Do rabbits sleep with their eyes open? When do rabbits even sleep? Are they nocturnal?
One of the biggest mysteries to rabbit owners is a rabbit’s sleep habits. What do they do when we’re asleep?
Whether you’re looking to promote better sleep for your rabbit or you just want to know more about rabbit sleep, you’re in the right spot! Keep reading to learn more about rabbits and their sleep habits!
Table of Contents
- Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
- Do Rabbits Sleep a Lot?
- How Do You Know a Rabbit is Sleeping if His Eyes Are Open?
- Do Rabbits Snore?
- Do Rabbits Dream?
- Where Do Rabbits Like to Sleep?
- Do Rabbits Sleep Sitting or Laying Down?
- Most Common Rabbit Sleep Positions (And What They Mean)
- Do Rabbits Need a Light at Night?
- How to Promote Better Sleep for Your Rabbits
Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
In most cases, a rabbit will sleep with his eyes open. But if he feels really safe, you may catch your rabbit with his eyes shut (either halfway or completely).
Rabbits are among a small population of animals that sleep with their eyes open. That is a defense mechanism that rabbits have developed over eons of being hunted. Now, as a rabbit owner, I know you don’t want to hear this, but all over the world, rabbits are number one on the menu for a long list of predators. They always have been.
Because of that, rabbits evolved with defense mechanisms, like heightened hearing and speed. But speed can’t help a sleeping rabbit. Sure, that super hearing comes in handy, but beyond that, rabbits have evolved to sleep with their eyes open.
Rabbits that sleep with their eyes open look awake and ready to run, which wouldn’t really deter a hungry predator, but it does make it easier for light to reach the rabbit’s eyes as soon as the predator makes a move. That gives the rabbit time to snap awake and get on the run.
Rabbits are able to keep their eyes open while sleeping (and not dry their eyeballs out) because they have a third eyelid, more formally known as the nictitating membrane. This eyelid also protects and hydrates your rabbit’s eyeball.
Do Rabbits Sleep a Lot?
Rabbits can sleep anywhere from 6-12 hours, depending on the circumstances. Most of the time, they sleep in short bursts, taking some longer snoozes in between.
A rabbit has two different stages of sleep. Around 70% of the time your rabbit spends sleeping, it’s only light sleep. That’s when your rabbit’s eyes are open, so he can easily wake up and run away if needed.
The other 20% is deep sleep, where his eyes are most likely shut, and he’s relaxed and vulnerable. This usually only happens when the rest of the house is quiet and your rabbit feels completely safe.
Do Rabbits Sleep at Night or During The Day?
Rabbits are crepuscular, contrary to the popular belief that they are nocturnal. They are most active at dawn and dusk, leaving the rest of the day open for resting whenever the opportunity presents itself.
It’s totally normal for your rabbit to be snoozing in the middle of the day or a couple of times per day when you check in. And it’s just as normal for your rabbit to take advantage of the silence of your house at night to drift off to dreamland.
Do Rabbits Have a Sleep Schedule?
Rabbits don’t have a bedtime or sleep schedule like you do. They’re creatures of habit, but they don’t sleep at the same time every day. Instead, rabbits sleep when they have the best opportunity.
Rabbits nap frequently during the day and night to make up for their quota. The longest I’ve seen a rabbit sleep (in one stint) is around 20 minutes. (This was a deep sleep with his eyes shut, and I’m going to assume he was dreaming because his legs were twitching).
How Do You Know a Rabbit is Sleeping if His Eyes Are Open?
A good way to tell your rabbit is sleeping (whether his eyes are open or not) is when his nose twitches really slowly instead of at the regular rate. That’s a dead giveaway, especially when all the other signs point to him being awake.
Another sign is your rabbit’s ears. When your rabbit is awake, his ears are active, usually up and attentive, twitching around at any noise they pick up. But, when he’s asleep, your rabbit’s ears will be relaxed, moving much less frequently.
The last sign that your rabbit is sleeping is when he’s laying down with his legs kicked back or sprawled out, especially if they’ve been in that position for a while.
Do Rabbits Snore?
As surprising as it is, some rabbits do snore. If this is happening, this is another clear sign that your bun is fast asleep. There are a few reasons for snoring in rabbits. Sometimes, it’s totally fine. It’s just a case of breeding, particularly in lop breeds with flatter noses.
Other times, it can be more serious, especially if it is a new development in your rabbit. So, if your bun is suddenly snoring, you should seek out a vet. Snoring can also be brought on by obesity, which may not be immediately dangerous for your rabbit, but will have long-term effects like heart problems, joint problems, etc. In that case, it’s usually non-life-threatening.
