When you are considering getting a fluffy rabbit to join your household, you may wonder about the rabbit’s daily routines. Do rabbits sleep? And if they do, how do they sleep? If you have a rabbit already, you may have the same questions – it’s easy to think that rabbits never sleep.
Rabbits sleep for 8-12 hours a day in a loaf, sprawled out, or flopped position. They sleep in short bursts (naps) between midday and late afternoon, and then again from late night to early morning since they are crepuscular. Rabbits prefer to sleep in a dark, safe space with lots of bedding.
We’ve got everything you need to know about how rabbits sleep so you can understand your bunny bestie better. Ready?
When Do Rabbits Sleep?
Rabbits are crepuscular, meaning they are active at dawn and dusk. This is when rabbits eat, play, exercise, and generally have the most energy. But they also have short energy bursts in between sleeping periods.
That means pet rabbits sleep from:
- Midday or late morning until late afternoon
- Late evening until early morning
This isn’t to say that rabbits sleep all of that time.
In fact, rabbits take little naps all throughout the day and night, and if they feel safe enough or very tired, they may sleep for a longer period.
I know what you are thinking. This is a very strange sleeping cycle.
But how rabbits sleep is an evolutionary adaptation because they are prey animals. It’s “safer” for wild rabbits to forage for food, burrow, and socialize when it’s dawn and twilight.
Most predators are either nocturnal (most active during nighttime) or diurnal (most active during daytime).
While a rabbit and predator can cross paths at dusk and dawn, most predators don’t see so well in low light conditions. Domesticated rabbits still have this protective instinct, and that’s why they sleep at odd times.
Where Do Rabbits Sleep?
In the wild, rabbits sleep in their underground burrows with the rest of their rabbit family. In these burrows, the wild rabbits are better protected from predators.
Domesticated rabbits sleep anywhere. Literally.
If you keep your rabbits outside, then they’ll sleep in their hutch – in an area where they feel safe.
If you keep your rabbits inside, they may sleep in their cage, playpen, or even when they chill with you on the couch. Generally, though, rabbits prefer to sleep in a tucked-away area that’s somewhat dark and has lots of nice soft bedding.
How Long Do Rabbits Sleep?
It is estimated that a rabbit needs approximately 8.5 hours of sleep a day, which is pretty similar to how much sleep a person needs.
A rabbit that feels protected and safe will often sleep more as they don’t feel like they have to be on alert all the time. A bun that feels safe may even sleep up to 12 hours; however, this isn’t all in one go.
Rabbits nap – often. And they don’t often fall into a deep sleep. But whether they are sleeping lightly or deeply, rabbits can wake up really quickly. This is a survival instinct their wild cousins need.
A wild rabbit needs to be able to snap back to reality quickly and be alert and aware. Their survival depends on it.
A baby rabbit, whether wild or domesticated, will sleep 20 or more hours a day. It nurses to sleep once daily. As the kit grows, they’ll gradually sleep less and less.
What Do Rabbit Sleeping Positions Mean?
You have a favorite sleeping position right? It may be on your tummy, on your back, or on your side? Or maybe you curl up in a semi-fetus position and sleep the night away.
Similarly, rabbits also have sleeping positions, and possibly even a single sleeping position they favor.
Here are the different rabbit sleeping positions:
The Loaf Sleeping Position
When a bunny is in the loaf or bread loaf position, they really do look like a loaf of furry bread. In the loaf position, the rabbit hunkers down and tucks its limbs underneath its body.
They may also relax their ears, letting them rest softly against the back of their head and neck/upper back.
This is the safest sleeping position for a rabbit. With their feet underneath them, they can easily and quickly get up and hop or run away if needed.
A rabbit is likely to also use this sleeping position when it is cold or they are feeling cold. The loaf position helps minimize their body’s contact with the floor.
After all, if you feel cold, you also huddle up – trying to make yourself small and preserve body heat.
The Sprawled Sleeping Position
The sprawled rabbit sleeping position is pretty much what it sounds like. Your bun is all sprawled out.
They may lay on their tummy or their side, and you’ll see their tail and hind legs are sprawled or stretched out behind them. The rabbit’s head will rest in front of them by their front limbs; however, your bun may also keep its head upright.
