Hay in the litter box vs. Out of the litter box

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Gelly

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I’d like to hear everyone’s experiences/opinions about keeping hay either in a bun’s litter box or separate. I’m under the impression that most people put hay in the litter box but I’ve recently been hearing success putting it out of it.

My bunny pees on his hay and ends up not eating it when it’s in the litter box. So I could imagine that problem would be fixed. I’m curious to hear what everyone thinks.
 

Blue eyes

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I've done both. I didn't start putting hay exclusively in the litter box until I joined this forum (2012).

All rabbits will pee on the hay in the litterbox. That's half the point. They like to potty while they graze. If hay is offered in the litter box, it must be refreshed at least twice per day so that they always have fresh hay. The very fact that they won't eat it if it has been peed on is precisely why hay can be offered in the litter box. :) Otherwise one would have to avoid putting hay in the box.

It's possible to have it both ways. Put a rack with large openings above the box and put some hay in the box as well. Excess hay from the rack will fall in the box and you'll likely find bunny eating some of that as well.
 

WhitwRoastedMellUwU

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I tried putting his hay in his litter box and I learnt that he does not like stepping on his litter and ended up stepping on his hay(he does not like the hay I bought him anyways) so I replaced the litter using newspaper. I saw the people in the group I joined (rabbit lovers Philippines) that they use hayrack more, than just putting it in the litter box. What I do is just hang his old food bowl in the bars of his cage and just put hay there. It works and he doesn't mind, he's cute while doing it too, although my bunny is not 100% litter trained
 

Hermelin

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I used hay rack first for my bunnies but both my boys love sitting up on the hay rack. I also made one that was a box with holes but my bunny jumped into the hay rack. So either way they peed on the hay and the hay rack just increased the risk of my bunnies getting stuck or hurt. Odin fit through small spaces, so he easily climb up in metal hay racks.

So I just let it be in the litter box and top up the hay.

The only one that used hay rack was my bunny Lilja but she would drag out all the hay onto the floor and pee on it 😂
 

Blue eyes

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I tried putting his hay in his litter box and I learnt that he does not like stepping on his litter and ended up stepping on his hay although my bunny is not 100% litter trained
You said he didn't like stepping on the litter but would step on the hay. You can put the hay completely on top of the litter so he won't be stepping directly on the litter but will be stepping on the hay. If you put the hay on top of his litter -- I'd suggest the pelleted litter again since newspaper does nothing for odor control or urine absorption -- then he'll likely litter train better. :)
 
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WhitwRoastedMellUwU

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You said he didn't like stepping on the litter but would step on the hay. You can put the hay completely on top of the litter so he won't be stepping directly on the litter but will be stepping on the hay. If you put the hay on top of his litter -- I'd suggest the pelleted litter again since newspaper does nothing for odor control or urine absorption -- then he'll likely litter train better. :)
I did buy wood pellets but I don't want to waste any hay. But how about putting the newspaper on top, then the litter at the bottom, is that okay?
 

Eve84

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Hi 👋,
I personally absolutely prefer hay racks with a top. The top at the hay rack to avoid the rabbit to jump on top and pee on it and also that they won’t injure themselves too.

For the litter boxes I find straw much more useful, as all the pee goes in between and gets absorbed from the pallets underneath and also all the poo falls mostly down. In the evening i go again and shake the straw a little when the pallets are not fully soaked with pee and not need to get fully changed so the poo falls through and they sit nicely on top with a dry bum.

I just returned from holiday and for our holiday I only took hay with me (and no straw) and also used it for the litter boxes as I wanted to safe space in our car. I found that their paws got very dirty with all the poo which stays on top of the hay and also the pee got stuck on top of the hay much more as with straw. So if I were a little late or did not use a load amount of pallets they got a wet bum. ( I ended up needing to go to the shop on the second day of our holiday and buy more pallets, as I needed to clean the litter boxes more often as everything was stuck in the hay.

I would also be worried that they would get ill from it , not just the wet bum but also if they eat too much peed on hay too. Sometimes they might eat hay which is dry but if they have long stalks maybe the other end is wet and about to get eaten. In most cases straw is also cheaper so you can safe a lot of money too.

I’m not sure if newspaper is a good idea, would you not be worried of the fumes and the ink?

Take care
Eve
 

Blue eyes

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I did buy wood pellets but I don't want to waste any hay. But how about putting the newspaper on top, then the litter at the bottom, is that okay?
Wasted hay should be expected but I think you have a difficult time finding hay where you live?? If that's the case, I would still look for something other than newspaper. Urine soaked newspaper just smells. Plus, when it gets wet, the ink (usually soy-based so it is safe) can stain bunny's paws.

Do you have access to straw? The straw (as mentioned by @Eve84 ) is not something I would normally recommend for indoor rabbits but may be a good option in your case if hay is difficult to come by. Some rabbits will try to eat the straw which isn't ideal since it has zero nutrition and, if they do eat it, may eat less hay as a result. (I've not had any of the issues that Eve mentioned in using hay on top of litter. My rabbits have had spotless paws and dry bottoms. They won't eat soiled hay. I suspect it was the litter setup and maintenance that caused her issues.)
 

WhitwRoastedMellUwU

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I think I can use his first hay that I bought for him(he definitely did not like the hay) and I still have plenty. You are right about the fact that it is difficult to purchase hay in my country as it is what hermelin said to me. The hay was star grass hay btw but I changed his hay to Timothy since it is much healthier and more tasty.
 