However, sudden snoring could be a sign of something harmful, like a respiratory issue or something lodged in the nasal passage. Either way, it’s best to seek veterinary advice if you’re worried about your rabbit’s snoring.
Do Rabbits Dream?
Another surprising fact about rabbit sleep is that rabbits dream. Not much is really known about rabbit dreams. But what we do know is that they can dream about familiar places and experiences.
Rabbits are vivid dreamers, often being caught thrashing, twitching or moving their legs. Unfortunately, this means that they likely experience nightmares as well. And, even worse, there’s nothing we can really do as pet parents except make their sleeping space as calm and soothing as possible.
Where Do Rabbits Like to Sleep?
In the wild, rabbits would normally only sleep in their burrow. Domestic rabbits are lucky, having plenty more options because they’re usually always safe in their surroundings. However, that doesn’t mean their primal instincts have completely diminished.
You see, even house rabbits tend to prefer a peaceful place, usually darker (but not always), and somewhere warm to snuggle up. That being said, there’s as much of a possibility of your rabbit taking a snooze somewhere out in the open, like the sofa.
Rabbits may also sleep in their litter boxes because it’s their safe space. Sleeping and “using the toilet” are the most vulnerable moments of any animal’s day. So, it makes sense that your rabbit would sleep somewhere he already feels safe.
To stop this behavior, set up a main station for your rabbit (if you haven’t already), and make sure that there is a comfy bed beside the litter box.
Best Beds for Rabbits
If you’re looking to create a safe and cozy place for your rabbit to sleep, here are some great choices:
- Small Cat/Dog Bed: These soft and fluffy beds are the perfect place for your rabbit to curl up.
- Burrow Bed: These folding beds replicate the security of a burrow, making a rabbit feel safe enough to go into a deep sleep.
- Bunched-Up Blanket: For a cost-effective burrow bed, a bunched-up blanket does the trick.
- Hidey-House, Tunnel, or Igloo: A hidey-house, tunnel or igloo are like little dens where your rabbit can nap or relax without being disturbed.
Do Rabbits Sleep Sitting or Laying Down?
As mentioned, most of a rabbit’s sleeping time is light sleep, so they can snap back to reality in seconds. Usually, during that time, rabbits will sit or remain in their “loaf” state. However, that’s not a hard-and-fast rule because a rabbit will lie down just to relax (without napping).
Most Common Rabbit Sleep Positions (And What They Mean)
Rabbits can sleep in more than one position. They can sleep sitting or laying down, depending on how deep they’re sleeping (and for how long). Here are some sleeping positions for rabbits and what they mean.
Loaf position is when your rabbit is crouching, with all four legs tucked in, resembling a loaf of bread. If he’s not sitting, this is what your rabbit will be doing for most of his light relaxation or nap time. Rabbits feel safe in this position as they can quickly get up and run away.
The “flop” is when your rabbit is really tired, and to get comfortable, he flops down on his side to stretch out. That is when your rabbit’s getting ready to go for a longer and deeper nap.
Stretched Out (Superman)
Similar to the flop, your rabbit will also lie down to sleep by stretching out, and kicking his back legs out. If your rabbit is really comfortable, he may even do this while awake but just relaxing.
This position resembles the Sphinx statue. Rabbit’s muscles are contracted, which prevents them from falling into a deep sleep. This position is for shorter naps only, and it allows them to run away quickly in case of danger.
The lambchop position is when your rabbit stretches their legs to one side. This position means your rabbit is very relaxed and comfortable.
Do Rabbits Need a Light at Night?
Because of their crepuscular nature, they have the ability to sleep in darkness and in broad daylight. It’s best to give your rabbit a bit of both by having a light on but giving him a hidey-house or box to be able to go into. That is what experts call a contrast of light and darkness.
My rabbit has free roam of the whole house. But, at night, I shut all the lights off (because I can’t sleep with the lights on). However, I keep a dimmable light on in my rabbit’s room. He has access to darker conditions. But more often than not, I find him in the light, slightly shielded by it by a curtain or overhanging throw blanket.
How to Promote Better Sleep for Your Rabbits
You can tell your rabbit is tired or sleepy if he’s yawning. It may be best to quiet down the house (or at least the room your rabbit usually sleeps in, and make it a little more comfortable place to sleep.
After quiet, the most important piece is that cozy bed. Make sure you place your rabbit’s bed in the main station or wherever you find your rabbit napping the most. I have two beds for my rabbit Chile, whose main station is on the opposite side of the room from my desk, where I find him sleeping most often.
You can also offer hay beside the beds to entice your rabbit further. But the two main things are quiet and a cozy place to sleep.