Can You Use Wood Chips For Rabbit Bedding?

Rabbit Bedding

Being a pet owner, especially a rabbit parent, one is usually always thinking of how best to make the rabbit comfortable. Bedding is a subject that pops up regularly, especially with novice rabbit owners. Truth is, rabbits don’t really need beddings. Most rabbit owners already provide soft floors for their rabbits which should be more than sufficient for them.

Rabbits do not necessarily need extra bedding for warmth except they are outdoor pets. Then, they would need one for cover and shelter as well as throughout the winter period. If the latter isn’t yours and your rabbit’s case, it may be only necessary to use beddings for your rabbit’s litter. However, if you want to make your rabbit more comfortable outside, there is nothing stopping you from doing so.

Using bedding indoors may actually make it harder for you to litter train your rabbit as having conventional bedding all over your rabbit’s enclosure will make them more inclined to recognise it as their litter box. 

Can You Use Wood Chips For Rabbit Bedding?

The very appropriate answer for this question may just be “it depends”. Wood shavings or chips are not the greatest for a rabbit. In fact, wood shavings can be extremely poisonous for your rabbits especially if they are made of Cedar or Pine or any other dangerous source woods. These wood products can increase the risk of cancer.

Although there is no conclusive data to support this, it might just be better safe than sorry. The concern surrounding these suspicions is also the phenols in these woods which cause them to be aromatic. These phenols go into a rabbit’s system by inhalation and may affect the rabbit’s liver. Concerns are that the inhalation of the phenol may very well increase enzyme activity in the rabbit’s system.

While some researchers claim that this does not translate to it causing a disease, many advise avoiding it altogether. So can you use wood chips for rabbit bedding? You should probably stick to the safer options at least until there’s substantial evidence that anything of wood can be used.

What Wood Shavings are Safe for Rabbits?

Bedding picks can be nerve-racking and choosy but it is always best to find options that are dry, safe (checked for any insects or harm) warm, clean and able to keep your rabbit comfortable. It is also important to pick the ones that should the rabbit eat that would not cause any issues to them or for you. When using wood shavings, you must always make sure they are put in a well-ventilated area.

As earlier mentioned, research and opinions on Cedar and Pinewood shaving options for beddings are inconclusive. Many owners prefer to use other products entirely such as paper beddings, straw bedding, hay beddings, etc. However, we have found that the safest person option for your rabbit is Aspen bedding. 

Aspen bedding is made from Aspen wood and does not have nearly as much phenol (in fact, not at all) as other woods such as Cedar and Pine. It is also a relatively cheap option and one that rabbits can be nibble on without having any physical or internal damage. It is also dust-free and many rabbit owners report that is great for masking bad odours. They are readily available at the store.

Aspen wood shavings are also a good option if you’re a lover of the environment as aspen is eco-friendly and lacking in toxicity. 

What Alternatives Can I Use for My Rabbit’s Bedding Instead of Wood?

Bedding for rabbits are almost inexhaustible in options. There are so many varieties in different grades, prices and types. You are sure to find an option suitable for you and your little friend. Before we mention the alternatives, you want to ensure a few things before you pick a bedding option:

  • Always look for beddings that will leave no dust  in order to avoid respiratory problems
  • Ensure that you go for as natural as possible products in order to reduce the risk that processing can cause. 
  • Make sure that the bedding option you pick will be able to absorb any liquid waste such as urine and water. 
  • Avoid anything that’s not actually harming your rabbit when breathed in or eaten.  

Some beddings that meet most of these criteria are:

  • Hay beddings: These are especially cheap and can be used from the ones bought for the rabbit’s feeding.
  • Straw beddings: straw is a lot drier than hay and while it cannot double as the rabbit’s main food it is safe to eat and very cheap. It is also readily available. 
  • Wood pellets: These have already been processed by heat and also reduce the risk of your rabbit getting hurt or ill from phenols and oils which may be unsafe. 
  • Paper beddings: These can be used as long as there are no glues, ink or other material on them that can hurt the rabbit. It is also great because of its recyclability. Some options include shredded paper, cardboard, etc.
  • Fabric bedding: these include towels, blankets or thick clothes that can be used as bedding. 

Why Does My Rabbit Eat Wood Shavings?

Rabbits are always chewing, always nibbling. If you are a rabbit owner, you must know nothing is safe from your rabbit’s chewing. From furniture to toys to clothes, whatever. So it should not come as a major surprise that your rabbit is eating wood shavings from its bedding.

In actual fact, you should pretty much expect it. It is even one of the things you must consider when preparing bedding for your rabbit. Here are a couple of reasons why your rabbit may be chewing on or eating the wood shavings:

– They are Inquisitive

Rabbits are highly sceptical of any new thing. They naturally are also very inquisitive. They want to make sure it’s safe, it is good to smell and to be around. Your rabbit will chew on any new thing including its own bedding in order to satisfy its curiosity. It is just a very natural instinct. 

– Frustration, Dissatisfaction or Boredom

Rabbits are incredibly social animals and can get incredibly bored when they are not receiving enough attention or when they have been cooped up in a place for a long period of time.

As a result, they may get incredibly frustrated and will show or vent out that frustration by chewing on their beddings. 

– They are Wearing Down Their Teeth

A rabbit’s teeth grow at least 1 cm every month. It never stops for the full lifetime of the rabbit. Hence, one of the reasons rabbits may be showing on the wood is to wear down their teeth. If they do not do this, rabbits will have a lot of health and dental issues.

Eating hay or chewing on hard objects or things like wood shavings is their way of wearing the teeth down. 

– They are Hungry

Sometimes we may not be feeding the rabbits as much as it needs to be fed. Rabbits need a sufficient amount of food but not too much to get overweight. Sometimes, in a bid to ensure that the rabbit does not get overweight, we may actually begin to underfeed it.

The rabbit will then be forced to eat the wood shavings for its bedding in order to fill its stomach. Your rabbit needs constant fibre in its system and a lack of that may cause it major health issues.

You must also ensure to feed your rabbit according to its size and age. This means that the quantity for one rabbit may not be the same quantity given to another.

Can Rabbits be Allergic to Wood Shavings?

Yes, Rabbits can be allergic to wood shavings. It also largely depends on the type of wood that the rabbit has been exposed to. If your rabbit is allergic to anything, you will find that it may begin to sneeze and have watery eyes. Certain kinds of wood that most rabbits might be allergic to are Pine and Cedarwoods.

Rabbits have sensitive noses and are constantly smelling anything that is presented to them. It is not atypical for your rabbit to even reject some treats, toys or even the pet owner because of how strongly they may smell. Pine and Cedarwood in particular are very aromatic because of the high phenol in them.

Sometimes, as a result of their allergies to such strong-smelling wood, the rabbit may develop respiratory problems.

The problem may also be in the Rabbit ingestion of the. Some of these woods that are dangerous to your rabbits can include:

  • Peachtree wood
  • Apricot tree wood
  • Elder tree wood
  • Oaktree wood
  • Etc.

Avoid using wood shavings from wood that may contain cyanide, phenols, and tannins. It is best to stick with safe woods such as Aspen. 


Having or setting up bedding for your rabbit is always a good idea as long as the needs of the rabbit are considered to the fullest. Your rabbit will thank you for it.

Written by Justin Michaels

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