Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Share the love of Rabbits!

The answer to this question is sometimes! While some rabbits may prefer to sleep with their eyes open, others keep them closed.

Different factors can contribute to this, as well. 

For instance, some rabbits keep their eyes open, or slightly open, when sleeping to discourage any possible predators.

While other pet rabbits may feel perfectly content to keep their eyes closed. 

Below, we will be taking a closer look at the sleeping habits of rabbits and how they sleep with their eyes open.

When Do Rabbits Sleep?

If you have ever owned rabbits, you may wonder if they ever actually sleep (see also Do Rabbits Hibernate? ‘)! However, of course, all animals must eventually sleep; even rabbits. 

Rabbits, especially wild rabbits are typically crepuscular animals ( they are most active at dawn or twilight).

Therefore, rabbits are more liable to be awake when most humans fall asleep, which is at night and dark (see also ‘Can Rabbits See In The Dark?‘), or when the sun hasn’t fully risen yet. 

Although studies have shown variations in this, rabbit sleeping patterns can be impacted by a number of factors, including food schedules, light, and noise. 

Likewise, depending on the season, a rabbit’s activity can vary a lot.

Do Rabbits Sleep In The Dark?

While rabbits are more likely to take rest during the day, and sometimes in the middle of the night, you may be wondering: do rabbits sleep in the dark?

Rabbits sleep in the dark, but they also sleep during the day.

In their natural habitat, rabbits feel the most comfortable and safe when sleeping in secluded, quiet locations such as a burrow or den.

Replicating this for your pet rabbit would be beneficial.

Generally, most rabbit hutches come with a dark compartment which makes it the perfect place for your bunny to rest – at any time of the day or night.

How Much Do Rabbits Sleep?

As previously mentioned, it’s not that often you are able to catch your bunny sleeping. Although, rabbits surprisingly sleep much more than you may think.

A study looking at the sleeping habits of an adult rabbit over a period of 24 hours, found that rabbits typically sleep for an average of 11.4 hours a day!

However, unlike humans, this isn’t achieved throughout one long snooze. Rather, rabbits will have a couple of deep sleeping sessions and lots of naps throughout the day.

Why Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

From everything we have just looked at, it could be understood that we never see our rabbits sleeping because they keep their eyes open. 

However, while some rabbits do indeed keep their eyes open when sleeping, this doesn’t mean they are watching everything around them, they are, in fact, asleep.

Later on in this article, we’ll be exploring the signs to look out to know when your rabbit is asleep. 

How Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
Do rabbits sleep with their eyes open?

It’s important to remember that not all rabbits sleep with their eyes open. Some rabbits prefer to keep their eyes closed, while others open their eyes half- or part-way. 

While it may sound uncomfortable and potentially drying to keep your eyes open whilst sleeping, rabbits, however, have a third eyelid, also known as a nictitating membrane.

This prevents rabbits’ eyes from drying out by blinking a thin film over their eyeballs to maintain adequate moisture. 

A pet rabbit who sleeps with its eyes open will have its third eyelid shut, preventing any minimal damage and maintaining eye moisture. 

Why Don’t Rabbits Keep Their Eyes Closed?

Now that we have understood how rabbits keep their eyes open when sleeping, it’s now time to look at why they do this. 

In the wild, rabbits are very susceptible to predators. This is one of the reasons why rabbits eat nutrient-rich foods, to prevent them from spending unnecessary time away from safety! 

Moreover, sleeping with their eyes open to ensure that they are protected from any predators who may attack. 

However, as we previously mentioned, rabbits don’t see everything when they are asleep. So you may be wondering why rabbits bother to keep their eyes open.

 Well, there are two main reasons. These include:

1. Changes In Light

While rabbits won’t be able to see anything moving around them, they are able to detect changes in light.

Therefore, if a predator is moving toward a rabbit and obscuring the source of light, then the rabbits are more likely to notice this when sleeping with their eyes open and their third eyelid closed, as opposed to closing their eyes.

2. It Looks Awake!

Just like humans find it difficult to tell whether or not a rabbit is asleep, so will their predators.

This means that predators are less likely to attack when a rabbit looks like it is awake when in reality they are sound asleep. 

If you can’t tell whether your rabbit is asleep or not, just know that it is using its tactics well!

Are They Scared?

While a rabbit generally keeps their eyes open while asleep to feel more secure, that doesn’t necessarily mean your pet rabbit is scared of you. 

Rabbits have individual personalities; just like us! Therefore, some rabbits are more alert than others and never sleep with their eyes closed.

While others will always sleep with them closed. 

How To Tell If My Rabbit Is Asleep?

Below, you will find a few tell-tale signs to look out for if your rabbit is sleeping with its eyes open. 

  • Slow, deep breathing
  • Their nose stops wiggling
  • Snoring
  • Relaxed ears

In addition to these, you may notice your rabbit dreaming. This includes various twitching of their body, showing they are in a deep sleep. 

Final Thoughts

As a rabbit owner, you may be wondering why your bunny never seems to sleep. However, your rabbit could be sleeping without you even realizing it.

Hopefully, this guide has informed you on whether or not rabbits sleep with their eyes open. 

Share the love of Rabbits!