Do you see your rabbit lying down all the time and wonder “how long do rabbits sleep?” Rabbits usually sleep for 8 to 9 hours a day.
Understanding the daily sleeping patterns of your rabbits will help you provide them with the best sleep ever. Read on to learn more!
- Rabbits sleep with their eyes open.
- They have different phases and positions when sleeping.
- Rabbits don’t move a lot in their sleep.
- They are crepuscular.
- They love sleeping together and with other pets.
How Long Do Rabbits Sleep?
On average, healthy adult rabbits sleep 8.4 hours a day. They can have up to twelve hours of sleep depending on sleep quality.
Unlike humans and most pets, rabbits must be careful and alert to danger since they are prey animals. In fact, scientists have proved that rabbits are mostly light sleepers.
They frequently wake up to low footsteps sounds and have shorter periods of sleep.
When rabbits are in deep sleep, they continuously sleep for 8 or more hours. When they have light sleep sessions, they limit their sleep to 2–3 continuous hours per day.
The sleeping pattern can vary according to the way your pet rabbit has become used to sleeping. Experts have said that some rabbits can have different sleep habits unique to themselves.
Scientists observed diverse sleeping patterns in baby rabbits that were growing. (1) Like with humans, rabbits’ sleep has phases. They may experience all phases in a sleep cycle or not.
The phases are below.
- Drowsy: This happens when the rabbit is going to sleep or waking up. They slowly become more relaxed. Rabbits have spasms and lay their heads.
- Active Sleep Without Rapid Eye Movement: This is when rabbits are sleeping, but they don’t show eye movement. They twitch and have quick respiration.
- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep: In REM sleep, rabbits move their eyes randomly and may have more dreams. This phase of profound sleep is characteristic of mammals, so humans also experience it.
- Quiet Sleep: Rabbits keep still in quiet sleep and breathe slowly. Their eyes can be opened or closed.
- Q-state: Q-state and quiet sleep are alike. The difference is that rabbits breathe fast and vibrate their noses in Q-state.
How Do You Know When Your Rabbit Is Sleeping?
Rabbits rest all day simply lying on the floor, and it is hard to guess whether they are actually sleeping. Here are some important signs to ensure that your bunny is sleeping.
The easiest thing you can notice is that your pet bunny stops moving its body parts. They look like a log kept on the floor. They adjust themselves into a relaxed position and lay their ears against their head.
They are not yet sleeping if their ears are pricked up. You can always make sure rabbits are sleeping by looking at their ears.
They stop wiggling their noses when they start sleeping. When they are awake, you can see rabbits wiggling their noses. But when they sleep, they stop doing that.
The breathing pattern changes. They start to breathe slowly when sleeping. You cannot notice it unless you are close to them. Just like humans, some rabbits snore lightly while sleeping.
Attention: do not check if your rabbit is sleeping by looking at its eyes. Why? Because sometimes your rabbit’s eyes will be partially open while sleeping. They do not fully close their eyes like some other pets and humans.
Rabbits have 3 eyelids, so sometimes they only close the third one, which is translucent. It is called the nictitating membrane, and it protects and moisturizes the eye while sleeping. (2)
This difference in rabbit anatomy is an evolutionary advantage for rabbits in the wild because predators will think they are awake, and this increases their chances of survival.
Signs of Dreaming
Can rabbits actually dream? Of course. Rabbits are dreamers. There is no way for humans to get to know what is going on in their minds and what they are dreaming about.
But during Rapid Eye Movement sleep, their eyes move fast, and their body can shudder a little. It means that their brain is asleep, but their body patterns are like when they are awake.
Experts have said that these are signs that your bunny is dreaming.
Can Rabbits See While Sleeping?
You know rabbits sleep with their eyes open, but can they actually see when they are sleeping? No, they cannot.
Rabbits keep their eyes open as a measure to prevent themselves from getting attacked by predators. When their eyes are open, predators think they are awake, and they tend to ignore the rabbit.
We can consider it as a self-defense mechanism for wild bunnies. When their eyes are open, rabbits can detect any dangerous approach sooner than when their eyes are closed, since light passes through them.
Are Rabbits Nocturnal?
So, are bunnies nocturnal? Rabbits are not nocturnal animals, but they aren’t diurnal animals as well.
Many people are surprised when they hear rabbits are crepuscular because they sleep a lot during the daytime.
But rabbits are most active during the twilight hours. So make sure you play with your bunny during dusk and dawn. They surely enjoy it because they are more active at this time.
What Do They Do in the Dark?
You may wonder: if rabbits are not nocturnal, what do they do in the dark? If your rabbit has not had enough sleep during the daytime, it will probably sleep another few hours at night.
Instead of sleeping, they may stay up all night. Rabbits are more alert during 5–11 pm. So your rabbit might stay awake during that time and fall asleep later.
Are They Scared of Darkness?
Rabbits are not scared of darkness at all. They are used to both light and darkness. The only thing is that they are more sensitive to light.
So during night hours, domestic rabbits are more comfortably relaxed. But the rabbit’s eyesight is not the best in the world.
Whenever they hear or smell danger and cannot see it, they feel insecure and fearful.
What Positions Do Rabbits Sleep In?
Bunnies are the cutest creatures in the world. Their sleeping positions are even cuter. You may often see these sleeping postures.
1. Curled up in a Ball
Like cats and some other pets, rabbits also curl their body into the form of a ball. This position helps them conserve body heat.
2. All Stretched Out
Rabbits lie in the hutch on their stomach with their legs stretched out behind them. They look more relaxed in this position. It helps them to reduce heat during sunny days.
3. Lying on One Side
Rabbits sleep lying on their side. They may look dead, but they enjoy sleeping in that position, so don’t worry!
Sleeping upright is another self-defense method for rabbits. When upright, they can easily see if they are getting attacked. Mostly, wild rabbits sleep in the upright position.
At the same time, it is funny and lovely to see when a domestic rabbit sleeps upright.
Check out this video!
Do They Like Sleeping With Other Rabbits?
Rabbits are a friendly and social species. Rather than being alone, rabbits prefer company. They love to sleep with other rabbits once they become acquainted with each other.
You may have seen pets like cats and rabbits sleep close to each other to preserve heat. Rabbits also like to sleep with other rabbits. Also, they feel safer when they are together.
READ MORE: Do Rabbits Need to Be in Pairs?
1. Do bunnies like to cuddle?
Rabbits love to cuddle! But they may be afraid sometimes if they don’t know you enough, or if you hold them too far from the ground, so don’t force it. If they move away, let them.
2. How many hours do baby rabbits sleep?
Baby rabbits sleep for 20 hours every day or more.
Getting adequate, good-quality sleep is necessary for the well-being of your bunnies.
Now that you know the answer to “how long do rabbits sleep?” and how their sleep is, you can help them sleep peacefully and be well-rested.
Also, make sure you provide your rabbit with a safe and cozy place to sleep.
Avoid disturbing them and let them wake up in their own time. Always be certain that your pet is happy and safe.
1. Thoman EB, Waite SP, Desantis DT, Denenberg VH. Ontogeny of sleep and wake states in the rabbit. Animal Behaviour. 1979;27:95–106.
2. McVean A. McGill University [Internet]. Office for Science and Society. 2019. Available from: https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/did-you-know/rabbits-have-hinged-skulls-and-three-eyelids
Andreea is a very passionate content creator and her purpose is to provide you with the most interesting articles, while constantly discovering new facts. She’s been freelance writing for the past five years and has created numerous articles and educational materials while managing her own mom blog.
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