Do you see your rabbits sleeping most of the day? If you’re new to these adorable companion animals, you may think that they catch their daily dose of zzzs during the day and are wide awake at night. Or do you wonder if rabbits sleep at all when you see them sprawled on the floor with their eyes open the whole day? Since getting enough shut-eye is as vital to rabbits as it is to humans, we understand why many fur parents want to know about the sleeping habits of their little furry bundle of joy.
Rabbits Sleeping Facts: When Do Rabbits Sleep
You probably see your bun sleeping all day, which leads you to assume that rabbits are nocturnal animals. But that’s not really the case. They’re not nocturnal (creatures who are active at night). They’re not diurnal (those who are active during the day) either. Instead, rabbits are crespular by nature. That means they’re most alert and energetic during the twilight hours. So don’t be surprised if your pet wants to play just as night falls or before the sun rises.
That habit gives them an advantage in the wild. Predators like owls are nocturnal, which makes it hard for them to see before dark. On the other hand, hawks are diurnal. They hunt during the day and have trouble seeing at night. As a result, rabbits have limited encounters with such animals because they’re most active when their main predators aren’t in their most efficient hunting mode.
Your pet bunny may not have to worry about predators, but he’s still hard-wired to feel more secure during the hours when he’s less likely to encounter animals that prey on him.
Rabbits Sleeping Facts: Where Do Rabbits Sleep
Wild rabbits live and sleep on the ground in something called a burrow. Their homes also have tunnel systems known as warrens, which connect the different areas where they nest and rest. These warrens can sometimes go as deep as 10 feet underground.
Your bun won’t have to dig tunnels in your home. So, where he sleeps will depend on where you keep him. Free-roaming buns snooze just about anywhere they want. If you’re going to provide an inviting sleeping area for your pet, you can create something that mimics a burrow. This means a dark corner that’s tucked away from your home’s busy spots. Plenty of soft bedding will give the place a burrow-like feel.
Rabbits Sleeping Facts: How Much Sleep Do Rabbits Need
Rabbits sleep between 7-12 hours on average. However, their sleeping pattern is different from ours. They’re light sleepers, probably because they’re prey animals and need to be on their guard. Also, buns get their much-needed shut-eye in two blocks of time. That’s from late morning until the sun starts to set (around 9 am to 5 pm) and then in the middle of the night until just before dawn (11 pm to 4 am). The times may vary depending on the time of the year, the location, and, of course, your fur baby’s preference.
Rabbits Sleeping Positions
Buns sleep in a variety of positions. Like humans, they’ll look for one that’s most comfortable for them. Still, there are some positions you’re likely to find him in.
Your bun takes on the appearance of a loaf of bread in this position. His front legs will be tucked under his chest and he’s hunkered down with his ears lying back. This is a safe sleeping position for rabbits. Because their feet are folded underneath the body, they can quickly get up and run at the first sign of danger.
Some rabbits like to lie down on their stomach or side with their hind legs and tails stretched out behind them. They then either rest their head on their paws or keep it upright. Like when they’re in the loaf position, they may lay their ears back, although some buns can sleep with their ears erect.
Unlike when they do the loaf, it will take several seconds for them to get on their feet in the sprawl position. As such, the sprawl is not as safe for them as the loaf. If your rabbit sprawls next to you, it means you’ve earned his trust and that he feels secure in your presence.
You may be surprised, or even a little scared, when you see your bun flop for the first time. That’s because it looks as if your pet suddenly toppled over and died. In this position, rabbits rest on their sides with their feet sticking out.
Buns usually flop only when they feel extremely secure in their surroundings. So if your pet goes into this position, it means he feels comfortable with you and his living environment. Rabbits typically fall into a deeper slumber when they flop.
How to Tell If Your Rabbit Is Sleeping
Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open. This is one of nature’s ways to ensure the species’ survival. If a rabbit’s eyes are open, predators may assume that the bun is awake and will look for another prey. That’s fine and dandy in the wild, but if you have a domesticated rabbit, you may want to know if your pet is getting enough sleep. If he snoozes with his eyes open, it’s hard to determine if he’s asleep, right?
Fortunately, some signs will tell you if your sweet fur baby is sleeping.
- Nose wiggle: A fast wiggling nose is a pretty clear sign that your rabbit’s awake. As your bun starts to fall asleep, the wiggling will slow down. It might stop completely when he’s fast asleep, but some bun’s noses continue to wiggle very slowly or sporadically.
- Relaxed ears: Although rabbits sometimes sleep with their ears upright, those appendages usually lay on his back when he’s sleeping. The ears also stop moving. So if your pet’s ears are swiveling, that means he’s still alert and aware of his surroundings.
- Slowed breathing: Like humans, rabbits breathe more slowly when they’re asleep. You’ll be able to notice the difference because rabbits are fast breathers. Sometimes, they even shake as they rapidly take in air.
- Snoring: Yes, rabbits snore. If you hear a grunting or rasping sound coming from your bun, it could be that he’s fast asleep and snoring. However, snoring can sometimes indicate that your rabbit is sick. If he doesn’t usually snore, a check-up can determine if everything’s well with your bun.
- Dreaming: Rabbits dream, too. When they do, their legs, mouth, eyelids, or tails may twitch. Dreaming usually indicates deep sleep
How to Help Your Rabbit Get a Restful Sleep
Rabbits have their own sleeping schedule and pattern. However, there are ways you can encourage your pet to wind down and get those needed zzzzs.
- Tire your bun out: Rabbits need exercise. And like humans, a tired rabbit tends to fall asleep faster than one who has been sitting around doing nothing all day.
- Put a blanket over his enclosure or cage: Covering his pen with a blanket can signal to your bun that it’s time to rest. It can also help in calming down your rabbit.
- Maintain a schedule: Rabbits are intelligent creatures. Thus, sticking to a routine lets your pet know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to play. However, create a schedule with your rabbit’s natural inclinations in mind.
Getting enough rest can help your pet live a healthy life. It may be confusing at first for a new bun owner to pinpoint a rabbit’s sleep pattern, but with a bit of practice, you’ll soon be able to tell if your pet is ready for bed.
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