Rabbit facts

Facts and figures about rabbits

Pet rabbit industry statistics (UK)

Pet rabbit industry statistics (UK)

I have gathered the statistics for the pet rabbit industry in the UK from a variety of sources. As I discover new statistics, I’ll keep adding to this page.

How many pet rabbits are there in the UK?

There are currently about 900,000 pet rabbits in the UK.

These figures are from May 2021. Source.

How have pet rabbit numbers changed over time?

YearNumber of pet rabbits
20111,669,000
20121,700,000
20131,000,000 (no reason given for drop in numbers)
20141,300,000 (no reason given for increase in numbers)
20151,200,000
20161,500,000
20171,100,000
20181,000,000
2019900,000
20201,000,000
2021900,000
Change in pet rabbit numbers for the UK

It is unclear why numbers vary so much from year to year. Source.

How many adults own a pet rabbit in the UK?

2% of UK adults own a pet rabbit.

These figures are from May 2021. Source.

Where do people get their pet rabbit from?

According to the Paw Report 2021:

Where owners get their rabbits fromPercentage
Pet shop or garden centre34%
Rescue home or rehoming centre19%
Rehomed from family, friend or neighbour13%
Where do owners get pet rabbits in the UK?

A different methodology from 2014 (England only) gave these results:

Where owners get their rabbits fromPercentage
Pet shop or garden centre39.1%
Rescue home or rehoming centre17.6%
Breeder15.8%
Rehomed from family, friend or neighbour15%
Advert4%
Found as stray2.1%
Where do owners get pet rabbits in England?

How many rabbits live alone?

In May 2021, 48% of rabbits live alone.

This is important because rabbits are sociable animals, who usually require companionship from other rabbits.

This has changed over time. In general, there has been a decrease (which is good). But during lockdown from COVID there was an increase.

YearPercent of rabbits living alone
201167%
2012
201365%
2014
201557%
201652%
201756%
201854%
201949%
202042%
202148%
Change in pet rabbit numbers for the UK

Source.

Why do owners only have one rabbit?

Reason for only having one rabbitPercentage
Previous companion has passed away34%
Don’t want to own more than one27%
Rabbit does not get on with other rabbits14%
Have never thought about getting another rabbit13%
Have not got around to getting a second rabbit9%
Can only afford one rabbit6%
Why do owners only have one pet rabbit?

These figures are from May 2021. Source.

What percentage of rabbits get neutered?

63% of rabbits are neutered in the UK (May 2021). This is an increase from 57% in February 2020.

Neutering improves rabbits’ health, behaviour and life expectancy. Read here on what to expect when your rabbit is neutered (spayed).

How long do pet rabbits live on average?

Pet rabbits in England live on average for 5.6 years, with a range of 1 month to 12 years.

These figures are from 2014. Source. Note – these are England figures, not UK.

How much do pet rabbit owners spend each year?

The total spend of pet rabbit owners in the UK is about £672 million.

The average rabbit owner spends £94 per month (£1,128 per year) over the lifetime of a rabbit.

These figures are for 2018-19. Source.

Do owners keep rabbits outside or inside?

Where do pet rabbits live?Percentage
Outside (or mainly outside)59.5%
Inside (or mainly inside) (house rabbit)27.6%
Shed, garage or outside building12%
Do pet rabbits live outside or inside?

Of the respondents, 19.5% said that the location varied with season.

These figures are for 2014. Source. These are England figures, not UK.

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
Do rabbits yawn?

Do rabbits yawn?

You know what it’s like. You get to the end of a long day, you feel a little tired, you stretch out and yawn. It’s so natural to us that we usually don’t even notice (we even yawn in the womb). But do our bunnies also yawn? Here’s a quick summary, but do read on for more detailed information.

Rabbits do yawn. Just like humans and many other animals, rabbits yawn when they are feeling sleepy. Yawning may help increase blood flow to the brain, and help regulate the temperature of the brain for better physiological performance. This also increases the arousal level of the rabbit when they are tired. Yawning may also reduce anxiety in rabbits.

Reasons why rabbits yawn

Sleepy rabbits yawn

Rabbits get tired, lazy or sleepy just like us humans. And just like us humans, when they are tired they are more likely to yawn. You are most likely to notice your bunny yawning as they settle down to go to sleep, or as they’re waking up. In slightly more scientific terms, rabbits yawn when transitioning between being awake and asleep.

The reason sleepy rabbits yawn may be to maintain or increase their arousal levels. Particularly when waking up, an animal needs to become alert as soon as possible. Yawning may be one of the ways that animals ensure this.

Yawning helps to increase blood flow to the rabbit’s brain

One of the effects of yawning may be to increase blood flow to the brain. The way this works is complex, but involves the stretching in yawning affecting vagus nerves resulting in more flow of highly oxygenated blood to the brain. This in turn helps with arousal levels. In particular, yawning appears to create cortical arousal

Yawning helps rabbits to regulate the temperature of their brain

Yawning also helps rabbits (and other animals) to control or regulate the temperature of their brain. This is known as the thermoregulatory theory of yawning. This is backed up by research showing that yawning is controlled by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which also controls the regulation of temperature.

How this works is also complicated, involving cooling arteries that supply the brain and other effects. But it seems to work.

This has been confirmed by experiments on rats – yawning helped lower their brain temperature by up to 0.5oC.

So when your bunny yawns, they are helping to make sure that their brains are not getting too hot or too cold.

Yawning may reduce anxiety in rabbits

Despite what we may expect, we are more likely to yawn before a stressful event (so don’t be surprised if you find yourself yawning before an important public speech or competition).

Animals also yawn when facing stressful situations. Why would they (and we) do this? Because stress heats up our brains. And yawning helps control that heating effect, keeping our brains from getting too warm.

So your bunny won’t only yawn when they’re waking up or going to sleep, but also when they are feeling stressed out by a situation. Yawning is one way of your rabbit keeping in control.

Yawning isn’t about increasing oxygen levels for rabbits

A popular myth about yawning is that it increases oxygen levels and decreases carbon dioxide levels, as it is a massive intake of breath. However, scientific tests haven’t backed this theory up, at least in humans. They’ve tried increasing carbon dioxide levels, with no increased yawning (their breathing changed in other ways). And subjects who breathed pure oxygen didn’t show a decrease in yawning. Similar results have been found in experiments with rats.

How do rabbits yawn?

A rabbit is about to yawn will usually settle down, putting out their front feet, before lifting their head back to be able to open their mouths as widely as possible and stretch for the yawn.

Here’s a few live action yawns:

Are yawns contagious in rabbits?

Yawns are contagious in quite a few animals, not just humans. We develop the habit of yawning when other people yawn around the age of 5 years old, which suggests it has a social function alongside the physical effects. The animals where scientists have observed contagious yawning (in some cases in response to human yawning) include dogs, sheep, elephants, wolves, chimpanzees and even lions. These are all animals who live in social groups.

In lions, yawning together seemed to help coordinate them as a group and engage in cohesive action (you can check out the study here).

However, no-one appears to have studied rabbits yet.

As rabbits are extremely sociable, it would not be surprising if yawning was contagious in rabbits. But we don’t know for certain yet.

If anyone is an aspiring scientist or vet, and has multiple bunnies, perhaps you could do the research? The world needs to know!

Conclusion

Rabbits yawn, just like us humans. They yawn when they’re going to sleep and when they’re waking up, and also if they are facing a stressful situation. Yawning increases their alertness levels and helps them regulate their temperature.

You may also like:

You can find out more about when and how rabbits sleep here.

Ever wondered whether or not rabbits are nocturnal?

Explore how rabbits hear the world.

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
Are rabbits nocturnal?

Are rabbits nocturnal?

