It takes a lot of energy to be as cute as bunnies are, which is why they need their beauty sleep. However, if you’ve only had a pet bunny for a short time or you’ve only interacted with wild bunnies, you may not know how bunnies sleep.
It is rare for humans to see a bunny sleeping because these prey animals will only sleep when they feel completely safe. Even domesticated bunnies obey their natural instincts to maintain alertness while sleeping. It may take your pet bunny lots of time before it is comfortable falling fast asleep around you.
Your bunny is probably getting plenty of sleep even if you have never observed it sleeping. Here is what you need to know about a bunny’s sleeping habits and how to create a comfortable sleeping environment for a bunny.
What Is a Bunny’s Sleep Schedule Like?
Bunnies operate on a crepuscular schedule. This means that they feed, move around, and play in the early morning and in the evening. They get most of their sleep during the night and in the middle of the day.
Crepuscular circadian rhythms are common among other woodland prey animals such as squirrels and some deer. Staying active at dawn or dusk gives bunnies plenty of light to see where they’re going, but there are still enough shadows to hide from predators. Even in a safe home, bunnies cannot let go of their natural instinct to avoid predators.
Your bunny will probably get most of its sleep at night and take naps during the day. However, don’t be worried if you notice activity during the night. Bunnies don’t sleep continuously and like to get up and move around after a few minutes or hours of sleep. This is perfectly normal, although if it is affecting your sleep, you may want to remove noisy toys from your bunny’s play area at night.
How Long Do Bunnies Sleep at a Time?
When we humans go to sleep at night, we usually lay down and go to sleep for several hours continuously. Although bunnies need the same amount or more sleep than we do in a day, about 8 to 11 hours, they get this sleep in short bursts instead of one long period of sleep.
For any prey animal, it does not make sense to sleep for long periods of time. Sleeping for hours on end leaves an animal vulnerable to attacks from predators. Instead, they will usually sleep in cycles of a few minutes to an hour of drowsing followed by brief periods of alertness.
Even when bunnies go into REM sleep, or deep sleep, they will only sleep for a few minutes at a time. This period of sleep will last up to an hour. Then the rabbit will wake up, move around, maybe relieve itself, and go back to sleep. While it is awake, your bunny is just confirming that it is still safe to sleep (and that there are no interesting treats that require its attention).
Are Bunnies Ever in Deep Sleep?
Bunnies experience REM sleep just like humans do. REM sleep is a period of deep sleep that is crucial to restoring an animal’s energy levels. They may even dream during this period. So, bunnies do experience periods of deeper restorative sleep.
However, most bunnies are never fast asleep in the sense that humans are. At any point while it is sleeping, your bunny is ready to wake up and start running at the first sign of danger. Even if its ears are relaxed, a bunny’s hearing is always active and it will probably wake up if it hears a loud noise. The only exception is older bunnies that are hard of hearing that may sleep through anything.
Even when your bunny is sleeping, it may look awake because its eyes seem open. Bunnies have a third eyelid that is a clear membrane. They usually only close this eyelid while sleeping to protect their eyeballs but still allow some light in. This lets the bunny see if there is any danger around and fool potential predators into thinking it is awake. If you notice your bunny sleeping with its eyes fully closed, that means that it trusts you.
How Do Bunnies Get Comfortable for Sleeping?
Bunnies like to sleep in warm places that offer some seclusion. They may stretch out under furniture, in their litter box, or in a pet bed. If your bunny is comfortable with you, it will sleep pretty much anywhere.
When bunnies fall asleep, their breathing and movements slow down. Even their noses stop twitching. You may notice its ears falling into a relaxed position and it may even close its eyes.
There are a few positions that bunnies like to sleep in.
This is the most common sleeping position for bunnies. A bunny will settle down on all fours and tuck all of its feet under its body so that it looks like a bread loaf. This allows the bunny to relax while remaining ready to start running at the first sign of danger.
A bunny that feels very comfortable may lay down on its belly and stretch its back legs out behind it. Its front paws will also be stretched out or tucked under its body. Sometimes, it will lay its chin on the ground and close its eyes.
A flop is the sign of a very comfortable bunny! A very comfortable bunny will lie down on its side and stretch its legs out to the other side. Bunnies can be very dramatic when they flop. They spend a few minutes digging at the right spot then throw themselves on the ground.
Bunnies are prey animals, so their natural instincts tell them to sleep for a few minutes at a time, check their surroundings, then repeat that sleep cycle. Even when sleeping, bunnies are alert to any sign of danger. However, a comfortable pet bunny will fall asleep anywhere and may show its ease by flopping on its side and closing its eyes.