Rabbits make great pets because they are playful and docile creatures. However, you may be wondering what your rabbit is doing when you wake in the middle of the night, and he or she is hopping about. Rabbits are not a nocturnal species, but they can still be active during the night.
A rabbit may sleep, eat, or play at any time during the night. Rabbits are crepuscular and are most active at dusk and dawn. However, rabbits can be found exhibiting any of these natural behaviors at various times of the night.
In this post, you will learn about the different behaviors that rabbits can exhibit in the wee hours of the night. We’ll also focus on some things you may want to consider to make your rabbit’s night time experiences more comfortable.
Three Things Rabbits do at Night
Rabbits tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, but they can also be active during the night. At any time during the night, your rabbit may display any of its normal behaviors. It is completely normal to find your rabbit wide awake in the middle of the night.
These are the three things rabbits do at night:
1. Rabbits Sleep During the Night
In addition to being active in the night time, your rabbit may also choose to sleep. Rabbits get about 8 to 12 hours of sleep throughout the day, Unlike humans, rabbits will nap at various times throughout the day.
Providing your rabbit with access to natural light can help your bunny stay calm and ensure his or her most active times will be centered around dusk or dawn each day.
Some rabbits actually sleep with their eyes open, so it may be challenging to tell if your rabbit is asleep.
Generally, indoor rabbits may not display this behavior because they feel safe and happy inside your home.
There are a few different ways your rabbit may lay when sleeping. (these positions may be common when your rabbit is relaxing, too!):
- Sprawled out – In this position, your rabbit is stretched out long on its stomach. All of its paws are jutting away from the body, or they may be held in close but still visible.
- Loaf-like – This is honestly the cutest position you can find your rabbit in. In this pose, your rabbit has all four paws tucked under its body, so your rabbit resembles a loaf of bread.
- On its side – This is a common position the rabbit has part of its underside exposed as it lays on its side with its feet out in front of them or tucked close to the body.
Sometimes the temperature of their environment can cause a rabbit to choose a specific position. For example, if it is hot, your rabbit will likely choose to sleep in a position where they are more stretched out. The opposite goes for cold temperatures; they would pull all their limbs in close.
The following are different types of sleep behaviors your rabbit may display during its napping:
- Slow breathing
These three behaviors are common for all rabbits. However, if you are unsure if snoring or particular breathing pattern is normal, consult with your veterinarian.
Do Rabbits Appreciate A Night Light?
Unfortunately, your rabbit would not appreciate a night light. Installing a night light near your rabbit’s cage may disrupt natural behaviors. The presence of light all of the time can stress out your rabbit and have negative impacts on their mood and behavior.
If your rabbit does not have access to natural light and darkness, it can be a severe stressor. An altered schedule will disrupt much of your rabbit’s natural rhythms. In addition to adding stress, it can also cause infertility and other issues around fertility.
Check out this article I wrote to learn more about natural light and how it affects your rabbit.
2. Rabbits Eat During the Night
Just like wild rabbits, your domesticated rabbit will do most of its eating around dawn and dusk. This is the safest time for wild rabbits to be out and about. At these times, they can easily avoid predators. Your rabbit has similar programming but may take to grazing if you provide ample food throughout the day.
Your rabbit’s diet can consist of many different commercial and homegrown foods, such as:
- Grass or brome hay
- Commercially made pellets
- A variety of vegetables
Before giving your rabbit a new food to try, always check in with your veterinarian. It is important to make sure you are keeping your rabbit healthy and safe.
Your rabbit would love to try some different types of greens; the following veggies are all safe for rabbits to eat:
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Mustard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Carrot greens
If you provide your rabbit with constant access to food, they are very likely to munch throughout the night. However, even though you may not be awake all night, it is wise to monitor how much your rabbit is eating to make sure they stay healthy.
3. Rabbits Play During the Night
Playing looks different for every rabbit. Some rabbits are more playful than others. Some rabbits only like to play at a specific time of day.
Generally, around dusk, rabbits tend to be the most social and playful.
Play will also look different depending on the environment in which your rabbit is allowed to play.
The following are different examples of play behaviors that a rabbit can exhibit:
- Pushing things around
- Tossing toys about
- Running around and in circles
- Jumping on and off of furniture
- Enjoy or nibbling on a favorite toy
- Hopping and dancing around
These behaviors demonstrate common play that rabbits engage in. If you own more than one rabbit, they may also choose to play with each other. During the night, any handful of these behaviors can occur.
However, if your rabbit is kept in its cage at night, some of these playful behaviors may be limited. For example, your rabbit will not necessarily have the space to run wild when it is in its enclosure.
Is Your Rabbit Keeping You Up At Night?
Many first-time rabbit owners may experience a period where their rabbit does not seem to settle down once the sun goes down. This is very common among rabbit owners, and there are some ways to reduce noisy outbursts from your rabbit’s cage in the middle of the night.
The following are tips to try if your rabbit is not settling down during your bedtime:
- Playtime – Let your rabbit out of its cage as dusk approaches. This is the rabbit’s most active time of day, and having space to run around will help them burn off energy, hopefully tiring them out enough to fall asleep or at least be less noisy.
- Provide toys – If you can do so safely, give your rabbit a quiet toy to play with and chew on throughout the night. This is a perfect distraction that will help them be more peaceful.
- Prep a comfy cage – Creating a low-stress environment with some soft straw, clean water, and a cozy sleeping spot in their cage will help calm them down whenever they have to spend longer periods in their cage.
Rabbits can be just as active at night as they are during the day. Do not expect your rabbit to go to sleep when you do. Usually, they will mill about in their cage throughout the evening. Make sure they are provided with ample food, water, and distractions. Distractions are key not to disrupt your sleep habits.
During the night, rabbits can sleep, eat, groom, and play. These are normal behaviors and should not cause you any alarm. Now that you know how your rabbit should behave during the night, you can sleep soundly!