Ever wondered when rabbits are most active? Is it at night? Perhaps you’ve a pet bunny (or two or three…) and want to know more, or maybe you’re just interested in finding out more about wild rabbits. Either way, there’s a simple answer to ‘are rabbits nocturnal’, and a more complicated (but interesting!) answer. Next up is the quick, simple answer.

Are rabbits nocturnal?

Rabbits are mainly crepuscular, being active around the times of dawn and dusk. However, some species of rabbits, such as Dice’s Cottontail, are nocturnal, mainly active at night. Additionally, rabbits are adaptable, and in certain habitats may change their active times to avoid predators and give greatest access to food. This means that pet rabbits may be able to adapt to fit the routine of their owner.

What do nocturnal, diurnal and crepuscular mean?

First, some quick definitions.

Nocturnal – being active mainly during the night

Diurnal – being active mainly during daylight

Crepuscular – being active mainly at dawn and dusk

Rabbits are crepuscular

Rabbits prefer being mainly active during dawn and dusk. Bunnies are more likely to have a nap during the middle of the day or the middle of the night (you can find out more about how and when rabbits sleep here).

This is one of the reasons that many people find rabbits make great pets. If you’re out at work during the day (and asleep at night), your bunnies are most active just when you’re around the home to play with them.

How do we know that rabbits are crepuscular? The research

We know that rabbits are crepuscular in a couple of different ways. First of all, there’s a wealth of experience from owners from all over the world. But secondly, we know from science. Scientists have done surveys of wild rabbits, and noted when they’re active and when they’re not.

One example is a study carried out on wild rabbits in Spain (you can find it here). Within a fixed area, scientists counted how many rabbits were active (that is, not in their burrows but in the open air) at different times of the day (and different times of the year, too).

You may wonder how they counted them, whether it was some high-tech satellite thermal imaging device. No. I don’t think there’s enough money in wild rabbit research for fancy technology.

The researchers basically drove slowly (15 kmh, or about 10 mph) 137 separate times along a 13 km (about 8 mile) route in some scrubland in south-west Spain. As they drove, they counted how many rabbits they could see (presumably not the driver doing the counting). At night, they used a powerful spotlight. The drives were conducted four times a day for three days running each time: once at sunrise; once at midday; once at sunset and once at midnight.

Once they had done this, the researchers considered a whole range of different variables that might affect the numbers: time of day; month in year; wind; moonlight; temperature; and so on.

The research showed, for these rabbits in Spain:

Rabbit activity and time of day – research results

  • The rabbits were most active at dusk.
  • The rabbits were also active at dawn in the summer months, but less so in winter.
  • The rabbits were also quite active at night, particularly in winter.
  • The rabbits were least active at midday, but were a bit more active in the winter than the summer.

Rabbit activity and other factors – research results

  • Rabbits were less active when it was windy.
  • Rabbits were more active after it had been raining in the previous days (in the scrubland environment, this is when plants grow).
  • Rabbits were more active when the moon was out.
  • Rabbits were less active in extreme temperatures (so less active at midday in the summer and dawn in the winter)

So far, so good. And also, this makes sense from thinking about rabbits and their need to survive and thrive. They want to avoid extremes of temperature, just like we do. We don’t like getting too hot or cold, and neither do rabbits (though their version of ‘too cold’ is much colder than ours – check out this article). In particular, rabbits find it difficult to regulate their bodies if it’s too hot, so they avoid the midday sun (though in Britain that’s quite a rare event anyway).

But rabbits need to think about, not just their temperature, but also any predators, including birds of prey.

And rabbits have potentially lots of predators. Some of these predators will be diurnal (around during the daytime) and others will be nocturnal (around during the nighttime). Being active at dawn and dusk is a good trade-off; rabbits have pretty good vision (find out more here), being better able to see in dim light conditions than diurnal predators, but without full night, where nocturnal predators may be able to see better.

But what happens if most of the predators are diurnal, that is, around during the day?

Are rabbits always crepuscular?

Rabbits are not always crepuscular. In some conditions, rabbits are nocturnal after all. They adapt to their circumstances.

A nocturnal rabbit

We know this because of a couple of other scientific studies. One study (find it here) looked at predators and prey in Costa Rica. This study had a bit more technology (they needed it, as they were studying in forests with lots of potential cover rather than fairly open scrubland). The researchers set up cameras in a variety of locations, that were triggered by the animals using an infra-red sensor. In this way, they could see when animals were most active. It was a large study: they found 8 predator species and 16 different prey species.

One of the prey species studied by the researchers was a rabbit – Dice’s Cottontail. This is a smallish (typically about 3lb for an adult), black and brown rabbit native to Costa Rica.

The researchers found that Dice’s Cottontail was nocturnal. Nearly all (96%) of its recorded activity took place at night.

In other words, some species of rabbit are nocturnal. Another example of a nocturnal species (which lives in a similar type of habitat) is the rarest rabbit of all, the Annamite striped rabbit.

Nocturnal rabbits changing to crepuscular

The second study, published in 2021 (find it here), goes back to the rabbits in Spain. In this experiment, researchers moved a group of rabbits from one location to two new one.s The new locations had different predators. Researchers compared the activity patterns (using camera traps) of the three groups.

In their original location, the rabbits were mostly nocturnal, with predators including red foxes and Egyptian mongeese (who are diurnal – mostly around during the day).

In one location (a fenced area where the main predators were mongeese, around during daylight), the rabbits remained nocturnal.

However, in another location (an unfenced area with a variety of predators) the rabbits became mostly active at dawn and dusk (crepuscular).

In other words, the same species of rabbit can be nocturnal in one context, and crepuscular in a different one.

How adaptable are rabbits to different routines?

Although in the wild, rabbits often revert to crepuscular activity, rabbits turn out to be adaptable to a wide range of different daily activity patterns.

Again, scientists have done the work, this time with rabbits in laboratories. The research was carried out in 1991, in this paper: ‘The rabbit: a diurnal or a nocturnal animal?‘.

The researchers tried out four separate conditions:

  • ‘Normal’ conditions – an environment with lots of background noise during the time the lab had lights on.
  • ‘Sound-isloated’ conditions – an environment where there was no background sound.
  • ‘Constant light’ conditions – an environment where a light was constantly on at the same strength.
  • ‘Food-restricted’ conditions – food was only available for four hours each day, during the lit period.

The researchers found:

  • In the normal conditions the rabbits varied when they were active; some individuals were diurnal, others nocturnal, and others had no preference.
  • In the sound-isolated conditions the rabbits became nocturnal.
  • In the constant light conditions the rabbits ended up with a daily pattern a bit longer than 24 hours (this is typical of nocturnal animals).
  • In the food-restricted conditions, most of the rabbits’ activity was when food was available.

In other words, the routine for rabbits can be set by the external conditions, including when it’s light, how noisy it is, and when there’s food around. Rabbits are adaptable to different routines.

Rabbit owners can relax a bit about routines

The research means that owners don’t have to worry too much about what a rabbit routine should be. Although rabbits may be crepuscular, if you’re only around at a different time of day, they will happily adapt to that. This adaptability makes rabbits flexible pets for owners.

Conclusion

Rabbits are usually crepuscular, but sensibly they will adapt their routines and activity to avoid predators and be around when food is plentiful. This means that some species of rabbit are nocturnal, and in some contexts rabbits may become mainly nocturnal. Pet owners of bunnies may find that their rabbits adapt to the routine that their owner gives them.

You may also like:

Find out more about when and how rabbits sleep

Explore how rabbits see the world

Ever wondered how high bunnies can jump?

Your bunny zooms really fast. But how fast? Find out

How cold is too cold for rabbits?

14 amazing facts about rabbit teeth

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
14 Amazing Facts about Rabbit teeth

14 Amazing Facts about Rabbit teeth

Rabbits are great pets. There’s something so cute about the way they hop around, or break out into a zoom around the room or garden. But they’re also extraordinary. Even rabbits’ teeth are amazing. Read on for 14 amazing facts about bunnies’ teeth.

