If you own a pet rabbit, then you might have noticed that they are sleeping with their eyes open. Is this natural and is this supposed to happen? Is this something that is going to continue and just part of a rabbits natural instincts and behavior? I decided to conduct some research into the topic. I would like to present that here to you today.
So, do rabbits sleep with their eyes open? Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open. This is usually when they are on high alert or are not quite comfortable within their surroundings. It usually happens with new rabbits, or if part of their habitat changes suddenly.
Not all rabbits exhibit this behavior and some rabbits may begin to close their eyes when they sleep as they become more confident and in time.
It is important to note that this is perfectly normal behavior – even if it doesn’t quite seem like it!
Let us now take a closer look at the topic so that you can understand what it all means and if there are any things you can do to improve the health and happiness of your rabbit.
Why Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
Rabbits sleep with their eyes open as an evolutionary defense mechanism. This behavior allows them to quickly detect predators, ensuring they can react swiftly to threats, even while resting. It aids in their survival in the wild.
Their instincts tell them that they are always in danger and a predator could approach them at any time.
This is a good defense mechanism for rabbits in the wild, but, if your rabbit sleeps with his eyes open in your home, chances are that they do not yet feel confident or comfortable in their surroundings. They may have even yet to develop a strong bond with you.
The advantages of a rabbit sleeping with their eyes open in the wild are two-fold:
- It gives the impression that they are awake, which is useful, as predators are more likely to attack a sleeping rabbit. Rabbits are not vigilant when they are slumbering, and once they are caught, escape is impossible.
- Light reaches the eye faster when it’s open. If an attacker approaches, the rabbit will be more aware than if he was sleeping with his eyes closed.
How Do You Know A Rabbit Is Sleeping If His Eyes Are Open?
You can tell a rabbit is sleeping, even if their eyes are open, by looking for a relaxed body posture, steady breathing, twitching whiskers or nose, and being non-responsive to mild stimuli. Observing their behavior and environment can help determine if they’re truly resting.
How To Make Your Rabbit Feel Safe Enough To Sleep
Making your rabbit feel safe and secure in its environment is crucial for their well-being.
When rabbits feel exceptionally safe, they might even sleep with their eyes closed- a rare sight, considering their evolutionary habits.
Here’s how to ensure they feel protected enough to rest deeply:
- Consistent Environment: Keep their living area consistent. Sudden changes can cause anxiety.
- Secure Enclosure: Ensure the cage or hutch is predator-proof and located in a quiet place.
- Hidey-Holes: Provide hiding spots or “burrows” where they can retreat if they feel threatened.
- Soft Bedding: A comfortable resting area can make a significant difference.
- Gentle Handling: Handle your rabbit gently and regularly so it becomes accustomed to human touch.
- Familiar Sounds: Play soft, ambient noise to drown out sudden loud noises that might startle them.
- Companionship: Consider pairing your rabbit with a compatible buddy. The company can provide comfort.
If a rabbit is very stressed the amount of time can be a lot less.
A stressed bunny will frequently wake up in the expectation of a predator or in order to react to chaotic circumstances.
Rabbits are interesting pets with their own unique quirks and behaviors. Their sleep is just one example of this.
The truth is, some rabbits sleep with their eyes open whereas others do not.
If you find that your rabbit does have their eyes open while they sleep, this is not an issue and will not harm their health nor prevent them from getting an adequate amount of rest.
However, it can indicate that they are not entirely comfortable in their environment. Thankfully there are many things that you can do to help improve their situation.
By making a few subtle changes and giving it time, you may notice that they begin to close their eyes, just like other rabbit owners report.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.