Eve84

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Wasted hay should be expected but I think you have a difficult time finding hay where you live?? If that's the case, I would still look for something other than newspaper. Urine soaked newspaper just smells. Plus, when it gets wet, the ink (usually soy-based so it is safe) can stain bunny's paws.

Do you have access to straw? The straw (as mentioned by @Eve84 ) is not something I would normally recommend for indoor rabbits but may be a good option in your case if hay is difficult to come by. Some rabbits will try to eat the straw which isn't ideal since it has zero nutrition and, if they do eat it, may eat less hay as a result. (I've not had any of the issues that Eve mentioned in using hay on top of litter. My rabbits have had spotless paws and dry bottoms. They won't eat soiled hay. I suspect it was the litter setup and maintenance that caused her issues.)
No it wasn’t blue eyes, specially not the maintenance! It’s just a logical consequence, that straw is coarser and things like poo and pee falls easier through.
If you take the example of using newspaper on top of pallets for litter box the paper gets wet, it doesn’t matter how much pallets you used underneath and they will get a wet bottom, even if they just peed once on it and u clean it every hour this one time is enough.
I think the problem is that you never tried it and have no experience or that you did try it but were worried about the straw getting out of the litter boxes indoor much easier than hay - as straw is less dense and doesnt stick together as hay does.
 

Diane R

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I did buy wood pellets but I don't want to waste any hay. But how about putting the newspaper on top, then the litter at the bottom, is that okay?
No. Newspaper is not absorbent enough. You can get cheap hay to put on top of wood pellets and then put higher quality hay on one side. Ask in the Philippines group what people do there, I have seen some good setups.
 

Donna Standar

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I use wood pellets and no hay in the litter box.
Works great and absorbs , no odor.
 

Mehidk

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I have hay in Trixie's litter but not very much. Most of it is kept on the feeder that is right in front of her when she does her business. I also have a small box that I put a variety of hay (oat, meadow, orchard, etc) for when she feels like foraging. When she's not feeling the hay in the feeder anymore, then I'll pull it out and put it in her litter and put fresh hay in. There's some definite waste of hay but it's expected. Then there's times when she doesn't pee on the hay, other times she does. Sometimes she prefers the hay in her box, sometimes she doesn't. She's a weird bun.

No matter what though, she's always got clean paws and a clean bottom when she exits. Haven't had any issues yet.
 

Blue eyes

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No it wasn’t blue eyes, specially not the maintenance! It’s just a logical consequence, that straw is coarser and things like poo and pee falls easier through.
If you take the example of using newspaper on top of pallets for litter box the paper gets wet, it doesn’t matter how much pallets you used underneath and they will get a wet bottom, even if they just peed once on it and u clean it every hour this one time is enough.
I think the problem is that you never tried it and have no experience or that you did try it but were worried about the straw getting out of the litter boxes indoor much easier than hay - as straw is less dense and doesnt stick together as hay does.
I'm not saying that straw does not work. I even suggested that the OP try it! (if hay is hard to come by)

What I said was that with a suggested maintenance upkeep, hay on top of litter will not result in the issues you described (dirty paws and wet bum). Even my white rabbits (or rabbits with white paws) had perfectly clean paws, with hay on top of their litter.
 

Eve84

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I'm not saying that straw does not work. I even suggested that the OP try it! (if hay is hard to come by)

What I said was that with a suggested maintenance upkeep, hay on top of litter will not result in the issues you described (dirty paws and wet bum). Even my white rabbits (or rabbits with white paws) had perfectly clean paws, with hay on top of their litter.
I probably should have added that my rabbits get loads of fresh stuff during the day, like they get fennel and salad and peppers.
And had loads of fresh grass which I cut and put in their hutch too and also were out in about in the garden to eat grass. Which is there natural food and they have chosen it over dried grass (hay).

But the poo is different when they get loads of fresh stuff, it’s just a little darker and a little more wet. If they only get pallets and hay and no fresh stuff, their poo is solid dry.

Which does make a lot of differences

Anyway I cleaned them twice a day and my rabbits did not have a wet bum but they were much cleaner and happier with straw.
 

Eve84

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I also find it outrageous to judge me from the internet without seeing me or my rabbits and saying that I don’t keep up with my rabbits maintenance!!

All I had wanted to point out was that I think with straw it is easier and probably also safer.

And in our holiday I went on the second day to get more pallets as I wanted to avoid our rabbits to get a wet bum, which means that I had to use more pallets and clean more often as usually at home with straw!
 

Blue eyes

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I also find it outrageous to judge me from the internet without seeing me or my rabbits and saying that I don’t keep up with my rabbits maintenance!!
You misunderstood. I was not at all referring to how you maintain or care for your rabbits.

I was only referring to the maintenance process used if one is using hay on top of wood pellets for a litter box. There is a practiced method that makes the hay-on-top-of-wood-pellets method work. You wrote that your rabbits got messy paws and wet bum from using the hay on top of the litter. [" I found that their paws got very dirty with all the poo which stays on top of the hay and also the pee got stuck on top of the hay much more as with straw. So if I were a little late or did not use a load amount of pallets they got a wet bum." ] The pellets should be a certain thickness (though this step isn't that critical) and the hay needs to be placed generously on top. Then more hay must be added on top of that at least twice per day. It takes a bit of practice to get the amounts down pat for this to work so that 1., there is no odor, and 2., bunnies stay clean -- clean paws, clean bums.

I wasn't disparaging your care of your rabbits. You basically stated that using hay on top of pellets will result in dirty paws and wet bums. This is not the case, if certain steps are taken with this particular method.
 

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