One age-old question people ask is whether rabbits sleep with their eyes open. Yes, some actually do sleep with their eyes wide or partially open. Bunnies sleeping with open eyes is usually a defense mechanism that allows them to stay alert especially when they feel unsafe.
A rabbit’s eye can stay open without blinking throughout the night thanks to a nictitating membrane that keeps it clean and moisturized. So how do you tell if your rabbit is asleep or not? For starters, a sleeping rabbit has a comfortable posture. It has relaxed ears, its nose doesn’t wiggle and its breathing automatically slows down.
When do bunnies sleep?
Rabbits are crepuscular by nature, meaning that they’re usually active in the evening and early in the morning. This is attributed mainly to predators having poor visibility during dusk and dawn. As a result, wild rabbits have capitalized on this timing over the years by feeding as much as possible during twilight. This particular sleeping pattern has been adapted by domestic rabbits as well.
On average, rabbits usually sleep 8 hours a day. However, their sleeping pattern is divided into two-time frames. The first nap begins late in the morning till in the afternoon, while the second sleep phase starts at midnight up until 4:00 a.m. in the morning.
Do Rabbits sleep with their eyes open or shut?
Although most rabbit owners do admit that they’ve never seen their pets asleep, this is usually further from the truth. In the real sense, bunnies do sleep and there’s a high chance that you’ve also seen them sleeping when you thought they were resting with their eyes open.
As mentioned earlier, rabbits sleeping patterns are usually divided into two. They also prefer taking short naps in between playing and feeding during their active hours. It’s worth pointing out, however, that not all rabbits sleep with their eyes open.
Some sleep with their eyes half-closed while others with their eyes entirely shut. In other words, it typically depends on your bunny’s temperament or how comfortable it feels in its habitat.
Why do most bunnies sleep with their eyes open?
Defense mechanism and Alertness
Since bunnies are prey animals, sleeping with their eyes open enables them to create the illusion that they’re fully awake. In most cases, this fools predators into thinking that the rabbits are on high alert and ready to avoid capture unlike when their eyes are closed in the wild.
In simpler terms, a rabbit is more alert when its eyes are open since it can easily prevent imminent danger. This is simply because light reaches the pupil easier when the entire eyelid isn’t shut.
However, when it comes to domestic rabbits, sleeping with the eye open depends on whether your rabbit is comfortable around its environment, or perhaps it’s naturally timid. However, if your bunny used to sleep with its eyes shut and nowadays it sleeps with open eyes, try and find out what could be spooking them out.
How to tell if your rabbit is sleeping
There are quite a few signs that are a clear indicator of a sleeping rabbit. Learning them will enable you to clearly distinguish a sleeping rabbit even with its eyes wide open.
A sleeping bunny normally has slow breathing unlike when they’re wide awake, where their breathing is rapid.
A sleeping bunny will have relaxed ears lying against the head, unlike the one that’s awake, usually having ears that are always on alert.
No nose twitch
Bunny’s noses tend to twitch a lot when they’re awake, however, it ceases to twitch once they are sound asleep.
A rabbit’s body is usually still and in a perfectly comfortable position when asleep. They’re most likely to nestle in a corner or hide out where they feel safer.
Most rabbits tend to snore while asleep, and will typically make soft grunting sounds.
Rabbit common sleeping positions
There are basically three main sleeping positions that usually cuts across all rabbit breeds. However, they all depend on your pet’s temperament and how safe they feel in their environment.
Stretched out position
A bunny will sleep lying while stretching out both its back and front legs. Alternatively, they can also sleep in this stretched-out position with their front paws tucked.
Hunched up position
Just like cats, bunnies also love the hunched-up position when asleep. They usually tuck their legs underneath their bodies while sleeping on all four feet. They usually prefer the hunched-up position since it’s usually easy for them to get up and run when startled on in danger.
This particular sleeping style involves a bunny sleeping on its side with its feet stretched out. The side position is common especially when the weather is hot as it allows rabbits to cool their body while laying on the side.
Frequently asked questions
Should you cage your bunnies at night?
Since bunnies are usually active during the night (from midnight to 4:00 am) you might think that letting them loose overnight sounds like a good idea. However, it’s usually not, since indoor bunnies tend to chew a lot and they can definitely do some damage if left unsupervised. Always cage your rabbits at night, or place them in a secure rabbit-proofed room. Also ensure that there is sufficient food, water, and a litter box on standby.
- Do rabbits enjoy sleeping on beddings?
Yes, they usually prefer sleeping on soft materials such as a pillow or blanket, and they’ll need extra bedding during winter.
- Do bunnies need darkness to sleep?
No, bunnies don’t need darkness to sleep. Their energy level determines their sleeping pattern. In other words, when they’re exhausted, they’ll definitely take a nap. However, this happens mostly during twilight.
- Are rabbits nocturnal?
No, bunnies aren’t nocturnal. This is a common misconception about rabbits in general. On the contrary, they’re crepuscular, which means that they’re usually active at dusk and dawn.
- Can I get my bunny to sleep at night?
Since most indoor rabbits get easily startled while trying to sleep during the day, it’s essential for them to get a peaceful night’s sleep. For starters always ensure that all the lights are off, there is less noise, your rabbit’s bedding is cozy and they are properly fed.
It’s perfectly normal for your bunny to sleep with its eyes open. Don’t get worried when you check on them in the middle of the night and notice their eyes wide open. All you can do is provide them with a safe, comfortable environment. Lastly, all bunnies deserve a good quality sleep, it is therefore recommended to avoid disturbing them when they’re asleep. Hopefully, this article was informative enough.
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