Like humans, animals have an internal clock system that guides them when to eat, play, or sleep. Your furry friend is no exception. But unlike most animals, rabbits have an interesting schedule.
You may notice your bunny sleeps more during the day and assume she remains active throughout the night. So nocturnal, right?
Not really; rabbits don’t remain active throughout the night. So if not nocturnal, what are they?
Keep reading to find out.
What Does “Nocturnal” Mean?
Nocturnal means active at night, so nocturnal animals are those most active at night. Most nocturnal animals rest during the day and remain active at night. They do this to avoid the most active predators during the day.
And since they spend their active hours in the dark, nocturnal animals develop ways to survive in the dark.
A good example of nocturnal animals is bats. They not only have extreme night vision but also use echolocation to survive in the dark.
So, Are Rabbits Nocturnal?
Rabbits are not nocturnal. Most people assume bunnies are nocturnal because they sleep during the day.
However, if you are more attentive, you will notice your bunny is more sleepy in the afternoon and not just at any time of the day.
Interestingly, they sleep in the middle of the night too. But because most humans are asleep at this time, it goes unnoticed, so they assume rabbits only sleep during the day.
If Not Nocturnal, Where Do Rabbits Fit?
Because they sleep in the afternoon and the middle of the night, rabbits are most active during the morning hours and around sunset.
Such animals are classified as crepuscular. Your bunny is not a nocturnal animal but a crepuscular one. Now that you know, let’s understand the meaning of crepuscular in detail.
Meaning of crepuscular
Crepuscular means “active at twilight.” And as you already know, twilight refers to the period between sunset and full night or full night and sunrise.
Going by definition, crepuscular animals are active between full night and sunrise as well as sunset and full night.
Because your bunny is a crepuscular animal, she will sleep in the afternoon and remain active between dusk and full night, then catch some sleep in the middle of the night until sunrise.
Another example of a crepuscular animal is the deer. Other rodent species also fall into this category. Understanding where your pet falls helps you take care of her well. You know when to feed her and can tell if she is sick or just sleepy.
You can notice any changes and track her activities for optimal health.
When are Rabbits Most Active?
Most rabbits are more active at twilight, that is, in the morning hours and between sunset and full night.
So you may notice your bunny digging through things around this time. She will eat more, play when she is most active, and then relax in the afternoon or the middle of the night. If you intend to potty train or bond with your rabbit, I recommend doing so during her active hours.
Respect her natural clock system so she can rest well.
However, not all rabbits are active at dawn and dusk. Some, especially those domesticated, may be more active when their owners are around. This means they may follow human schedules and sleep more at night.
So human activity can affect rabbit behavior. For example, it’s practical for a beginner rabbit owner to feed their rabbit when they are having their meals, which means during lunchtime, breakfast, and supper.
If this is done continuously, your bunny can adapt to the schedule and expect food at these hours. And though it won’t happen instantly, this may affect your bunny’s internal clock, and they will remain active like humans.
If you think about it, constant movement in the house may also interfere with your bunny’s sleeping time. Like humans, they also need a quiet environment to be comfortable enough to sleep.
If there is a lot of movement, loud music, or human interruption, your bunny may prefer sleeping when you go to bed because it’s more convenient and the environment is friendly.
How Many Hours of Sleep Should a Rabbit Get?
Rabbits can get enough sleep without any help. While some sleep a total of six to eight hours in twenty-four hours, some can get up to ten hours of sleep. It depends on comfort and how relaxed your rabbit is.
I should also mention that most rabbits function well with a few hours of sleep and control their sleeping schedule.
Your rabbit will not sleep a whole six or eight hours. She will take naps throughout the day and sleep the most in the afternoon and the middle of the night.
Rabbits may wake up from their naps, feed, or litter, and go back to sleep. They can also be half asleep or take very little time to sleep. This should not raise concern; it is normal rabbit behavior.
The Advantage of Being Crepuscular
While being crepuscular does not do much for pet rabbits, it acts as an anti-predator for wild ones. Wild rabbits developed this habit to hide from nocturnal predators who have difficulty seeing before darkness.
Being crepuscular also protects them from diurnal predators like hawks, who hunt during the day because they have trouble seeing at night. Limiting their activities during sunset and sunrise helps limit confrontations with predators.
The crepuscular nature also helps rabbits live in warmer areas. Such rabbits will hunt for food when there is light and favorable weather, then hide and sleep in their tunnels when the sun is too hot.
The Reality of Domesticated Rabbits
Since most pet rabbits live in their owners’ houses, they don’t face the threat of predators. As a result, some may lose their instincts and start mimicking human schedules.
That’s why it’s no surprise to find some bunnies sleeping more at night and less during the day. And since they don’t have to deal with predators, they get comfortable walking around any time of the day.
So not all rabbits are strictly active at dusk or dawn. They may remain most active at dawn or dusk, but not strictly like wild rabbits who must follow the schedule or risk being preyed upon.
Rabbits are not nocturnal. The furry cuties are strictly crepuscular, which means they are often active at dawn and dusk. They adapt naturally and know when to sleep and when to play.
Their crepuscular nature saves them from predators who are more active during the day and late at night. But because domesticated rabbits rarely deal with predators, some lose this natural behavior with time.
Now that you know your rabbit’s schedule, use it to determine when to feed her and when to let her sleep.