Thursday, December 31, 2009

Litter Types For Rabbits

Meadow hay/straw: This is one of the cheapest and most readily available litter, but you must line the bottom of the tray with a thick layer of newspaper. It can be used to encourage rabbits to eat more hay and straw, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. It is easy to clean as when the litter is soiled you can simply roll up the paper and throw it away. This type of litter tends to be a bit messy so should be used with a high sided litter box or a plastic dog bed/storage box to keep it contained. The sharp seed husks of barley straw can cause injury to the rabbit’s paws, so you need to shake them out before putting it in the litter box. Make sure the hay and straw are dust extracted so they do not contain mites or mould.
Dried grass: This can be used as a litter, it is more nutritious than straw and hay but it is also quite expensive.
Chopped barley straw: This is similar in consistency and appearance to wood shavings and it is a bit messy for indoor use. The small particles may also irritate the rabbit’s eyes and respiratory system.
Pelleted straw litter: This litter is absorbent, breaks down when wet and can be easily disposed of in the garden. The litter has a natural fragrance which helps disguise the smell of urine.
Peat/garden soil: This is quite am absorbent litter, but it looks a bit ’dirty’ indoors. It also tends to cling to the bunnies fur and falls off around the house, so it is quite messy. Rabbits love to dig and roll about in compost so it is best kept in a large tray in the garden.
Corncob litter: This litter is fairly absorbent and has a pleasant smell. However it may be tasty to your bunny resulting in weight gain from eating it, and it is very expensive. Like other organic litters it can become mouldy so the tray needs to be cleaned on a regular basis (mould is toxic to rabbits).
Recycled paper litter: Like the brands made for cats, this litter is available in flakes and pellets. It is dust free, light weight and absorbent but make sure your bunny does not ingest large amounts. Recycled paper should not become mouldy.
Shredded newspaper: This litter is not very absorbent, but it is adequate providing your bunny does not chew on it. Plain newspaper is not recommended as it is not very absorbent, and the bunny may step on the urine, resulting in splash back and leading to urine burn.
Paper pulp bedding: This is a natural litter made from reclaimed wood fibres that are too short to be used in paper production. This litter is very absorbent and has good odour control. It is light weight and easy to carry. It does not contaminate wounds, therefore is ideal for post operative care, rabbits suffering from sore hocks, sensitive skin, etc. It is sanitised to kill bacteria, mould and fungus so it will not harm your rabbit if ingested. Its has no added inks, dyes or chemicals, unlike recycled paper litters. The paper wont scratch floors, it can be vacuumed up, flushed, composted and is biodegradable.
Clumping cat litter: This is not recommended for rabbits. It is generally made of a substance called sodium benotine, a naturally swelling clay. When liquid is added it expands to approximately 15 times its original volume. As bunnies are very clean animals, if it is ingested it swells in the stomach forming a mass and lining in the digestive tract. This causes dehydration both by drawing fluids from the rabbit and preventing the absorption of nutrients and other liquids. As a result the bunny may develop diarrhoea (in an attempt to cleanse her system), an internal blockage or even die.
Other cat litters: Non clumping, dust-free cat litters and a safer choice for your rabbit. They are lighter than ordinary clay and are available from pet shops and supermarkets.

No comments: