How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Sleeping?

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A white rabbit sleeping in a relaxed position with its eyes closed.

Last Updated on August 2, 2021 by Rei

You can tell that your rabbit is sleeping by looking for the usual sign like no nose twitching, relaxed ears and body, slow breathing, snoring, and relaxed sleeping position like laying on their side.

The way they sleep would depend on their current comfort level in you or their environment. Rabbits would only sleep in a relaxed position if they have complete trust in you and your home.

Now that I’ve provided the gist of the article, keep on reading to know the details on how to tell if your rabbit is sleeping:

Signs your rabbit is sleeping

A brown rabbit sleeping with its head down in a relaxed body language position.
“Where does a 500 lb rabbit sleep?” by ap. is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

No nose twitching.

The lack of nose twitching is a sign that your rabbit feels safe in its environment. The reason rabbits twitch their nose is to have a wider range of smell to spot predators.

Rabbits in the wild need to constantly be vigilant in order to survive. They would even twitch their nose while they sleep.

So, if your rabbit is not twitching their nose, or it’s a slow-twitch, then your rabbit is letting go and probably sleeping.

Relaxed ears and body.

You can tell that your rabbit is sleeping by looking at their body language as well as their ears. Just like most domesticated pet animals, a rabbit’s ears can tell a story.

Rabbits’ ears are the most important survival tool they have in the wild. It lets them avoid danger by hearing the predator long before the predator even sees them.

So, if your rabbit has its ears down, it’s safe to say that they’re letting their guard down and are trying to sleep.

In addition to relaxed ears, a sleeping rabbit would have their body in what we call a “Flop” position(more on that later).

Slow breathing

As I mentioned earlier, rabbits that are sleeping comfortably is not worried about predators and is only using their nose minimally.

You can tell that your rabbit is sleeping by looking at how they breathe. Sleeping rabbits have slower breathing compared to an awake rabbit whose breathing is so fast it’s almost like they’re shaking.

So don’t worry if you see your rabbit sleeping on its side not moving.

Snoring

While relatively rare, rabbits do snore sometimes. You can tell by listening to weird sounds coming from your rabbit. It’s usually quiet so most people wouldn’t notice it.

While snoring is completely normal for rabbits, weird sounds could also indicate dental and respiratory problems. It’s best to get your rabbit checked out by a veterinarian just to be safe.

Does your rabbit look like a pancake?

A brown rabbit that's sleeping in a flopped position, fully relaxed.
“Rabbit Rest Time” by Mark Philpott is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

If your rabbit looks like the picture above, give yourself a reward or something because your rabbit trust and love you.

Rabbits only do this when they’re sure that no predators are nearby. It’s a sign of comfort in their current environment.

Common sleeping position and their meaning.

Loaf
A rabbit sleeping in a loaf position meaning it's mildly relaxed.

The loaf is when your rabbit tucks their paws underneath its body while sleeping. This position is the initial position they would take before fully relaxing and doing either the flopped or pancake position.

Flopped
A rabbit sleeping on its side fully relaxed. It's called the flopped position when sleeping.
“rabbit sleeping on the cluttered floor” by torisan3500 is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

The flopped position is when your rabbit lays on its side while sleeping. They would usually suddenly fall down when doing this position.

It means that your rabbit is comfortable around you and in their environment.

Pancake
A rabbit sleeping with its hind legs stretched out. This is called the pancake position because when looked from above, the rabbit is flat.

The pancake position is when the rabbit falls on its stomach while its hind legs are stretched out. It’s another sign that your rabbit trust and is comfortable in you and your home.

What if your rabbits eyes are still open?

Rabbits can sleep while their eyes are open. They can do this because they developed a third transparent eyelid in order to protect their eyes while sleeping.

The reason why rabbits sleep with their eyes open is that they don’t feel safe in their environment. Rabbits do this because, in the wild, they could be killed at any time if they let go and let their guard down.

While some rabbits are naturally cautious by nature, some do sleep with their eyes half-close or even fully closed. It all depends on your rabbit’s personality and comfort level.

What time does a rabbit usually sleep?

Rabbits are crepuscular creatures meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk.

Rabbits usually sleep in short bursts all day long, usually after eating. What I personally observe with my rabbits is they eat, sleep for up to an hour or more, play, and repeat.

How long do rabbits sleep?

Rabbits sleep in short bursts usually after eating or playing. They do this in repeat all day long.

But on average, rabbit’s total sleep time is 8 hours a day.

Do rabbits prefer to sleep with the lights on or off?

Rabbits don’t care if the lights are on or off, they decide to sleep based on their energy level or after eating and playing for a bit.

But you should still give your rabbit the option to sleep in the dark if they want to by providing a hideaway hole. This hideaway hole could be as simple as a cardboard box with a hole in it.

This mimics what wild rabbits do when they want to sleep and feel safe doing it.

Summary

Rabbits would sleep differently depending on their current comfort level in their environment. In the wild, rabbits would sleep with their eyes open and would be alert the whole time due to fear of predators.

Although pet rabbits are not in any danger, the instinct stays the same.

You can tell that a rabbit is sleeping comfortably if there is no/minimal nose twitching, relaxed/down ears, slow breathing, snoring, and laying on its side while sleeping.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (November 16, 2021) How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Sleeping?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-tell-if-a-rabbit-is-sleeping/.
"How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Sleeping?." Bunny Horde - November 16, 2021, https://bunnyhorde.com/how-to-tell-if-a-rabbit-is-sleeping/

Sources and further reading