Well, it depends. What you should know is that rabbits can sleep with both eyes closed and open. It all goes down to what the rabbit feels. If it is relaxed and calm, it will rest with both eyes closed. It is an intelligent guess to say that a nervous and anxious but tired rabbit will sleep with its eyes open.
When a rabbit is asleep but both its eyes are open, what really happens? Well, there is usually a third eyelid, technically called the nictitating membrane, that closed when the rabbit sleeps. The membrane is too thin to be seen by the naked human eye.
Since rabbits are prey animals, it is reasonable when they have an alertness advantage. When the cute bunny is asleep, the membrane ensures that the rabbit is vigilant throughout the inactivity of sleep. If the lights flicker, the rabbit will wake up quickly and be aware of its surroundings. If a threat approaches, it will run to a safe place.
A Rabbit’s Nictitating Membrane: The Third Eyelid
Your eye cannot see this third eyelid, maybe because it is almost transparent. It is on the surface (or the front) of the rabbit’s eye, and there, it serves many functions. The following table opens you up to the importance of this essential part of the rabbit’s anatomy:
|The membrane is like a shield||Like the human eyelid, this membrane prevents irritants like dirt and grit from getting into the bunny’s eyes.|
|Moistening the eye||Humans often blink to get their eyes wet or moistened. However, rabbits don’t because the membrane wets the eyes.|
|Assisting in dozing||Your rabbit can have a nap without having to worry about closing its eye entirely.|
|Helps to deal with predators during sleep||Rabbits will survive because the membrane ensures that they see approaching enemies.|
The membrane means that your bunny can be asleep without actually having to closed to eyes. And that’s crucial because your rabbit is in a pivotal position to deal with any threats.
Rabbits And Sleep: Do They Really Feel Safe?
Since they are prey animals, it would be inaccurate to say that rabbits feel safe all the time. Anytime a rabbit chooses to sleep, a small part of it is worried that something (a predator) might pounce on it. This justifies the existence of the nictitating membrane and why rabbits need it to survive sleep.
If danger arises, it would be easier for a rabbit to notice it since its eyes won’t really be closed.
Are There Rabbits That Don’t Sleep With Eyes Open?
Regardless of the breeds, all bunnies sleep with their eyes open most of the time. The only time a rabbit will draw in both its eyelids is when it feels safe and relaxed. It is accurate to say that wild rabbits sleep with their eyes open more than pet rabbits because of their different environments. And your pet will engage its nictitating membrane when it is threatened by anything, even a vacuum cleaner. It will also thump its hind legs to tell you that things are not okay.
When a bunny is done playing or exercising, it is likely to go into its sleep with its eyes closed. This time is usually during the mid-morning hours when the rabbit is most energetic. At the moment, the rabbit will get a little too exhausted and won’t hesitate to sleep deeply.
Flopping: The Explainer
With the exhaustion, the rabbit will experience flopping or falling into a deep sleep. If you’re a new rabbit owner, you may get startled when you see the rabbit flopping. It may even seem that the rabbit is experiencing a heart attack.
When the flopping happens, do not push the rabbit to wake up. If you want to scoop the bunny, do it silently so that it does not lose its sleep. Any intricate touches or loud noises are likely to startle the little one. And if the bunny feels scared, it may nip or bite you – that is something you don’t want happening.
Knowing If Your Bunny Is In Slumberland
When our pets are asleep, we always take time and watch how cute they look. Once you understand how your rabbit sleeps, the bond will grow, and the rabbit will become sociable. If it dozes next to you, it won’t have a problem engaging its eyelids because you are not a threat.
Sometimes, a rabbit will close its eyes not because it is sleepy but relaxed. A show of smoothness and contentment means that the rabbit is under your sleep. So, try as much as hard not to make any noises that would wake it up.
To answer the concern, here are the signs you should look for to know if your bunny is asleep:
1. Its ears will be inactive and folded. This should imply that the rabbit is not listening to anything but its sleep.
2. Its nose will be relaxed and still. When the rabbit is not sleeping, you will see its nose twitching. When sleeping kicks in, well, the nose will rest easy.
3. It will breathe slowly and steadily. The relaxation and contentment mean that the rabbit has nothing to worry about. So, its heartbeat rate will go down, and the rising and falling of its chest will also slow down.
4. It will engage its teeth in some form of chattering. This is just instinctual behavior happening, and you shouldn’t worry about anything.
Furtherly, the rabbit’s location will tell you if it is sleeping or not. If a bunny needs to go into a deep sleep and wonder about the rabbit hole, it will choose a private location, like a corner in your house. On the other hand, wild rabbits will go underground – something that your pet bunny will try replicating. The location it will get will be dark and covered.
Final Words – Explaining Rabbit Stares
Sometimes, rabbits choose to stare into the distance complicatedly. As a rabbit owner, seeing that for the first time may get you worried, but no need to be. The rabbit has probably smelled or heard something and needs to know what it is. If you walk in on your rabbit, you may think that it is asleep – it probably isn’t.
But you can do something to know if the rabbit is sleeping or staring into the blankness. Try swinging your finger from one direction to the other. If the rabbit moves with the finger, it means that the rabbit’s nictitating membrane was acting, and you just woke the bunny up.
If the bunny is awake, it will keep staring. It will want to protect you and ensure that you’re out of danger because it has picked something with its senses.
But if the rabbit keeps staring at you, it could be seeing you as a threat. A deep stare implies that the bunny is assessing you to see if you’ll make a panic move. It will wait until it smells your danger. If nothing happens, it will calm down slowly.
A rabbit sleeps around 8 hours each day, but it may doze throughout the day, even if its eyes are open. If you’re unsure about the situation, always take it that the bunny is sleeping. So, move around with caution and avoid making any noises. If you go in for a touch, ensure that you are gentle and peaceful about it.
Since you know that bunnies sometimes sleep with their eyes open, why don’t you find out if rabbits recognize their owners? Or their ideal temperature? Or if they are hard to take care of? Choose your read, but not before you leave your comment below. And receive my big fat thank you for reading till the end.