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The Healthiest Small Animal Bedding?

rabbit lying next to box with hay
Over the years, many different fibers have been offered up as being “the best” bedding for small animals.  For generations, the most widely used bedding was pine shavings.  Millions of rabbits, Guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats and exotic small pets have been raised and housed on this litter.  Alternative products have been offered such as other species of wood shavings, corn cobs, paper pulp fibers, recycled newspaper, hemp and cut up recycled boxes.

Recently, there have been claims that some beddings were safer and healthier for small critters than kiln dried pine.  The most frequent comments have been centered around the “harmful aromatic oils” found in pine shavings.  While these claims circulate around the internet and elsewhere, there is mounting evidence that they are inaccurate. 


rabbit lying next to box with hay
In fact, the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) cites an independent, peer reviewed study as a source for help in determining the relative merits of various beddings.  It was published in 2004 by the Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS).

The key point is that the research concluded that pine shavings did not cause any problems when used as small animal bedding.  In light of the findings of this study, the AVMA has withdrawn the recommendation against pine bedding in their brochure “What You Should Know About Selecting a Pet Rodent”.

You can read the full study at:

rabbit lying next to box with hay
Prominent small animal experts are changing their views about pine bedding as well.  Dr. Thomas Edling, staff veterinarian for Petco says “I don't think there is anything wrong with pine - the problem is the internet and public perception.”  In addition, Dr. Lianne McLeod, the exotic pet expert for the website About.com says “I’ve used pine in the past, and never seen any studies that link clinical problems to beddings…many online recommendations are based strictly on anecdotal evidence and personal opinion”.  In addition, most widely sold books on caring for new small animals from such publications as TFH and Howell, recommend pine as the preferred bedding for new pets. 

Given all this, it is clear that pine is an economical, effective and safe small animal bedding.  A strong case can be made that it is the best value available.  

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