Does Rabbit Nest Box Require Hay?

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Mimi Bunny

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Hi! I was just wondering if a rabbit nest box must hay hay for some reason or would other material work such as a softer material (like the carefresh pet bedding). They are indoors with a heater on so the cold is not a problem :)

I use a blanket as a base and using hay just seems very messy and they're pretty hard too so I'm afraid it'll hurt the kits.
 

Preitler

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I would say, yes, since the nestbox material is the first solid stuff they start nibbling on, hay is great. But I've seen people doing without, so it's not a knockout criteria. I don't quite understand why hay would be considered a problem, it isn't. Doesn't hurt the kits. Forget human ideas abut neatness.
 

zuppa

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Hay is best and healthy. It's not only about carefresh being softer etc but they start eating hay from very early age and in general more hay they eat their bellies are healthier and it is natural for them. I don't know how old they are now first two weeks hay supposed to be lined with their mother's fur so it is very soft, after 2-3 weeks they don't stay inside nest much but still use it as their bed/toilet and eat hay too. So I am all for hay with both my hands.
When doe is preparing her nest she removes hard pieces from it, maybe not all does do that but I witnessed myself, also you can give some softer hay for nest and add some shredded paper under hay to make it softer, but as I said, fur lining is very soft and warm, if your mother didn't do it herself you can help her or give her some soft material to put on top like cotton wool or if you saved some wool after brushing her etc.
 

SableSteel

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You do really need hay. The rabbits will often try to burrow or cover the rabbits with the nesting material, and if you only make it out of softer material, such as carefresh bedding, the nest can't hold its shape very well. I've tried it before; and the does seemed very disappointed, carrying around a mouthful of bedding and trying to build a nest out of it. What you can do if you want something softer than hay is to look for a different type of hay - instead of the more expensive timothy hay you can look for bermuda or orchard grass hay (check feed stores) which is often softer. You can also use a combination of the beddings - what I do with my rabbits is fill the nest box up halfway with bedding, then the top half with hay. That way the doe can build a nest out of hay but the rabbits still have the soft, warm, absorbent bedding under them (plus the mother's fur).

I have never, in over a decade of breeding, seen a kit seem to be bothered by hard hay was. Also - yes, hay in the nestbox does make an absolute mess, it gets everywhere. That's just the nature of breeding rabbits. It's most messy when the doe is nesting, after the litter is born and settled in she stops messing with the hay so much and most of it stays in the nest box.
 

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