Rabbits can see in the dark when there’s a little bit of light – but can’t see in total darkness. When they can’t see at all, rabbits utilize their other senses like their hearing and smell to navigate.
Read on for everything you need to know about a rabbit’s vision, how their sight compares to other animals’ night vision, and more!
Rabbits have an almost 360-degree vision.
This is because they’re prey animals so they need to be able to spot predators as early as possible. Their vision is honed to scan and spot danger, and they’ve evolved so they can best do this.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Peripheral vision: Due to their eyes being on the side of their head, rabbits can see to the side and know what’s going on around them without moving their head to look.
- Color: Rabbits don’t see every color. While they can see blues and greens, they often fail to recognize reds and yellows.
- Depth: Rabbits are far-sighted. So while they can see something far away clearly, anything close to them will be blurry. A rabbit might bob their head to different angles to better judge a distance.
- Planar vision: They can see from above and behind.
- Blind spots: Due to the location of a rabbit’s eyes, they have a small blind spot directly in front of their noses where they can’t see.
Rabbits are also crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk). So when the sun is rising or setting is when they see the best.
When a rabbit can’t see, their other senses have to pick up the slack.
For wild rabbits, not being able to see could be a matter of life or death – so it’s important that they can do everything they can to boost their chances of survival.
In the dark, rabbits use their senses of:
- Smell: Rabbits twitch their noses to help them smell and once they pick up a scent they can prepare to fight or flee.
- Hearing: A rabbit has excellent hearing, meaning that they can detect sound from a distance away and get an advanced warning on something approaching them. Their ears can move too, allowing them to better focus on the sound.
- Touch: Using their whiskers means that rabbits can accurately feel anything in their immediate vicinity. This isn’t so good for predators but can help when moving in darkness to avoid bumping into things.
Though they can’t see, they’re not completely blind to danger. Using their other strong senses allows rabbits to stay on guard and detect predators even when they can’t see them.
Nocturnal animals have a membranous layer on their eye called the tapetum lucidum that allows them to see in the dark. Animals with this will have an advantage when they’re active at night.
All of these animals will be better at seeing in the dark than rabbits:
- Domestic cats
- American cockroaches
Rabbits are safest in their warrens or hutches at night and are wise to be out and about at dawn and dusk – when their vision is best.
A rabbit who doesn’t feel safe in the dark won’t settle down overnight. They might pace, thump, dig, or try to chew through their cage to escape.
There are several techniques you could try to settle your pet rabbit:
- Give them a hidey-hole: A little house or box they can climb into will make the rabbit feel secure. In the wild, rabbits have warrens spread out in the ground to disappear into and hideout.
- Drape a blanket over the cage: This is something you can do to create a feeling of safety. It’s especially good if the cage has bars with gaps between it as it makes a barrier between your rabbit and the world.
- Lock other pets out of the room: Making sure your dogs, cats, or other animals are out of the room means that your rabbit doesn’t have to be constantly listening and worrying about the other animal in the room.
- Give them toys: Providing toys will distract your rabbit from their fear of the darkness and relax them as they play.
- Get another rabbit: Having at least two rabbits means that they can comfort each other when anxious and they’ll feel safe knowing that another rabbit is protecting them and on guard.
- Cover and secure outside hutches: If your rabbit lives outdoors, it’s extra important for you to make sure that the doors are secure and it’s made out of strong material so no predators can get in (and no rabbits can get out). Getting a ventilated cover will also go a long way in sound-proofing and insulating the hutch.
- Put a soft light on: An overhead or floodlight would be too strong, but a lamp or nightlight would be perfect to add enough little for your rabbit to see.
Do Rabbits Like Sleeping in the Dark?
Yes, rabbits will like sleeping in the dark as long as they feel safe. Wild rabbits often sleep in their warrens in darkness, and rabbits will sleep in the night when there’s limited or no light. The only time a rabbit won’t settle is if they don’t feel safe. But that’s less to do with it being dark, and more about if there’s any danger around.
Do Rabbits Sleep With Their Eyes Closed?
Rabbits will only usually sleep with their eyes closed if they’re relaxed and feel safe. But, they’re able to sleep with their eyes open too. This will depend on how safe they feel, and if they trust anyone or anything in the vicinity. You’ll often see a rabbit’s eyes close when they’re in a deep sleep.
Are Rabbits Scared of The Dark?
No, rabbits aren’t scared of the dark – but they don’t like knowing what’s in the darkness that they can’t see. If they catch an unfamiliar smell or hear a sudden sound, they might panic. A nightlight would help to alleviate this stress and comfort your rabbit.