Litter types (given in the order I tried them, with ratings!):
I had a nice packet of straw bedding. This was before I used a litter tray but I had heard that some rabbit owners line their cages with straw. Straw is quite safe for rabbits as they can eat it (even if it has little nutritional value, it helps teeth wear down) but after two days of cleaning the corner of the cage that was being used, I quickly switched to the next type: Wood shavings.
Absorbability: 1/5 – dripping wet straw and many cloths to absorb urine.
Odour Control: 2/5 – Straw does not smell bad to begin with but with some urine, it does not smell very good either.
Safety: 5/5 – does no harm to your rabbit if ingested.
Ease of Use: 1/5 – cleaning is quite annoying as you have to pick the clump of wet straw and then wipe up the excess liquid.
Price: 4/5 – Straw is not too expensive and Pets At Home do a double compressed bag that lasts quite long without taking so much space.
Actually I did not intend to use wood shavings but after the straw disaster, I grabbed some of my hamster’s wood shavings and shoved it in a ‘corner’ style litter tray. They did not readily take to using that so I got a cat’s litter tray which they did use. Never use scented shavings. They may smell pleasant to our noses but it is too strong and perfumed for any pet’s sensitive noses!
Absorbability: 2/5 – shavings do not ‘soak’ up urine very well as the liquid tends to just spread. However, you are not left with dripping liquid.
Odour Control: 2/5 – Does not really control odour.
Safety: 4/5 – I’ve never notice my rabbits eating this however, depending on how good the quality of the wood shavings is, be careful of sharp bits as I once received a splinter from handling wood shavings.
Ease of Use: 2/5 – easier to clear up wet patches than straw as you get less dripping.
Price: 4/5 – big bags of wood shavings can cost quite cheap in some pet stores but because of the poor absorbency, you may find yourself using more shavings.
Instead of floundering around aimlessly, I looked online and came across something called Megazorb. This is a wood pulp based litter that had been dried at a high temperature to destroy spores and bacteria. It claimed to absorb ten times as much as straw, to have great odour control, to be economical and as a bonus, it was fully biodegradable. This was originally designed for horses so it comes in big bags of 85 litres that look like they can last a good few months. Some rabbit owners swear by this stuff so I ordered a bag to try.
Absorbability: 4/5 – This absorbed most of the urine but left the top quite wet.
Odour Control: 1/5 – for some reason, my bag smelt worst than my rabbit’s urine. I am not sure if it’s a batch problem or just the way Megazorb is. At any rate, it was smelly enough to attract a number of small flies into the bin.
Safety: 5/5 – My bunnies occasionally took a nibble but I never noticed any ill effects.
Ease of Use: 4/5 – Easy to scoop up wet areas and since it was a big bag at a good price, I was not afraid to use more. However, because you cannot use a cat pooper scooper to ‘sift’ droppings out, I wore gloves and picked it out.
Price: 5/5 – possibly the cheapest litter per litre you will ever find. Between £7-10 for 85 litres.
I used this for a few weeks before the smell and the little fly that would fly out of the bin every time I put something in the bin, unnerved me.
UPDATE: I am back to using this. My current batches do not smell as bad as the first one and even though the smell is not as good as Back2Nature, the cheapness of it meant that I am using this one again.
It seems that I always turned to my hamster in times of urgency. When Megazorb finally drove me over the edge, I grabbed my hamster’s bag of Carefresh (I used to put carefresh in the corner where he went to the toilet and use wood shavings elsewhere, as wood shavings would stick to the plastic and stain the cage when wet with hamster urine) and added it to the Megazorb litter. I never tried using just Carefresh as it was so pricey to use that way since I spot cleaned the tray twice a day. I would use a small handful in the corners of the tray that were frequently showered with rabbit urine and the rest of the tray was filled with Megazorb. In a way, this reduced odours.
Absorbability: 4/5 – Did a little better than Megazorb but surface would still be slightly wet so I could not give it a 5.
Odour Control: 5/5 – It seemed to work well in this respect, I did not smell anything bad from the Carefresh however my opinion could be biased since I could still smell the Megazorb at that time.
Safety: 5/5 – since it’s made of wood pulp like Megazorb, I cannot see anything wrong with it in terms of safety. I hear it makes great bedding material.
Ease of Use: 4/5 – same limitations at Megazorb but easy enough to remove from the litter tray. I liked that Carefresh came in several colours and I used the white one as it allowed me to easily spot which areas were soiled.
Price: 2/5 – it felt very expensive to me even though the price range per litre you get is similar to litters like Yesterday News and Back 2 Nature. This may be due to the fact that they say its 14 litres compressed down to 6 litres. As Carefresh is quite ‘airy’, you end up using a bit more of it so this 14 litres turn 6 seems to run out very quick, even if I am only using it in corners.