1. Rabbit teeth never stop growing

Your teeth and mine grow when we’re young, and then stop. But rabbits are different. Their teeth just keep on growing through their lives.

In fact, they grow between 3-5 inches (7.5-13cm) every year.

How come you don’t see your rabbit with really long teeth? Rabbit teeth are designed to be worn down by the rough food they eat, like hay and grass. The tough fibres wear away the teeth as they grow, so they are always the same length.

The technical term for this phenomemon where teeth keep growing is elodont.

Rabbit teeth are elodont – they never stop growing

While we’re on technical terms, rabbit teeth are also aradicular – their teeth have open roots – and hypsodont – they have a long crown (the visible part of the tooth) compared to the root (the part of the tooth below the gumline).

In other words, most of the tooth is visible rather than hidden in the gum.

Because rabbit teeth do keep growing, it is vital that they eat food that wears away their teeth – otherwise problems result. See lower down the list for both the problems, and what a healthy diet looks like.

2. Rabbits have 28 teeth

Adult humans have 32 teeth, but rabbits only have 28 teeth. One reason is that we have canine teeth (the sharper, pointy teeth to the side of the front incisor teeth), but bunnies don’t have canine teeth.

Instead, rabbits have three types of teeth:

  • Incisors – these are the sharp teeth at the front of the mouth. Rabbits have 6 incisors in total. Bunnies use these for slicing through grass and other vegetation. Rabbits have 4 upper incisors and 2 incisors on the lower part of their jaws. They have two large, central upper incisors, and then two smaller incisors either side. These smaller ones are also called peg teeth.
  • Premolars – these are near the back of the mouth, and are used for grinding. Rabbits have 10 premolars in total. Rabbits have 6 premolars on their upper jaw (three each side) and 4 on their lower jaw (two each side)
  • Molars – these are also near the back of the mouth, and are used for grinding. Rabbits have 10 molars in total. Rabbits have 6 molars on their upper jaw (three each side) and 6 on their lower jaw (three each side)

The premolars and molars look nearly identical, and together are called cheek teeth.

3. Rabbits have baby teeth, just like us, which they lose as they get older

Baby rabbits have baby teeth, just like children have baby teeth. But while we lose our baby teeth from around the age of 6 years, it’s a lot quicker for bunnies. They lose their baby teeth soon after they are born, and get their adult teeth from around week 5.

Baby rabbits also have fewer teeth than adult rabbits. Baby rabbits have 16 teeth compared with adult rabbits who have 28 teeth. The difference is that baby rabbits do not have any molars. They have 6 incisors and 10 premolars.

The technical term for animals like rabbits and humans who have two sets of teeth is duplicidentata. Now you know!

4. Rabbit teeth grow curved

As the teeth of rabbits grow, they curve. The longer the tooth, the more it will be curved. Incisors curve into the mouth; upper cheek teeth curve outwards (buccally), and lower cheek teeth curve inwards (lingually).

If a tooth becomes too long, it may start to cause problems. The incisors (front teeth) may stick out of the mouth, and catch on things. The cheek teeth (back teeth) won’t be as visible, but if too long can cause a range of serious problems.

The best way to protect rabbit teeth from growing too long is the right diet – see below.

5. Rabbit’s upper incisor teeth have a groove on them

The teeth at the front of rabbits’ mouths are incisors. The two large upper incisor teeth of bunnies have a groove running all the way down them.

6. Rabbits use their incisor teeth for cutting through food

The front teeth of rabbits, called incisors, are sharp. This is so that bunnies can cut through tough food, like twigs or leaves. It also means that they can chop up long grass or hay easily. Once the food has been chopped up by the incisors, it is the turn of the cheek teeth.

7. Rabbits use their cheek teeth for grinding up their food

Once the rabbit’s incisors have chopped and sliced up their food, rabbits use their cheek teeth to grind it up ready for swallowing. Bunnies grind their teeth together in crescent-shaped movements.

Bonus fact – bunnies can only chew on one side of their mouth at a time.

8. Rabbit upper incisor teeth only have enamel on one side – to sharpen them up

Rabbit teeth are made up of four components:

  • dentine
  • cementum
  • pulp
  • enamel

Dentine makes up the bulk of teeth in both rabbits and humans. It is a hard tissue, full of calcium apatite (also called hydroxyapatite). The levels of calcium is why it is also sometimes called a calcified tissue. Dentine is harder than bone, but softer than enamel.

Cementum is another calcified, hard tissue that sticks (cements) the tooth to the bone so it doesn’t fall out.

Pulp is the central part of teeth where you find blood vessels and connective tissue.

Enamel is the hardest substance. It contains even more calcium apatite than dentine, and is nearly all (96%) mineral. Enamel forms a thin surface on teeth, to protect them and make them hard enough to cut and chew food.

In rabbits, their upper incisors only develop enamel on one side (the outside, technically called the labial side, as it is the side closest to the lips).

This means that the front of their upper teeth are harder than the back. The softer back part of the teeth, only having dentine rather than the protective enamel, wears away quicker. The result is that the edge of the teeth become sharper. This means they can slice through food even more effectively.

You get a similar effect with the cheek teeth. Here, enamel surrounds the whole tooth, but the middle is made up of softer cementum and dentine. This wears away quicker, leaving a ridge around the tooth of harder enamel.

Again, this means that the cheek teeth have sharp ridges for grinding up tough, fibrous food like hay.

9. There’s a big gap between rabbit incisors and cheek teeth

We generally don’t have big gaps between our teeth. But rabbits are different. For a start, they have no canine teeth. But also, they separate out their front incisors from their cheek teeth. The incisors are at the front of their mouth, and the cheek teeth are set towards the back of the mouth.

The gap between the front incisors and the rear cheek teeth is called the diastema.

10. Rabbits don’t have many nerves in the visible part of their teeth

Rabbits have far fewer nerves in their teeth than we do. If there’s a small gap in our enamel, eating ice cream can turn from pleasure into agony, because the cold reaches nerves in our teeth.

But bunnies are different. They only have a few nerves (which help to tell them how hard they are pressing, for instance). Given how much tough food they have to eat, and that they continually wear away their teeth, you can see that it makes sense.

11. Rabbits chew lots – up to 120 movements of their jaws each minute

Bunnies love to chew. This can include hay, twigs, leaves, and anything you might leave around. Rabbits are designed to chew lots because they need to break down the hard, fibrous food they rely on. So their jaws can chew both up and down and side to side, to cut up and grind down the cellulose and other fibrous food.

They can also chew fast. Rabbits can chew with up to 120 different jaw movements each minute. That would give me jaw-ache.

12. You don’t need to brush your rabbit’s teeth

Some pets need their teeth brushing regularly, even daily. But not so for rabbits.

Rabbits do not need to have their teeth brushed. You should not brush the teeth of your bunnies. Bunnies will be better off just having the correct diet.

Cats’ teeth and dogs’ teeth are similar to ours, and regular brushing of their teeth helps their dental health. However, because rabbits are lagomorphs, their teeth are very different. As they grow continually, there is not the same requirement for daily brushing. Instead, chewing on hay is what will keep rabbit teeth healthy.

13. Good dental health is vital for rabbits

When rabbits have healthy teeth, everything works well. But when there are rabbit dental problems, they can affect bunnies in all sorts of ways (even their eyes).

Vets grade the health of rabbit teeth, with grade 1 being the best. Here’s a quick summary:

Grade 1

Everything normal 🙂

Grade 2

The teeth are starting to get a bit too long, but there may be no symptoms.

