Are you eager to find out how your rabbit looks while sleeping, but can’t catch them with their eyes closed? If you can catch your bunny in the act, you have probably started to wonder if your rabbit is ever sleeping and do they do it with open or closed eyes.
So, do rabbits sleep with their eyes open or closed? Rabbits often sleep with their eyes open, but some will sleep with their eyes half-closed or fully closed. Sleeping with their eyes open is a defense mechanism that allows wild rabbits to remain alert in all environments. While pet rabbits aren’t in danger of predators they too remain alert.
In this article, we’ll tell you when and where rabbits sleep and how to tell whether your rabbit is asleep or not. Keep on reading to find out!
How to Tell If Your Rabbit Is Sleeping?
Since most bunnies sleep with their eyes open, it can be hard to tell whether your rabbit is actually asleep or not. A sleeping rabbit can look pretty much the same as a rabbit that is alert, awake, or relaxing so don’t worry much if you can’t tell what your pet rabbit is up to.
While it might seem that you’ve never seen your rabbit sleeping, you most definitely did catch them in the act without realizing it!
Luckily for you, there are several signs that can help you figure out that your rabbit is sleeping. Here’s what you should look for:
- Slow Breathing: Like people, rabbits start breathing more slowly and deeply when they are asleep. If you can get close enough to your rabbit while they sleep, you’ll notice that they are breathing slowly and steady.
- Nose Stops Twitching: Looking at your rabbit’s nose is a great way of telling whether they are awake or sleeping. The more alert the rabbit is, the more their nose will twitch. But the nose will stop twitching completely once your rabbit falls asleep.
- Snoring: While not all rabbits snore, many do. If you hear your bunny making soft rasping or grunting sounds, know that they are sleeping.
- Dreaming: Some rabbits may twitch their legs, ears, tail, mouth, or eyelids while dreaming. If you notice any peculiar movements, know that your bunny is in deep sleep.
- Relaxed Ears: In most cases, a rabbit’s ears are completely relaxed and lie against the head when rabbits are sleeping. On the other hand, when a rabbit is alert and awake, their ears are upright.
Sometimes a rabbit won’t feel safe or be able to sleep when people are around. If this is the case, don’t feel bad! Most rabbits need six months or more to get used to their new homes and feel comfortable enough to close their eyes and sleep (source).
Rabbit Sleeping Positions
Another way you can tell whether your rabbit is asleep or not is to look for common rabbit sleeping positions. There are three main sleeping positions most rabbits prefer, but which one will your bunny choose depends on their temperament.
The most common sleeping positions are:
- Loaf: Your rabbit will lie hunched up with its legs tucked underneath its body so you can’t see them. In this position, your bunny will resemble a loaf of bread.
- Flop: In this position, your rabbit will flop on its side with its front legs sticking out in the front.
- Rug: Your rabbit will be stretched out with its hind legs sticking out behind its body. They may stretch the front paws, or keep them tucked underneath the body.
Although rabbits can sleep in any of these positions, most choose to sleep in the loaf position. This placement allows them to quickly get up and run on the first sign of danger.
On the other hand, a rabbit that is sleeping in a flop or rug position is completely relaxed and at ease. It’s also more likely that your bunny will sleep with their eyes closed completely in one of these two positions.
When Do Rabbits Sleep?
Rabbits are crepuscular animals, which means that they are the most active during dawn and dusk (source). This survival mechanism allows rabbits to be the most active when the sun is low in the sky and the visibility is the poorest for both diurnal and nocturnal predators.
While rabbits on average sleep eight hours a day, they sleep in two main phases and have several shorter naps during the rest of the day. Most rabbits sleep from late morning to afternoon and have the second sleeping session in the middle of the night.
Where Do Rabbits Sleep?
In the wild, rabbits create tunnels in the ground, also known as warrens that they use for their homes. These underground warrens are made of many areas or rooms that rabbits use for sleeping and nesting.
While a wild rabbit will sleep in an underground warren, your pet rabbit will most likely sleep in a cage or a hutch. If your rabbit is allowed to roam freely around your home, they might flop down and fall asleep in dark corners or under your chair or sofa.
How to Help Your Rabbit Sleep?
There are several things you can do to help your rabbit sleep longer and more soundly. You can also use these tips to damper your rabbit’s nighttime activities and get them on the same page with your sleeping schedule.
- Tire your rabbit before bedtime by playing with them and allowing them several hours of exercise in the evening
- Cover your rabbit’s cage with a blanket to help your rabbit understand that it’s time for sleep
- Remove any of your rabbit’s toys that are loud and can make much noise if your rabbit decides to play in the middle of the night
- Create a routine and stick with it every day. If your rabbit is used to play every night before going to bed, they happily go to sleep after the play session is over
All rabbits have a third eyelid, known as a nictitating membrane that allows them to sleep with their eyes open. This translucent membrane keeps the rabbit’s eye moist, thus helping the rabbit stay alert while sleeping.
While most rabbits sleep with open eyes, there are several signs that can tell you whether your bunny is asleep or just staring. If your pet rabbit is breathing deeply or snoring, know that they are fast asleep even if their eyes are wide open.