fabric, we ensure to keep it well away from the rabbit’s litter area.


  • Very comfortable
  • Soft underfoot and a safe landing spot for high jumps
  • Machine washable
  • Cheap to buy and replace
  • Dust-free


  • Needs to be monitored for possible ingestion
  • Can get damp if your bunny decides to use it as a toilet
  • Can be a bacteria breeding ground if not washed regularly

8. Pelleted Straw

Like paper-based bedding pelleted straw is a good and comfortable choice for rabbits.  Perhaps more natural than paper-based bedding it is just as comfortable it has the added advantage of being completely edible without any risks to your bunnies delicate digestive system.


  • Comfortable
  • Soft underfoot and a safe
  • Not harmful if ingested
  • Dust-free
  • Absorbent


  • Can be expensive compared to some other beddings
  • Ingestion may lead to health issues in large amounts

9. Straw

Easily confused with hay, straw is readily available in sufficiently large quantities, however, while hay is the staple part of a rabbits diet straw in its raw form is coarse, not very absorbent and does not make a great bedding.

Straw is strong and the ends are sharp with a high risk of poking the rabbit’s vulnerable eyes as it moves around its hutch. 

While there is an argument that straw may be used as ‘padding’ for your rabbit to sit on underneath a more suitable bedding material we think pelleted straw or paper-based bedding is a much better and safer choice.


  • Cheap to buy and readily available
  • Dust-free


  • The danger of sharp ends injuring your rabbit
  • Will quickly become messy when used as a toilet.

10. Hay

Hay is the staple part of a rabbit’s diet and an unlimited amount of hay should be available to your rabbit at all times.  It figures then that hay will be a good natural bedding for your rabbit. 

Unlike other bedding types such as fleece and paper-based bedding with hay you have no concern around your rabbit eating his bed, in fact, you can welcome this behavior.

Hay is cheap to buy although if you’re getting it in large bales it can be difficult to store.  In terms of safety when bought for pets hay is usually dust extracted although small splinters of hay can get into a rabbit’s eyes and cause irritation and a trip to the vet (as experienced by myself).


  • Natural choice
  • Soft underfoot
  • Edible
  • Absorbent


  • Needs daily change

11. Hemp Bedding

Hemp bedding made from the stalk of the hemp plant which is mulched down to a straw like texture to use as animal bedding. 

An ideal replacement for straw, paper, or shavings hemp bedding is highly absorbent, comfortable and the open structure of its pores ensures excellent ventilation of smells from urine and poop.  Rabbits will also enjoy burrowing and digging in this soft substrate.


  • Highly absorbent
  • Dust extracted
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Odor reducing


  • Not as soft as some other beddings
  • Can be messy

Other Popular Choices

Cardboard & shredded cardboard

Cardboard is sometimes used in hutches however, it doesn’t really make a very comfortable surface for a bunny.  It does have some advantages, it is cheap (get it for free with every Amazon purchase or trip to the supermarket). Shredded cardboard is also another widely used choice.

Alternatively, shredded cardboard can be warm, cozy, and absorbent providing its dry and will provide a cool bedding for your rabbit in summer and a warm and cozy bed in winter. 

Made from dust-extracted, corrugated cardboard and often used for horses it’s 100% compostable, so it’s kind to the environment as well as your animals.

Wooden Pellets

Often used as cat litter but becoming more common for rabbits wooden pellets usually have good absorbency however they can become quite mulchy with moisture.  Ingested wooden pellets may also put a rabbit at risk of digestive problems.

Bedding Types to Avoid

Cat litters that are not made from natural materials and anything else that is likely to clump together with moisture are best avoided for rabbits. 

They are likely to cause all manner of issues from becoming stuck to your rabbit’s underside to gut stasis or chemical poisoning if accidentally ingested.  Cat litters are also usually quite dusty which will also cause harm to a rabbit’s respiratory system over longer periods.

Wrap Up

While there are a lot of different beddings available for rabbits, not all are equal.  Each has their own advantages and disadvantages so it’s up to you to research and decide which one is suited to your own particular bunny home and situation.

The most important thing when it comes to any rabbit living space is to make sure it stays relatively clean and bacteria free (bunnies are at risk of life threatening fly strike if they are left to sit in their own poop for too long) so check and change bedding as soon as it becomes soiled to avoid any potential health issues.

We personally opt for an artificial grass surface with a hay bedding area to make sure our rabbits get a cool area as well as a place to eat and poop!


Darren is the founder and editor at Bunny Advice and has been caring for rabbits for over a decade. He has a passion for helping animals and sharing his experience and knowledge with others.

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