Grade 3

Acquired malocclusion – the teeth end up going the wrong way or are the wrong size, and it starts affecting the rabbit visibly. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • they find it harder to groom themselves. This in turn can lead to other conditions like flystrike.
  • their cheek teeth can develop sharp points, causing cuts inside the mouth. In turn, this can lead to a rabbit losing appetite, producing lots of saliva, and being in pain.
  • the nasolacrymal ducts can get blocked or affected. These are ducts connecting the nose and the eyes. The blockages can cause bacterial infections, leading to eye problems such as dacryocystitis (inflammation of the tear ducts).
  • rabbits may develop abscesses in their cheeks.
  • loose teeth, with tooth infections possible as well.
  • Vegetation can get stuck in the teeth.

Grade 4

The tooth stops growing. In cases like this, the rabbit may need to be given soft food.

Grade 5

Rabbits can end up with infections in their bones or abcesses, leading to more severe symptoms.

There are two main causes of acquired malocclusion in pet rabbits. Both relate to their diet. The two causes are:

  • not having food that’s rough (abrasive) enough.
  • not having food with the right minerals (including the right level of calcium).

Of course, just like humans, sometimes rabbits just bite on something hard and damage a tooth. And sometimes teeth problems are biological in origin. But it’s good to know that, at least for the two main causes, us owners can make sure that our rabbits have the best possible chance for healthy teeth.

If you think that your rabbit might be having any problems with their teeth, check them out with a vet.

14. Rabbits need a healthy diet for healthy teeth

The best, easiest way to make sure that your pet rabbit has healthy teeth is to give them a healthy diet.

For rabbits, a healthy diet means hay and water. The proper hay (preferably timothy hay – find out why here) has nearly all the nutrients that rabbits need. That includes the right amount of calcium for healthy teeth.

But hay also is full of tough, hard to chew fibre. As bunnies cut and grind hay up, it wears away their teeth as fast as they are growing. Eating hay means that the teeth never get too long.

You can feed your bunny other food as well, like an eggcup size portion of rabbit nuggets, a handful of fresh herbs and greens, and a little fruit as a treat.

But if you just feed your rabbit on nuggets, for instance, although they will get all the nutrients they need, their teeth won’t be worn down enough, and could grow too long, creating all sorts of problems.

So, for a healthy bunny, lots of hay and water.

Conclusion

Rabbits are amazing, with bodies designed to make the best possible use of grass and other vegetation. And that means their teeth are amazing, with teeth that constantly grow and sharpen themselves on the food.

Some of the sources used

This resource is aimed at vets, but is full of detailed, technical facts.

This journal article also has some useful facts.

More about rabbits and their amazing bodies…

Find out about how rabbits see the world – it’s not the same as us!

Rabbits have great hearing – see if you can hear sounds as high-pitched as rabbits can

Rabbits are speedy little creatures – find out just how fast

How high can rabbits hop?

Rabbits like the cold weather much more than we do – find out more

Learn how rabbits digest their food

Find out what minerals and vitamins rabbits need for a healthy life

Are rabbits nocturnal? Find out

Find out how many people own rabbits in the UK, and a host of other facts.

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
How high can rabbits jump?

How high can rabbits jump?

There are three possible reasons you’re here.

First, you’re trying to keep wild rabbits out of your garden or yard.

Second, you’re a rabbit owner, worried about your bunnies escaping into the wild (or parts of the garden or house they might chew up).

Or third, you are simply curious about bunnies!

My parents have the first problem – they have rabbits eating up their lovingly planted flowers.

I worry about the second problem – I don’t want my bunnies to escape onto nearby roads and lanes – and I am also, like some of you in the third category, simply curious about bunnies.

So this article is based not only on hours of research to make sure the information is reliable, but also my own practical experience and needs.

How high can rabbits jump?

Rabbits can jump over 3 feet (about 1m) high. The world record for a rabbit jump stands at 39.2 inches (99.5cm), or 3 feet 3.2 inches, but there are anecdotal reports of rabbits jumping as high as four feet. However, fences higher than 3 feet high will deter most bunnies. The famous rabbit-proof fence in Australia was 3 feet high.

The official world record for rabbit jumping

The official world record for the rabbit high jump currently stands at 99.5cm (39.2 inches).

The record for the rabbit high jump was set in June 1997 in Denmark by a black and white bunny called Mimreslunds Tösen, owned by Tyne Bygom (there are more details about the high jump competition in resources provided by someone from the same club, Aase Bjerner – find his website here, with photos of Tösen jumping), in an official competition.

Yes, there are official high jump competitions for rabbits. No, I didn’t know that, either.

The competitive sport is called rabbit hopping (or, in Danish, kaninhop. Kanin is the Danish for rabbit). It began in Sweden around 1980 and spread to Denmark.

There are four competitions – a hurdles sprint; a crooked hurdles (ie, not in a straight line); long jump and high jump.

Here’s the Danish high jump championships from 2014:

Rabbit high jump championships, Denmark, 2014

The idea has now spread to other countries, and England has hosted a bunny Grand National in Harrogate. Rabbit hopping has also spread to Australia, as this report from 2019 shows:

Rabbit hopping reaches Australia

Feedback from rabbit owners on how high their rabbits can jump

I checked out what rabbit owners say about their rabbits. Of course, this is all anecdotal – but it paints a picture.

Most owners had bunnies that could clear 2′ (61cm) with relative ease. For example, one owner had a Mini Rex that could jump onto their bed two feet off the ground. And its commonplace for rabbits to be able to jump onto sofas to join their owners watching TV or relaxing.

Once the height started going above this, the experiences became a little more mixed. There are reports of a range of breeds jumping a little higher. For example, a French Lop clearing a 26″ (66cm) panel, a Lionhead rabbit escaping from a pen with 28″ (71cm) fences, and other bunnies jumping over a 29″ (74cm) barrier.

Some owners found the sweet spot at 30″ (76cm), and claimed never to have had escapes when the fence or barrier was at least this height.

However, other owners clearly had more gymnastic bunnies, with reports of a Netherland Dwarf rabbit clearing up to 39″ (1m) and Himalayans and other breeds clearing 3′ (91cm). The world championships show how this is certainly possible.

There are a few reports of bunnies jumping over even higher fences – including one claim that their rabbit cleared a 4′ (1m22) fence from a standing start – but it is difficult to know how reliable these claims are.

A few owners have experienced bunnies escaping from pens with panels 4′ (1m22) high – but we shouldn’t assume that the rabbits just jumped out. One owner caught the escapee on camera, and found that they were part jumping, then climbing the rest of the way out.

Bunnies can climb better than you might think (we found one of ours part way up a tree), so if you allow them any purchase or surfaces, they can parkour their way to freedom – potentially a problem with wire fences rather than smooth panels.

Overall, the owner experience suggests that a fence 3′ (91cm) will keep most rabbits out, but if you want to guarantee that a bunny doesn’t escape, it’s safer to go higher – up to 4′ (1m22) – and don’t provide any paw-holds for their climbing agility.

My experience of jumping rabbits

Our bunnies love to roam around our garden (with us supervising). But we don’t want them escaping onto nearby roads. Most of our fences or walls around the garden are at least 4′ high or higher, with little purchase for bunnies who like to climb – so we’re mostly OK.

But when we first got bunnies, we had one wall that was a little lower – probably between 2′ and 2’6″. We naively thought that this would be high enough – then had a desperate time trying to catch our rabbits who had got curious and jumped up and over. It was a worrying, and long, 15 minutes (we saw them jump over).

That wall is now much higher… …and our bunnies haven’t escaped since.

When they’re in the garden, we also try to keep our bunnies from coming into our kitchen (which has a door leading out onto the garden). We stick a large piece of wood across the bottom to act as a gate. This is about 32″ (80cm) high. To date, none of the rabbits has managed to break in (though they have often snuck in when we’ve forgotten to put the barrier in place…). But it wouldn’t matter too much if they did succeed.

