Rabbits and guinea pigs create a lot of waste litter! Some councils force owners to take rabbit waste to the dump.
Allotment holders welcome rabbit and guinea pig waste so you can dump it on them instead! They will use it to make great compost and grew food even more cheaply.
Using a natural bedding like straw or hemp is what I would recommend. It means you can compost it and use the compost to grow more food for your pet.
I hope you are lucky enough to have a local farm, stables, farm or equine supplier within reasonable traveling distance. Transport permitting, you can simply buy large bales of bedding direct. Otherwise you’ll have to bite the bullet on the carriage cost. These heavy and bulky bales weighing up to 20kg.
On the plus side, buying in bulk means you don’t have to buy very often. It is way cheaper than picking up small bags at the local pet shop or supermarket.
Wood shavings, although a natural bedding, are not the best litter for rabbits and guinea pigs. Some shavings and sawdust can contain volatile oils and are slow to rot down.
Straw pellets, chopped straw and cellulose litters on the other hand are ideal, and make good compost.
Natural Bedding but has it been treated?
Some litter and bedding for horses is sprayed with disinfectant or essential oils to deter horses from eating the bedding. Is this a good thing for rabbits or guinea pigs?
I feel that plain, untreated litter is preferable. Both rabbits and guinea pigs have close contact with their litter or bedding and groom themselves frequently.
Anti-microbial sprays may also interfere with the composting process by harming the beneficial organisms involved in the process. On the other hand, medicated bedding offers a level of protection, especially in warmer weather and may help deter flies.
Rabbits and guinea pigs usually don’t eat their bedding if you give them ad lib, good quality, hay. I only use a medicated bedding if eating floor litter or straw is a problem.
Floor and tray litter
Floor and tray litter absorbs urine but must also feel comfortable underfoot. Guinea pigs can get sore feet when housed on hemp straw without a softer layer of bedding on top of it. I recommend you use more than one layer on the floor of the housing. The urine can then drain away into the base layer whilst remaining dry. You may prefer to use another bedding, for example cellulose bedding like Megazorb, either as a top layer or instead.
Straw Pellets and Chopped Straw Bedding
|Cellulose – Wood Pulp
|Nedz Bed Advanced
|Nedz Bed Original
|Soft Wheat Straw
|Nedz Bed Pro
|Oil Seed Rape Straw
Porta Pellis wheat straw pellets are a completely natural bedding or litter available from Zoo Plus. I’ve used them to make excellent compost and added soaked pellets to the soil where they rotted down nicely.
Made from wood pulp or cellulose fibres, cellulose bedding is hygienic, compostable and mainly dust free*.
Megazorb, a natural bedding used for horses, is also suitable for rabbits and guinea pigs. It is available in 85 litre sacks from around £15 delivered or less if you collect from your local horse feed merchant.
*Dust can occur when the sacks are transported but any dust is removed before leaving the manufacturing facility.
Hemp straw is used as a bottom layer in stables to absorb moisture, leaving the top layer of bedding dry. I’ve used it successfully as an under-bedding for rabbits and guinea pigs in the past.
Chopped hemp straw absorbs ammonia, which it then releases to the plants grown in that compost.
The main brands of hemp bedding I know of in the UK include Aubiose (French) and Hemcore (UK grown). Although they are fine as under-litter, I prefer Hemparade (Siccofloor) (Dutch) available from ZooPlus which is softer than the others. You can also buy small packets for the pet market (from Friendship Estates) as Hutch Hemp and Hugro (German)I like using hemp which is softer underfoot, especially for guinea pigs. You can buy Hemp pellets (Aktiv Streu) and hemp felt matting (Nager Floor) from ZooPlus. You’ll find that hemp products in general compost pretty well. You can also use the hemp mats to grow your own turf rugs for easy grazing indoors.