Is your rabbit like a true-to-life energizer bunny? You know, one who keeps going and going and never seems to sleep? Because adequate rest is vital to humans and animals alike, you might wonder if your ultra-active pet is getting the zzzzs he needs.
How long do rabbits sleep anyway? Let’s explore the snoozing habits of these delightful animal companions and see if your bun is sleeping enough to keep him healthy.
Do They Sleep All Night?
Like humans, how long rabbits sleep varies. Studies on buns show that they sleep between 8-12 hours on average. However, they don’t get all those sleep hours in one go. As prey animals, rabbits tend to be light sleepers because they’re always looking to get out of a predator’s reach quickly. That’s why your pet will only sleep longer and deeper if he feels safe and comfortable in your home.
All breeds of rabbits, from the mini lops to the rex’s to the big breeds, usually take tiny naps throughout the day, getting two longer snoozing sessions in between. Still, even when they’re sleeping deeply, their senses remain attuned to their surroundings, alerting them to approaching danger. So don’t be surprised if your fur baby quickly springs to his feet even though he seems to be in deep slumber.
When Do They Sleep?
Because you often see your bun sleeping during the day, you might think rabbits are nocturnal (active at night). They’re not. Neither are they diurnal (active during the day). Instead, they’re crepuscular, meaning they’re most energetic and alert around dawn and just after sundown. This trait may have come about due to the species’ status as prey animals. It’s harder for predators to see during dusk and twilight hours, so it’s safer for rabbits to move about at those times.
Usually, rabbits sleep from late morning until early in the evening and then snooze again in the middle of the night until around dawn. Of course, not all buns follow the same pattern. Their sleep time may vary depending on your location and your pet’s personality.
Where Do They Drift Off?
In the wild, rabbits usually sleep together in shelters they create underground. These shelters are called burrows, and they’re interconnected by a series of tunnels that includes areas for nesting and sleeping. These burrows can go as deep as 3 meters and have several entrances.
Of course, your pet won’t have to dig for a sleeping area in your home. Instead, he’ll get his rest where you place his cage or pen. Free-roaming rabbits can sleep anywhere they please, and you’ll be surprised at some of the spots they choose.
You can make your pet’s sleeping area more inviting by creating a burrow-like atmosphere. Choose a place in your home that’s somewhat dark and away from foot traffic. Provide some soft bedding to encourage your bun to nap in his cozy sleeping area and develop a healthy sleep schedule.
Do Rabbits Need Complete Darkness?
A rabbit’s crepuscular nature enables him to sleep in total darkness, with the light on or anywhere in between. As such, you won’t need to cover his enclosure or place a night light in his sleeping area to get him to sleep. Instead, expose your bun to as much natural light as possible. For example, place him in a room that lets in some sunlight. This helps your bun maintain a regular sleep schedule. In addition, keeping him in a room that receives sunlight can aid in the prevention of Vitamin D deficiency.
Do They Sleep with Their Eyes Open?
You might not know it, but your rabbit could be taking a nap right in front of you. That’s because rabbits can sleep with their eyes open. In fact, they often do so. They close their peepers while sleeping, too, but only when they feel secure in their surroundings.
Buns have a third eyelid called a nictitating membrane. The eyelid is transparent and keeps the eyes moist even when they remain open for long periods. This evolutionary mechanism offers some advantages. When the eyes are open, they’re more sensitive to changes in light and allow your pet to react quickly to an approaching threat. Predators might also think that a rabbit’s awake if the eyes remain open, saving a bun from becoming a target.
How Can You Tell If They’re Asleep?
Because rabbits can sleep with their eyes open, it’s hard to tell if your bun is snoozing or not. If you’re concerned about whether he’s getting the rest he needs, you can look for signs that he’s filling his sleep quota. These include:
- Slow breathing: When awake, rabbits usually breathe so fast that they almost shake. Hence, you can easily see the difference when your pet has fallen asleep just by looking at how slowly he breathes. You can try measuring your pet’s respiration rate by the rise and fall of his stomach as he exhales and inhales.
- Relaxed body and ears: The ears of a sleeping rabbit usually lay flat on its head (especially these lop breeds!). That’s a clear sign that your bun has started snoozing because buns tend to keep their ears upright when they’re awake and alert.
- No nose twitching: Have you noticed how your fur baby keeps wiggling his nose? That’s his way of controlling the air he breathes and picking up the scent of predators. So when your rabbit’s nose is still, that means he’s relaxed and probably asleep. Take note, though that some buns still twitch their nose while sleeping. Still, it will likely be a slow wiggle.
- Snoring and some other sounds: Yes, rabbits snore, too. However, it’s a relatively rare occurrence and is more common with overweight buns. It can also indicate illness, so get your pet checked out if you hear him snore just to be sure he’s okay. Other noises buns make when they’re asleep include chewing, tutting, or hiccupping sounds.
Do Rabbits like to Rest in Groups?
In the wild, rabbits sleep together in burrows. Moreover, because they’re sociable creatures, they love being with others of their kind. If you have two bunnies, letting them sleep together will be an excellent idea.
Your pet needs his beauty rest as much as you do. Knowing the answer to the question of how long do rabbits sleep can help you determine if your fur baby is getting his required snooze time.
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