We have also found that one of our bunnies is a climber. Buzz has surprised us by getting up to a crook in a tree. the others aren’t so interested. Each rabbit is different.

What breeds of rabbit jump highest?

As a general rule of thumb, medium sized breeds seem to jump the highest.

Really small breeds just have smaller legs – they are going to struggle to jump quite as high as a rabbit with bigger hind legs.

But really large breeds have more weight to carry. Again, they don’t tend to be able to jump as high.

Having said that – look at the experience of owners. One owner reported a Netherland Dwarf jumping as high as about 3′ or 1m. So small bunnies can jump surprisingly high.

Rabbit binkies – funny little jumps

Have you ever seen your bunny do a funny leap in the air? Perhaps they also twisted their bodies in mid-air. This is often called a ‘binky’. Usually, it is a sign of a happy rabbit.

Our rabbits will often combine binkies with zooms as they sprint around the garden. I’m always amazed at how high our bunnies can get without warning, just leaping out of nothing from a standing (or sitting) start.

How rabbits can jump so high

Rabbits are able to jump so high because they have, for their size, incredibly powerful muscles in their hind legs. Weight for weight, rabbit muscle fibres are 29% more powerful even than the fastest land animal, the cheetah.

This enables them to jump up to 1m high from almost a standing start, or to hop a long distance – some bunnies can manage up 10′ (3m) in a single bound.

How high can rabbits jump on the moon?

A rabbit could jump up to 6m (about 20 feet) high on the moon (we’re going to pretend it wouldn’t need a spacesuit).

That’s because gravity, the force that pulls us towards planets, is six times less on the moon than it is on earth. So if rabbits can jump about 1m on earth, they can jump six times as high on the moon.

If you were trying to build a safe bunny enclosure on the moon, you’d need a lot of fencing… talking of which…

How to build a rabbit proof fence

I’m not a great DIY person, so I’m not going to pretend to be able to offer detailed, step-by-step instructions. But I can give you some general points either to keep bunnies out, or keep them in.

Height of rabbit proof fences

If you want to keep rabbits out of your garden, make sure your fence is at least 3′ (about 1m) high. Any shorter than that, and you might find enthusiastic bunnies eating your flowers and vegetables.

If you want to keep rabbits in, then consider making it still taller – closer to 4′ (about 1m20). You don’t want to worry about your bunny ever escaping into danger.

In both cases, make sure there is nothing near the fence that could be used as a staging post, or give the rabbit some purchase to be able to climb over the fence.

Depth of rabbit proof fences

Rabbits love to dig, and will happily dig under a fence if given the opportunity. You can prevent this by making sure that the fence extends at least 6″ (about 15cm) into the ground. You should also try to angle it towards the side that the rabbits are meant to remain on.

Type of wire for rabbit proof fences

Use hexagonal twisted galvanised steel wire fencing with a mesh of around 1″ (2.5-3cm) or smaller – any bigger, and small or young rabbits can wriggle through. The wire should be 18 gauge or 1.2mm – any thinner, and rabbits can bite through.

Posts for rabbit proof fences

Wooden posts should be at least 4″ (10cm) diameter. Ideally, they should be placed on the side away from the rabbits.

More information on building rabbit proof fences

The experts in this are the Forestry Commission, who have to create fences to keep out all sorts of wildlife in different areas. They have created a helpful technical specification guide for fences for all sorts of animals, including rabbits. You can download it here.

The Australian rabbit-proof fence

What was at the time the longest fence in the world was built in Australia to keep out rabbits. Here’s a very brief history.

British settlers introduced rabbits to Australia from the 18th century, but problems began when Thomas Austin, an Australian landowner, released some wild rabbits (some accounts say 12; others 24) brought over from England to South Australia, so locals would have something to hunt. He brought over a whole range of animals from England, which he was proud of.

From The Argus, 21st April 1864, p.7

The following letter from Mr. Thomas Austin, of Barwon Park, was also read: “Barwon Park, April 18, 1861, “Dear Sir,-I have to acknowledge your letter and circular of the Acclimatisation Society, and so satisfied am I of its benefit to the colony, that I enclose you a cheque for ten guineas to be a life member. I may add, that I have done a little myself towards introducing game birds. I brought out in the Yorkshire nine hares and thirty-four blackbirds and thrushes, which I am going to turn out here; and my man, this last season, has reared about seventy pheasants: some have bred out in their natural way; and I have seen two coveys of partridges, one of six young ones, the other eight; and the English wild rabbit I have in thousands. Yours sincerely, (Signed) THOMAS AUSTIN.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/5747882

The rabbits bred like… rabbits. And before too many years, the bunnies had become a pest. The population overgrazed the land, causing environmental damage. There was little food left either for native species or livestock. The solution? Put up a fence. A long fence. A really, really, long fence.

The rabbit-proof fence was actually three separate fences, completed in 1907 after six years construction work. All three make up more than 2,000 miles (over 3,000km) of fence, and the longest (No. 1 fence, going North-South) was 1,139 miles (over 1,800km) long – the longest unbroken fence in the world at the time.

The fence was 3′ high originally, with posts 12′ apart, and netting extending 6″ into the ground to prevent rabbits tunnelling under. These are still good guidelines for keeping rabbits out of gardens.

Keeping the fence intact wasn’t easy – trappers would cut holes, then lay traps on the other side of the fence, so that as soon as the rabbits ran through they would be caught. The government had to introduce fines to deter this (see The Argus, 25th August, 1910, p.9).

More recently, the fence became famous through the film of the same name. Rabbit-Proof Fence tells the true story from 1931 of three girls who escape to try to return to their aboriginal families, using the fence as a guide to their home as they make the 1,500 mile journey pursued by the authorities.

The film was based on a 1996 book by Doris Pilkington, whose mother was one of the three girls. The book was called Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence.

Conclusion

Some rabbits can jump up to about 3′ (1m) high, and perhaps some even higher. Medium and small breeds can jump higher than larger, heavier breeds. Some owners stage rabbit jumping competitions, a practice that started in Sweden and has spread world-wide. If you are trying to keep rabbits away from an area, you’ll need a fence at least 3′ (1m) high.

How high can your bunny jump?

You may also be interested in some other facts about bunnies, such as how fast they can sprint, how rabbits hear, and how they see.

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
How fast can rabbits run?

How fast can rabbits run?

If you’re like me, the first time your rabbit sprinted around the house or garden, you were amazed at how fast they zoomed around, from a standing start, turning corners sharply, before coming to an abrupt halt. It seems like they go from 0 to a million miles per hour in a nanosecond. So I investigated how fast rabbits do run, and how they get so fast. And then, I measured how fast one of my rabbits can run.

How fast can rabbits run?

A rabbit can run at speeds of up to 35 mph (56 km/h). Some breeds of wild hare can run even faster – the jackrabbit can reach speeds of 45 mph (72 km/h). Domestic bunnies can run faster than humans – a human’s top speed (Usain Bolt while breaking the world 100m sprint record) is 27.78 mph (44.72 km/h). Rabbits (unlike hares) can’t sustain their speeds for very long – they are sprinters, looking for a quick getaway to a nearby burrow or shelter from a predator. 

But how fast is your bunny likely to be? How do they run? And how do they get to be so speedy? Keep reading to find out more.

How fast do domestic rabbits run?

Wild rabbits may run faster than pets – their survival depends on it. But how fast can your pet rabbit go?

I saw a few figures bandied around the internet, but I couldn’t track down any reliable source for most of them (many just seem to copy the same initial information). 

Can a pet rabbit really run as fast as 30mph? 

I decided to find out by measuring one of my bunnies.

How I measured the speed

To measure speed, you need to measure how long it takes a rabbit to cover a known distance. But how do you go about this?