I used the rabbit version after I finished my bag of Carefresh but they no longer produce that one since it was the same as their cat litter. Both were the same anyway. This is a paper based litter that is made from recycled paper. The litter comes in the form of hard pellets however they now have a softer range that I am not very familiar with as that was not available when I tried this litter. Since my rabbits enjoy sleeping in their trays, I would have used the softer range if I was still using this brand of litter. I really liked this litter until I discovered a few problems with it.
Absorbability: 4/5 – absorbs pretty well and the pellets keep their shape so cleaning is quite easy. However, because the pellets are quite hard, when my rabbits urinated, it would take a minute to absorb the urine. This means that unless you want your bunnies to get wet feet, you will need to put a thick layer of the litter so the liquid could seep through and get absorbed by the bottom bits.
Odour Control: 3/5 – doesn’t actively mask smell but smell is not too strong once urine is absorbed.
Safety: 1/5 – for my bunnies that like to sample their litter, I would say that Yesterday’s News is completely unsafe. I used this in November 2011 so if standards have changed, feel free to let me know and I’ll be willing to try this again as I would have kept to this litter if it were not for the fact that I found MANY things in the litter that were definitely NOT recycled paper. I found bits of coloured plastic embedded into the pellets. I also found bits of foil. I only noticed this when I was looking at all the colour in the pellets and I started breaking up the pellets to see where these colours came from only to find foreign particles that should not have been in a paper based litter. When I found these particles, I did a bit of research online and it seems I am not the only one to have found these pieces. Some people have found metal and one person wrote an article about it. The article is no longer accessible but there is a copy at this link. There are also people who are dismissing this issue but I’ve picked out these bits in the bag of litter I used and I know that, I for sure, would not want my rabbits to ingest the ‘extras’ in this litter. It was extremely disappointing to see that they advertise it as safe to eat when it really isn’t. If you do use it, do check your trays when refilling or put a grid on top to prevent your rabbits from having access to the litter.
Ease of Use: 5/5 – you can spot straight away which parts are soiled and which are not. It is possible to use a litter scoop with the right size holes and sort the droppings out of the tray via a sifting motion.
Price: 3/5 – a bag felt like it lasted longer than Carefresh but you would find yourself using a bit more to stop wet feet.
Back 2 Nature
After being really upset with my discovery of foreign particles in a recycled paper litter, I turned to Back 2 Nature. Maybe I am just picky but at this point, I was feeling pretty sure that I would never find a litter to stick to. I bought a small bag of Back 2 Nature to try and was surprised to find something that works and is safe. This litter is advertised as >99% recycled paper with no additives and chemicals. I presume that less than 1% has been placed there to protect them should something turn up but the additive and chemical free paper appealed to me. The litter is soft pellets. Not as soft as Carefresh but makes quite a nice bed to lie on for your pet.
Absorbability: 5/5 – absorbs liquids straight away whilst retaining its shape. Pellets do get soggy though, but that’s to be expected. I only put a small heap in the corners where my bunnies do their business , as I clean the tray everyday and refill it when needed, and the surface only starts to look wet after the rabbit has gone several times.
Odour Control: 4/5 – it does alright in this sector. No strong nasty smells when I am using it. The only time when its odour control capabilities fail is when the bin with used litter is almost full. Still, it does not attract flies the way Megazorb did for me.
Safety: 5/5 – after using Yesterday’s News, I scrutinize every refill of the tray I do and so far I’ve found coloured paper but not plastic or metal. I am really please with that as I do not worry if my rabbits eat a bit of the litter anymore.
Ease of Use: 5/5 – soiled areas are darker so easy to spot. Droppings are sift-able using technique outlined in the litter training section.
Price: 3/5 – I’ve worked out I use approximately a 30litre bag per month with 2 trays to fill. This is more expensive than some of the other ones I’ve used in the past but since it does what I need it to and it’s not the priciest one, I am happy to keep using it.
For the time being, my search has ended there however, there are several other litter types I have heard of that has caught my interest.
This is made from straw and is sold as bedding and litter. I first encountered this litter at the London Pet Show 2012 but they’ve been making litter for some time now. It is advertised to absorb up to 400% of its weight, odour binding, low dust, safe if ingested and bio-degradable. The straw has been pulverized into pellets so there should not be any sharp pieces. I am quite keen to try this one out as I was quite impressed with their store demonstration at the London Pet Show. I will post up some results when I have. Click here to learn more.
Another paper based litter made for cats but adopted by many bunny owners. This one boasts to absorb 250% of its weight and is also bio-degradable. It is safe to ingest. Click here to learn more.
This is a type of hardwood bedding that is quite absorbent, or so I hear. I do not think this type of bedding is very popular in the UK as I rarely hear Aspen pellets/bedding being mentioned. It’s not the litter type I would choose as I feel that my rabbits would prefer something soft to sleep on but this depends on whether your bunny likes to lounge around in their toilet or not! This site mentions this litter type as being better than the softwood counterparts due to Aspen not having phenolic compounds that may cause problems with the livers of rabbits. Have a read of their article, it’s quite interesting and mentions a few other litter methods that have not been mentioned here.