A sprawled-out bunny is a bunny that trusts you and feels safe and comfortable. They don’t have their limbs ready to jump up and run away.
The Flopped Sleeping Position
This sleeping position may look a little scary if you are a first-time rabbit owner. It actually looks like your bun flopped over on their side and, well, died.
In actual fact, this is a compliment from your rabbit. They will only flop over and go to sleep if they fully trust you and feel comfortable with you.
When your rabbit sleeps in the flopped position, they usually fall into a deeper sleep. Their eyes are often closed in the flopped sleeping position, too.
Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open or Closed?
Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open or closed.
They have a third eyelid, called nictitating membranes that are transparent. These membranes that cover your rabbit’s eyes keep their eyes moist and protect them from dust and debris.
When the nictitating membranes cover a rabbit’s eyes, it looks like their eyes are fully open.
A rabbit that sleeps with its eyes open is more sensitive to changes in movement and light – even if they are asleep. This helps the rabbit sense when a predator is approaching or if there’s something they need to be aware or wary of.
This is yet another cool rabbit fact that helps the species survive in the wild.
When a rabbit feels completely comfortable, they’ll close their outer eyelids and sleep with their eyes closed.
But don’t think that your rabbit doesn’t trust you or feel safe if they sleep with their eyes open.
Consider it a compliment when your rabbit sleeps with eyes closed, and if they sleep with their eyes open, it’s merely a bunny thing they do.
How Do You Know When a Rabbit Is Sleeping?
It’s not always easy knowing when your bunny bestie is sleeping, especially since they can sleep with their eyes open and also in the same position as when they are awake.
This is perfect for wild rabbits since predators may also not know if the rabbit is sleeping, even though these rabbits usually sleep in their burrows.
Here’s what to look for to know whether your bun is awake or asleep:
Rabbits always twitch their cute little noses, except when they are fast asleep. No nose twitching is your main indication that your rabbit isn’t awake. Or the nose wiggling may occur at a very slow pace.
Even as your bun falls asleep, its wiggling nose will slow down.
Wondering why a rabbit wiggles their nose?
They can breathe fine even when their nose doesn’t wiggle, but a twitching nose helps the rabbit sniff out their environment as their scent glands are stimulated.
While rabbits do fall asleep with their ears standing upright and on full alerts – like little toy soldiers – they can also sleep with their ears relaxed.
A rabbit’s ears move when they are awake. The ears track sounds and swiveling ears are a sign that your bun is wide awake.
Your body twitches as you sleep, and so too, do a rabbit’s feet and their little mouths.
When your rabbit makes these involuntary movements or twitches (called myoclonic movements) while the rest of their body is fully relaxed, they are asleep and dreaming.
Your bun is probably dreaming about hopping through a field of yummy grasses, herbs, and flowers.
A rabbit breathes very fast. They generally breathe between 30-60 times a minute.
When your bun is sleeping, their breathing will slow down and their whole body will melt into the floor and fully relax.
Yes, rabbits can and do snore!
It’s quite a strange little sound that your rabbit makes when they are sleeping and snoring.
Wondering what a rabbit snore sounds like?
It sounds like a soft, squeaky sound. And it’s adorable and not annoying like your partner’s snoring.
A rabbit snoring is perfectly normal; however, it can be a sign of something serious if you notice:
- Lots of sneezes
- Runny eyes
- A nasal discharge
Take your rabbit to the vet as they may have a respiratory infection.
Talking in Their Sleep
If you’ve ever heard a person talk in their sleep, it sounds like they are mumbling. Yup, that’s kinda what your sleeping bunny does too.
They can make soft mumbling sounds when they are fast asleep.
My Last Bunny Thoughts
A rabbit sleeping is the cutest thing ever, but it isn’t easy to tell when your rabbit is actually fast asleep.
Know whether your bun is awake or asleep by looking for these signs:
- Sleep talking
- Loaf, sprawling, or flopped sleeping positions (but they may be awake in these positions)
- Eyes close (but your bun can be asleep with their eyes “open”)
- No or slow nose twitches
- Relaxed ears (but their ears may remain upright)
- Slow breaths
- Involuntary twitching movements