You could try to use a stopwatch, but if your rabbits are like mine, they don’t run to order, and it’s difficult to start and stop at the right time.

Fortunately, many modern mobile phones can help out through videoing your bunny in slow motion. Here’s what I did.

  1. I took a video of one of our rabbits (Yoshi) zooming around the garden (Yoshi likes doing this for fun).
  2. I then measured the distance between two spots that Yoshi had sprinted past. I did this after I had taken the video – it means you don’t have to hope that your bunny runs past specific areas or markers.
  3. I checked out the video. On my phone, the video takes 30 frames every second. Yours may be different, so check your phone’s settings.
  4. I calculated how many frames it took for my rabbit to travel between the two spots I had measured. This gives me the time Yoshi had taken to cover this distance (you could also check this in a video program like iMovie).
  5. Speed is distance divided by time. So I divided the distance between the spots by the time Yoshi had taken to travel that distance.

My results

Results
Distance1.6 metres
Time0.2 seconds
Speed (Distance/time)8 metres per second
or…29 km/h
or…18 mph

This was a young bunny just playing in the garden, not going flat out. So your own rabbit, scampering around, is probably also doing about 20mph.

Do rabbits run, or hop?

Rabbits hop, rather than run. 

When sprinting, both back feet push off the ground together, lifting the rabbit forward, and then the front paws are used in turn (not together) for extra momentum. 

You can see this in action by watching this slow-motion of Yoshi running forward.

This is actually similar to how some other fast animals run, like the cheetah, who use their hind legs nearly simultaneously.

The hop is so powerful that bunnies can cover up to 10 feet (about 3m) in a single hop.

How do rabbits run so fast?

Rabbits can reach these speeds despite their small size because of their powerful hind legs. Rabbit also have muscles that have evolved to enable them to sprint fast. 

Rabbit muscle fibre

Muscle fibre can come in two types – fast twitch and slow twitch.

  • Slow-twitch muscle fibre is good for endurance and tasks needing stamina. (These types of muscle fibres would help a marathon runner – up to 80% of their muscle is slow-twitch).
  • Fast-twitch muscle fibre is good for speed and acceleration. (These types of muscle fibres would help a sprinter – up to 80% of their muscle is fast-twitch).

But there are two types of fast-twitch muscle – red ones which use oxygen (fast-twitch oxidative) and white ones which don’t (fast-twitch glycolytic). The fastest type of all are the fast-twitch glycolytic. [Source].

Rabbits (unlike hares) have a high proportion of fast-twitch glycolytic muscle fibre (up to 50% of fibres are fast-twitch glycolytic – source).

Hares are the opposite – they are built for greater endurance, with up to 55% more fast-twitch oxidative fibres.

This means bunnies can reach their top speeds quickly because their leg muscles can generate tremendous force near instantaneously, but they can’t run very far.

Rabbits have more powerful muscle fibre than cheetahs

Incredibly, rabbit muscle fibres are even more powerful than those of the fastest land animal, the cheetah. Researchers isolated fast-twitch muscle fibres from a cheetah, and compared experimental results with those of muscle fibres from rabbits.

The cheetah’s muscle fibres could generate 92.5 W/kg (a measure of how much force the fibres could produce.

Rabbit muscle fibres could generate 119.7 W/kg – over 29% more powerful.

So your bunny has (relatively speaking) more powerful muscles than a cheetah! [Source]

How rabbits use their speed

In the wild, the fast turn of speed enables them to reach a burrow or other place of safety quickly if they sense a predator nearby.

How fast are rabbits compared to other animals?

Rabbits are one of the faster land animals, about matching the speed of greyhounds, and horses, but some other animals are faster. Cheetahs can reach speeds of around 70mph. 

But if you really want speed, go for the peregrine falcon, which can reach a velocity of over 200mph when diving (stooping) [source].

Domestic rabbits have similar turns of speed as cats, dogs and foxes.

Why do rabbits seem so fast?

Rabbits seem to zoom around so fast for a few reasons. Here are some of them:

  1. They are fast – 30mph is faster than any human could manage
  2. Compared to their size, their speed is even more impressive.
  3. Rabbits not only run fast, but can accelerate quickly. 

Humans take a while to reach our top speeds. When Usain Bolt broke the world record in 2009, he took 60m to reach his top speed. Rabbits can get there in a couple of yards or metres. 

And rabbits can not only accelerate quickly, but also turn on a dime. You may have seen this yourself – bunnies can corner and change direction really speedily.

This quick turn of speed and ability to zigzag also helps them to evade being caught by any predators.

Have a look at how quickly rabbits accelerate, turn and jump in this video:

Conclusion –  how fast do rabbits run?

Rabbits are fast runners. Your pet bunny may be able to hop at up to 35mph, and reach that speed within a few yards. 

Rabbits are not only speedy runners, but great hoppers. Find out how high bunnies can jump (and how to stop them escaping).

Rabbits don’t only rely on their speed to evade predators, their eyesight and hearing are also specially adapted. Find out more about how rabbits see the world and hear the world.

Rabbits enjoy being stimulated, and get bored easily. See what toys our bunnies enjoy playing with.

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
How rabbits hear the world: in-depth guide

How rabbits hear the world: in-depth guide

Everyone knows that rabbits have distinctive ears (what shape are your bunny’s ears?) – but how well do bunnies hear? You can find out below detailed answers to your questions, based on scientific research. But here’s a quick summary of how rabbits hear:

Do rabbits have good hearing?

Rabbits have good hearing for high pitched sounds, but humans are better with deep, low sounds. Rabbits can hear in a range from 96Hz to 49,000Hz (humans can hear lower-pitched noises, but rabbits can hear much higher-pitched noises). They hear noises best whose pitch is between 1,000-16,000Hz. But rabbits don’t only use their ears for hearing – they also use them to communicate, to help them stay the right temperature, and to keep their balance.

This post covers:

The range of frequencies that a rabbit can hear – from low to high notes

Rabbits can hear a different range of frequencies from us humans (though with much overlap).

The frequency of a sound is its pitch – low frequency sounds are low-pitched noises like the bass on a guitar, or the lowest note on a piano, or the rumbling of thunder. High frequency sounds are high-pitched noises like a whistle, or the top note of a piano, or a mosquito buzzing around.

Rabbits can hear very high pitched sounds better than humans (they can hear sounds that are beyond our ability to detect).

But humans can hear very low notes better than rabbits.

Rabbit hearing range
Rabbit hearing range compared to humans

The range that rabbits can hear is 96Hz to 49,000Hz [source].

Humans can hear from 12Hz to 20,000Hz.

How well can rabbits detect low pitched sounds?

The pitch of a sound (whether it sounds high or low) depends on its frequency (measured in Hertz or Hz) – how fast it is making the air vibrate as the sound travels. Low sounds have low frequency – high sounds have high frequency.

Rabbits can hear sounds as low as 96 Hz. [Source]

You can check here what this sounds like:

This is about the lowest sound your bunny can hear

This is better than most other mammals, but it isn’t exceptional. For example, it’s about the same as cats. 

But humans can detect even lower sounds – in laboratory conditions down to 12 Hz. [Source]

This may be partly to do with us having bigger heads! As the frequency of a sound wave gets lower, the wavelength gets longer. 

It becomes an advantage to be able to have more distance between your ears as the pitch gets lower and the wavelength gets longer. 

Humans have more distance between their ears than rabbits, so find it easier to hear low pitched noises.

This is part of a pattern in mammals – the smaller the mammal, in general the worse their hearing at low frequencies.

How well can rabbits hear high-pitched sounds?

Rabbits can hear sounds as high as 49,000 Hz.

This is much better than us. Most humans struggle to hear anything above about 20,000 Hz. 

You can check out how high a frequency you can detect here (and compare yourself to your bunny!)

