Pine shavings okay for rabbits/hamsters?

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by AnimalsComeFirst, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. AnimalsComeFirst

    AnimalsComeFirst Songster

    Jun 6, 2011
    Hugging a Chicken
    We buy a big bulk bag of pine shavings for our 5 chickens, and we have always bought aspen for our small animals.... but I've heard pine smells and absorbs better than aspen. I have also heard pine can kill hamsters because of upper respitory problems? I've known pine bedding to be used forever for small animals.... but now i'm not sure if this is threatening my pets?

    Does anyone here use pine bedding for rabbits/hamsters? And do you have any opinions on this topic? I know cedar is deadly and i would never use it, but pine?
  2. scwheeler24

    scwheeler24 In the Brooder

    Apr 23, 2011
    The only thing I heard you shouldn't use is cedar. Look on the web to be sure.
  3. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Songster

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    Cedar is a soft wood and contains aromatic oils called phenols. Pine is also a soft wood and also contains phenols, although at much lower levels. Phenols cause respiratory irritation, which leaves the airways open to secondary respiratory infections, and liver damage. This is well documented not only in animals housed on cedar shavings in confinement but also in humans who have worked in sawmills or other woodworking industries where cedar or pine was the main wood. Whether or not pine shavings are "safe" for small animals is still a subject of debate even among veterinarians. The current general consensus is that because pine shavings have so much fewer phenols than cedar they are less likely to cause damage, but that damage can still be caused.

    Personally, I will not use pine shavings for small caged pets because I feel that it isn't worth the risk. Yes, pine has lower levels of phenols than cedar. But lower levels of something bad doesn't make it a good thing. I know that I personally get respiratory irritation from digging through pine shavings in an enclosed space. For example, we used to use pine shavings at work for small animals and we stored it in a large plastic barrel, every time I had to lean down into the barrel when the shavings were getting low I would get irritation from it. And for me it wasn't just an allergic reaction, I would get a raw feeling in my throat the way I do when I am battling bronchitis. If pine shavings can do that to me I can only imagine what it would be doing to an animal less than 1/10 my size who has to live on it 24/7.
  4. brighty

    brighty In the Brooder

    Jan 19, 2012
    I use pine shavings for my hamsters, guinea pigs, and hedgehogs and have never had any problems at all.
  5. brighty

    brighty In the Brooder

    Jan 19, 2012
    forgot to add that we also use it with our rabbits.
  6. leadwolf1

    leadwolf1 Songster

    May 1, 2011
    I used pine for years for all my small animals without a problem...however, once I read that aspen was better, I switched and have never gone back. Small animals have such tiny lungs that I am always concerned about odors effecting them negatively.

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