WOOD SHAVINGS FOR RABBITS – ARE THEY SAFE ?
Some scientific studies have suggested that fresh untreated wood shavings made from pine can contain levels of aromatic hydrocarbons which have the potential to cause health problems in small animals.
Pine by-products – gum & a very strong disinfectant smell (the hydrocarbons) – can affect the liver and respiratory tracts of small animals. Lungs can also be affected.
In England there is a Leylandii pine which is very toxic. It is not just full of watery sap but also contains a sticky gum. When burnt as firewood it oozes out the sticky gum which spatters everywhere. It has a very strong aromatic smell of pine disinfectant and is unsuitable for bedding. We don’t use Leylandii shavings in South Africa. We have the Patula or Cluster Pine and the Slash Pine both brought in for the timber industry & these are the species from which our shavings would come.
Be cautious and try to avoid using freshly produced untreated shavings. The normal white dust free shavings sold for animal use have been heat treated and have had the strong aromatic hydrocarbons removed through the heating process, thus rendering them safe for rabbits.
Researched from: Fur & Feather February 2014, Fur & FeatherMarch 2014, Fur & Feather June 2014, AgriChoice Shavings Supply Company, Pooley’s Trees of Eastern South Africa by Richard Boon
A big thank you to Heather Heron, Secretary of The Natal Rabbit Club for sharing this information with us after my enquiries.
Please remember that you should always use heat treated, unscented, dust free pine shavings – stay away from those yucky scented ones that smell like toilet spray!