See how high a sound you can here – your bunny can go beyond 40,000Hz!

So our bunnies can hear high-pitched noises that we can’t detect.

What is the best range of sound for rabbits to hear?

Although rabbits can hear noises as low as 96hz, and as high as 49,000Hz, they hear best between the range of 1,000 to 16,000Hz. These are the frequency ranges that they are most sensitive to.

How do their ears help rabbits hear?

Rabbits have large ears – this helps them to hear better. The ears funnel sound waves into their ear canals, and into the middle and inner parts of the ear, which transform these vibrations into signals to the rabbit’s brain.

This is just like humans – except our ears are shaped differently. 

You can get some idea of the advantage of a bigger ear by standing some distance from a friend and asking them to whisper. It’s easier to hear them if you cup your hand behind your ear. This mimics having a larger ear.

It’s a bit like if you imagine trying to collect rainwater – you’ll collect more with a wide bucket than a narrow bottle. In the same way, larger ears can collect more sound waves.

What is the structure of a rabbit’s ear?

Rabbits have three main parts to their ears – the outer ear (the bit we can see); a middle ear (inside their head) and an inner ear (also inside their head). This is similar to humans.

Diagram of ear structure
Ear structure in mammals
Sunshineconnelly at en.wikibooks / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Outer ear

The outer ear is called the pinna, and it directs the sound into the ear canal. This starts off vertical, and becomes more horizontal as it gets closer to the skull.

The ear canal leads to the ear drum (also called the tympanum or tympanic membrane).

Sound waves make the ear drum vibrate.

Middle ear

Three small bones are attached to the ear drum. These small bones (also called ossicles) are called the malleusincus and stapes, which is the Latin for the hammeranvil and stirrup (because the bones look a little like these). 

The vibrations in the ear drum are passed from one to another – from the malleus to the incus to the stapes.

The middle ear is filled with air. If a sound wave hit a fluid directly, much of the energy might be dissipated. Having these three small bones in an air cavity means that the energy of the sound isn’t lost as it’s transferred.

You want to be able to keep the air pressure the same on both sides of the ear drum. Rabbits and humans both have a tube that connects to the throat – the eustachian tube. It allows air to come or go to the middle ear cavity to keep the pressure the same. 

This is why going up to a high altitude quickly (or down) can hurt our ears – the air pressure on either side of the ear drum is different, stretching the ear drum. Swallowing can help as it enables air to flow in the tube to the middle ear, bringing everything back into equilibrium.

Inner ear

The stapes or stirrup bone connects to the cochlea, a fluid filled spiral tube. The cochlea has a membrane running along it (the basilar membrane) that gradually changes in its stiffness and thickness as you travel along it. This means that each part of the basilar membrane reacts to a different frequency (just like different lengths of string will vibrate at different pitches).

The vibrations enter the cochlea and travel along it. Certain parts of the basilar membrane will vibrate if they match the frequency of the vibrations (low frequencies near the middle or apex of the spiral, higher frequencies towards the outside of the spiral). 

Little hairs (called cilia) on the basilar membrane move and trigger nerve cells, sending electrical signals along the auditory nerve to the brain.

The whole process is the same as in humans (and most mammals).

Rabbits can move their ears independently

Rabbits can move their ears, unlike humans (though some of us can waggle ours a tiny bit). But not only can they move their ears, bunnies can also move each one independently of the other. 

This helps them to hear better (just like if you turn towards a noise you can hear it better). 

So if the rabbit either hears a noise, or sees something (you can read more about how rabbits see, including how they can see all around them, in our post here), they can move an ear so it can pick up what’s going on better.

In the wild, this helps them to hear any predators who may be trying to sneak up on them.

What else do bunnies use their ears for, besides hearing?

Rabbits don’t only use their ears to hear the world better. They also use them for three other purposes: to communicate, to control their temperature, and as part of their sense of balance.

Rabbits communicate with their ears

Lid up on hutch
A curious bunny…

Bunnies also use their ears to communicate – and if your rabbit isn’t a lop, you’ve probably seen this yourself. Even with lops, you can still see similar movements of the ears near the head.

If a rabbit is frightened, the ears go back, almost flat along their back. Their body will also tense up.

However, the ears can also go back if your bunny is relaxed.

If a rabbit is curious or interested, the ears prick up and forward.

Rabbits control their temperature with their ears

Rabbits don’t sweat. Their only sweat glands are in their mouth, and bunnies mainly breathe through their noses, so the sweat glands aren’t much help.

Unlike dogs, rabbits don’t pant much either (though they will in hotter weather, along with licking their face and forelimbs to try to keep cooler).

With their thick, warm fur coat (see our article on whether rabbits feel the cold at night), rabbits need a way of cooling down (getting too hot, also called hyperthermia, is dangerous for rabbits).

Rabbits use their ears for this. The ears provide a large surface area that also isn’t too furry.

The ears have a large blood supply going to them.

In hot weather, more blood is pumped around the ears, where it can be cooled down in contact with the air around them. In cooler weather, less blood is sent to the ears.

So the ears provide a main way that rabbits can lose heat and maintain the right temperature in hot conditions.

In fact, rabbits can lose up to 50% of their heat just through their ears [source]!

Rabbits aren’t the only mammals that use large ears for air conditioning – this is also why elephants have such large ears.

Rabbits’ sense of balance is linked to their ears

How rabbits balance is also part of their ears – but not the part you can see. Of the three parts (outer, middle and inner), the inner ear controls balance.

Alongside the cochlear, the spiral tube that converts vibrations to electrical signals for the brain, lie three semi-circular canals at right angles to each other – these are part of what is sometimes called the vestibular organ. 

These canals help detect rotational movements. As your bunny moves their head, fluid in the canals swoshes around. This move hairs in the canals, which then send electrical signals via nerve cells to the brain.

Rabbits (like humans) also have otoliths. These help them detect how fast or slow they are going. Little bits of calcium carbonate move in fluid in the vestibule. As they move, they trigger more hair cells, which then trigger signals through nerves to the brain.

The entire inner ear structure – cochlea, vestibule and semi-circular canals – are sometimes called the labyrinth.

Head tilt

If the inner ear of a rabbit gets infected, then it can affect their balance. The signals being sent from the semi-circular canals or otoliths are being scrambled.

The result can be that a rabbit keeps trying to tilt their head to one side.

Inner ear infection is only one possible cause of head tilt.

If your rabbit shows signs of head tilt, take them straight to a vet.

Conclusion

Rabbits are famous for their ears – and rightly so. 

  • Their ears help them to hear, including high pitched noises beyond human hearing. 
  • Their ears help them to communicate.
  • Their ears help them to control how hot or cold they’re getting.
  • And their ears help them to balance.

So next time you stroke your bunny, take a moment to appreciate how much they use their ears.

You can find out how rabbits see the world from our article here. (We also have an article on bunny eye care.)

We also have an article on how and when rabbits sleep.

Rabbits are amazing. Discover some fantastic facts about their teeth.

And there’s more! Ever wondered how fast your bunny can run, or how high they can hop?

And if you want some suggestions for some toys to keep your bunny happy and busy, take a look at our top ten.

References

Heffner, H., & Masterton, B. (1980). Hearing in Glires: Domestic rabbit, cotton rat, feral house mouse, and kangaroo rat. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 68(6), 1584-1599. doi:10.1121/1.385213

Kluger, M., Gonzalez, R., & Stolwijk, J. (1973). Temperature regulation in the exercising rabbit. American Journal of Physiology-Legacy Content, 224(1), 130-135. doi:10.1152/ajplegacy.1973.224.1.130

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
Do rabbits get cold at night? How cold is too cold?

Do rabbits get cold at night? How cold is too cold?

By Craig, bunny lover and HVAC expert at Appliance Analysts.

