You might have heard that rabbits are sleeping with their eyes open. Is this supposed to happen or is this natural? Is this something that is going to continue and just part of a rabbit’s behavior and natural instincts? Do rabbits sleep with their eyes open? I wanted to conduct some research on the topic.
Yes, rabbits can sleep with their eyes open. This happens when they are not quite comfortable within their surroundings or are on high alert. It usually happens with new rabbits, or if part of their habitat changes suddenly However, not all rabbits show this behavior and some rabbits may begin to close their eyes when they sleep in time. It is important to note that this is perfectly normal behavior.
However, let us take a closer look to understand what we can do to improve the health and happiness of your rabbit.
How To Determine Whether Your Bunny Is Sleeping
When rabbits fall into a deep sleep with their eyes open, it’s difficult to recognize if a rabbit is asleep. A relaxing rabbit, alert and awake, can look similar to a rabbit sleeping deeply.
Though you may believe that you’ve never seen your rabbit sleeping, you probably have without actually recognizing it.
Not enough sleeping or excessive sleeping can refer to stress or illness. According to the Dental Research Journal.
Luckily, there are several signs that suggest that a rabbit is sleeping. If you learn to recognize the following signs, you’ll soon be able to notice when your rabbit’s asleep:
A few of these may include:
Slow Breathing — Like other animals, Rabbits’ breathing rate slows down during sleep. If you can get close enough to your rabbit, you’ll notice that its breathing rate drops while asleep.
Snoring: Not all rabbits snore, but many do. They may make soft grunting or rasping noises during their sleep. If you pay attention to your pet rabbit, snoring sounds can be easily picked up.
Their nose stops twitching — Nose twitching means that rabbits that are active and awake. If you notice that the twitching has stopped, that means your rabbit is enjoying some sleep.
Relaxed Ears — Rabbits are known for their large conspicuous ears that always stand erect. A sleeping rabbit’s ears are relaxed and lie against the head, but If your rabbit’s ears are sticking bolt upright, it’s a sign that it’s awake and alert.
Dreaming — Rabbits enjoy the realms of Dreamland just like humans. A dreaming rabbit typically twitches its mouth, ears, tail, eyelids, and other parts of the body carelessly. This is a sign that your rabbit is in a deep sleep.
Why Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
As known, many rabbits may be hunted by predators, therefore they are in danger even in the comfort places in your home.
Rabbits instincts tell them that they are always at high risk and a predator could attack them at any time. This is a natural defense for rabbits, but, if a rabbit sleeps with his eyes open in your home, probably they do not yet feel comfortable or confident 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:
- Giving the impression that they are awake, as predators are more likely to attack a sleeping rabbit, which is useful. Rabbits are not cautious when they are sleepy, and once they are caught, it is impossible to escape.
- Light reaches the eye faster when it’s open. If a predator approaches, the rabbit will be more alert than if he was sleeping with his eyes closed.
However, if your rabbit is not sleeping with their eyes closed, you must try to improve their confidence, environment, and your bond with them to establish trust.
Rabbit Sleeping Positions
There are three main sleeping positions that determine your rabbit is sleeping.
- the loaf:
In this position, your rabbit will look just like a loaf of bread.
Its body will be hunched up, but his feet will be tucked neatly underneath so you can’t see them.
- The rug:
Your rabbit will be spread out with his hind legs behind his body. He might stretch his front paws out, or tucked underneath.
- The flop:
This is where your rabbit has flopped onto his side, with his front paws stretched out in front.
How to help my rabbit to sleep with eyes closed?
Fortunately, this will encourage them to sleep with their eyes closed and feel safe.
The following are steps to help your rabbit:
Create a comfortable environment:
Help your rabbit adjust to your home by providing a warm, quiet, and comfortable space for them. Keep the cage in a room away from any noises and commotion that are sure to make them feel unsafe, but you should still be able to engage with them daily.
Provide sufficient space to play:
Playtime is the best exercise you can offer to your rabbit, and they need the room to be able to do so. A small or tight space would only raise his sense of danger. Therefore, be sure that you invest in a sufficiently large hutch, and consider getting a playpen. This will enable them to stretch their legs freely, run around, and eliminate prolonged stress.
Healthy food, wholesome diet:
They need a diet that consists of mostly hay, veggies, greens, and some fruits. Opt for rabbit food that is nutritionally balanced like this Supreme Science brand and high in fiber.
Also, make sure that your rabbit has daily access to fresh drinking water.
Providing lots of toys:
This will encourage their curiosity and enrich playtime. It will allow them to burn off excess energy and they also need them to chew and promote healthy teeth.
Your rabbit needs time to adjust to their new surroundings. If they make unusual sounds, or shiver when picking up, put them down gently. Chat with your rabbit in soft-spoken ways. Try to hold your rabbit gently, but firm and support their back. Let them come to you, and learn to adjust to their preferences.
Rabbits that have just been introduced into a new environment, are sleeping with the eyes open and this is a common behavior in rabbits. These facts can cause a wave of worries in many rabbit owners but that should not be the case.
Building a stronger bond and providing more comfort for your rabbits and may speed up the time it takes for them to feel comfortable and secure enough to sleep with the eyes closed. Some of the best practices include providing a secure and warm environment, engaging in regular playtime, and providing a companion for lonely rabbits.