Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

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A white new zealand rabbit sleeping with its eyes closed. Do rabbits sleep with their eyes opened?

Last Updated on July 20, 2021 by Rei

Rabbits can and will sleep with their eyes opened when they’re not completely comfortable with their current environment. This is due to the fact that wild rabbits have to be aware of their surroundings all of the time to not get eaten.

This means being aware while they’re trying to rest. So if your rabbit is sleeping with its eyes closed and in a completely relaxed position, then pat yourself in the back because your rabbit completely trusts you and their current environment(your home).

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why rabbits sleep with their eyes opened:

Reasons why rabbits sleep with their eyes opened.

A black new zealand rabbit sleeping with its eyes closed.

We, rabbit owners, often wondered why our rabbits seem to be resting with their eyes opened.

Here are the different reasons why rabbits sleep with their eyes opened:

Your rabbit is in a new environment.

Rabbits are creatures of habits. They often stay at the same place and hate it when they are moved to a new location because, in the wild, it means they have to use up energy to check the new place for potential dangers.

The same instinct applies to pet rabbits when moved to a new environment. Ever notice the first time you bring your rabbit home they stay in the corner with their eyes opened? Or when you moved apartments?

Rabbits in a new environment would often stay at the corner with their eyes fully opened, nose twitching fast, and a cautious body language.

Some would even act out aggressively while some rabbits would stop eating when moved to a new environment. Make sure that you let your rabbit feel safe by providing treats and letting them explore the new place.

Your rabbit doesnt trust you yet.

Whenever you bring home a new rabbit, you should expect for a few weeks/months that your rabbits wouldn’t trust you. Rabbits have trust issues, it’s not their fault though, nature made them that way.

Otherwise, rabbits wouldn’t survive due to how much threat they face in the wild.

You would notice that your new rabbit would often stare at you and your movements. They would even rest on the corner while looking at you.

This means that your rabbit hasn’t trusted you yet and you need to up your game and give your rabbits some treats and pet them. Don’t rush them though, the “bonding process” usually takes weeks depending on your rabbit’s personality.

The important thing to remember is to never rush your rabbit to play to gain their trust. This would only prolong the process even more.

Your rabbit is cautious of your other pets.

If you have other pets like cats and dogs around the house, your rabbits would need time to adjust for that. For the time being, don’t let your rabbits out of their hutch but bring your other pets close to it.

This would make it so that your rabbits would feel comfortable with your pet’s smell over time. You should also make sure that your other pet is well trained to not harm your rabbits.

Your rabbit might be sick or in pain.

If any of the things I mentioned above are cleared and your rabbit still sleeps with its eyes opened, then you should consider bringing your rabbit to a veterinarian.

Rabbits that are in pain would often change their behavior. But, a rabbit that’s sick would usually be accompanied with multiple symptoms like:

  • Appetite changes
  • Diarrhea or any changes to their stool
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Changes in their fur
  • Respiratory changes

If you notice any of these signs then consider bringing your rabbits to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Does all rabbit breeds sleep with their eyes opened?

Rabbits sleeping with their eyes open is not really a matter of breed but on how safe they feel in their current environment. But yes, all rabbit breeds are capable of sleeping while their eyes are open due to the fact that all of them have the same third eyelids.

This third eyelid is a clear eyelid that protects their eyes from the elements which in turn allows them to rest while scanning their surroundings for potential dangers.

How to tell if your rabbit is asleep?

You can tell if your rabbit is sleeping by looking at its nose and body language. Rabbit’s nose would always wiggle when they’re awake.

This is because rabbit’s nose are their most potent instinct that protects them from danger. Rabbit’s noses are capable of detecting predators before they even spot them.

If your rabbit is in a relaxed position and its nose started to slow down, it means that your rabbit is fully relaxed and is ready to fall asleep or already asleep.

What does it mean when yoru rabbit sleeps with its eyes closed?

Brown and white new zealand rabbit sleeping on the floor with its eyes closed

When your rabbit sleeps with its eyes completely closed and with a completely relaxed body language, then congratulate yourself because your rabbits fully trust you.

It also means that your rabbit is now comfortable with your new home.

Conclusion

Rabbits sleeping with their eyes opened is completely normal because rabbits have a natural instinct to be alert at all times even when resting.

Rabbits also have a third eyelid, which allows them to simultaneously scan their environment for potential danger as well as rest.

You can tell that your rabbit is sleeping if its body is completely relaxed or when its nose is not wiggling.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 16, 2021) Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/do-rabbits-sleep-with-their-eyes-open/.
"Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Open?." Bunny Horde - November 16, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/do-rabbits-sleep-with-their-eyes-open/

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