While we’re sitting cosy and warm at home, it’s easy to worry about how our bunnies are faring out in the cold.

But how cold is too cold for a rabbit?

Rabbits are cold weather animals. They’re highly temperature resistant, and can handle temperatures down to almost 30oF (-2oC). With a well-insulated hutch, they’ll be fine even in near-freezing conditions. You can always check by measuring their temperature – which should be between 101-103oF (38-39.5oC). If it’s under 100oF (37.8oC), it’s time to warm them up. And if that doesn’t help, get in touch with your vet.

Do rabbits feel the cold?

Even if it’s freezing outside – your teeth are chattering, you can’t get enough layers on, and you’d give anything from a hot cup of tea – your bunnies are probably A-OK.

Rabbits are made to survive the winter. They’re found all over the coldest parts of the world – from Antarctica to Russia. Their winter coats make them much tougher than they are cute. (Which is pretty darn tough).

That said, there is a chance that one of your rabbits gets too cold. Either from illness, or from extreme temperatures. 

A quick way to check if your rabbit’s feeling the cold is to feel their ears. Overly hot or cold ears are a tell-tale sign of a bunny’s fever. If in doubt, give your vet a shout. (Same goes for their other extremities, like their paws.)

What if it gets too cold? How can I help?

Even the hardiest rabbit won’t enjoy sub-freezing temperatures. And they’ll get pretty frustrated at their water bottle becoming frozen!

Consider moving (The rabbits!)

Your best bet is to simply move them into a shed or garage. Moving them straight into the home isn’t a good idea. It’s likely too warm, and the sudden temperature change may shock them

Have you ever been in a major city’s underground system during winter? Above ground you have about 5 layers on – hats, scarves, gloves, everything. Then you go onto the metro or underground, and you’re suddenly overheating, feeling dizzy, and can’t focus. That’s what it’s like for a rabbit when they suddenly get brought indoors. Except they can’t take their jacket off!

Your goal isn’t to make them as warm as you would need to be. Instead, it’s just to keep them above freezing. I know – it can feel harsh and even cruel. But it’s their natural environment, and they’re used to it. 

A touch of refurbishment

Being small wooden structures, rabbit homes can easily deteriorate over the years. One of the most important things in winter is to make sure there’s no water getting into the hutch itself. Reapplying coating, or even sealing off gaps can go a long way.

Make sure they’re also elevated above the ground to avoid the base becoming damp from the ground. This can be as simple as placing bricks underneath the edges.

A note on wind and dampness

A bigger culprit than the cold will be wet and dampness. Rabbits can handle cold – but being overexposed to wet conditions with strong winds can make them uncomfortable. Their hutch should always be dry and comfortable – just like their natural burrows would be. Soaking in icy damp bedding and wood isn’t comfortable for anyone!

Wrap them up!

A go-to should always be a combination of an old blanket (or even carpet) underneath a waterproof material (like a tarpaulin). This will help keep your buns safe, dry, and warm at very little cost or effort. Some hutch manufacturers sell custom-made covers for their hutches.

Do make sure they can still get plenty of sunlight during the day. I know, the days are short and dark, but every little helps!

Making sure that they’ve got plenty of thick bedding can also go a long way. Adding an extra layer of newspaper beneath their standard bedding can go a long way.

Share the love

One way that rabbits naturally deal with the cold is to face it together. Such internally warm animals know to cuddle up against each other, and produce a ton of heat this way. Having multiple rabbits, and making sure they’re happy to snuggle with each other, is an easy way to check they’re dealing with the cold well.

Consider a heated pad

Heated pads are becoming incredibly popular in the bunny-keeping world. These are simple, small pads that provide a gentle heat for a bunny to enjoy.

They can make a real difference, and the best part is that your rabbit can decide whether they need that heat or not.

(Jonathan writes: we use the Snugglesafe heat pad, which goes in the microwave for a few minutes then stays warm for around 10 hours. You can have a look at it on Amazon US here, Amazon UK here).

One of the most difficult parts of looking after animals can be figuring out what they need, and what they’re thinking (other than about food). Giving them the option to heat themselves is a great way to get over this.

What about getting too hot?

This is where the issue becomes a little serious. Rabbits can tolerate plenty of cold, but they’re not made for the heat.

Their bodies are like wearing the biggest coat you’ve ever tried on – all the time. Maybe even two of them.

Temperatures much higher than 75oF (24oC) can start to cause them problems. Now while you wouldn’t be buying them their own portable air conditioner, there are a few you things you can do to help. Including:

  • Make sure they have plenty of shade
  • Put down hard flooring like slate, marble, or tile
  • Buy a second water bottle and freeze it overnight. Alternate between the two.
  • Clean their hutch more often to avoid their droppings getting… funky.

Conclusion

Animals are different from us, but that doesn’t mean we don’t worry about their wellbeing.

It’s hard to imagine spending endless dark nights in cold weather, but that’s what rabbits are used to. So although it feels harsh, it’s important to let animals be animals. Keep that warm cosy bed to yourself!

I hope this article has helped answer whether or not your outdoor conditions might be too cold for your bunnies.

If we’ve helped you out today, please consider checking out some more of our bunny related posts!

If you want to find out more about the Snugglesafe heatpad, check out our review (we own two of these).

You can read about the outdoor hutch (with winter cover and run) we use here, and if you’re looking to keep your bunnies from being bored then check out the toys that our rabbits have loved playing with.

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
How rabbits see the world: in-depth guide

How rabbits see the world: in-depth guide

Have you ever wondered why your pet rabbit can spot a movement to its side hundreds of feet away, but can’t find the treat you placed right in front of her? Or thought whether or not rabbits see colour the way we do? 

I was curious. Fish and Chips, our pet bunnies, sometimes seem to see us from far away, and yet other times seem to have quite poor sight. So I decided to dig around a little, checked out some scientific articles, and discovered more about how rabbits see. This is what I learned along the way. Here’s a quick summary, with more detail below.

How rabbits see

Rabbits can see all around them at once. Most of their vision is long-sighted (seeing better at far distances), except in front where they become short-sighted. They also have a blind spot directly in front of their nose. Most of their vision is monocular (only using one eye) but rabbits do have binocular vision straight ahead. They recognise patterns and objects best to the front of them. They see colour, but are red-green colour blind. Rabbits’ vision isn’t as sharp as human vision, but they can see better in poor light. Their vision is adapted to see predators quickly from any angle, and to be out feeding at dawn and dusk.

How wide can rabbits see – what is their field of vision?

Rabbits can see just about all around them – they have pretty close to 360o vision.

They achieve this by having their eyes on the sides of their head.

Humans are different. Our eyes are close together at the front of our heads. This helps us hunt for stuff, and we have sharp eyesight. Our priority historically has been hunting – either fruit, or animals. 

We’re similar in this to other predators, like cats and dogs and owls. 

But rabbits aren’t predators – they’re prey. 

The rabbit’s main concern is making sure that nothing is about to eat them. The rabbit needs to see an attacker coming from any direction, so having eyes on the side enable them to see a wraparound view of the world, and keep them safer.

There is a downside to this. First of all, it means rabbits have a blind spot right in front of their noses, where they have no vision.

This is why you can place a treat directly in front of your bunny, and she’ll not respond. She’s not being picky (this time…) – she just hasn’t seen it yet.

Secondly, while rabbits can see all around them, they don’t have binocular vision for most of this. 

Binocular vision is how we see the world – our brain can integrate the information from our two eyes and create a 3-D picture of what’s in front of us. Rabbits only have a small part of their sight where they can do this – mostly they rely on one eye. To get a little idea of what the world looks like for a rabbit, just close one of your eyes.

Do rabbits see equally well all around?

If rabbits can see all around them, is their vision equal throughout? The answer is no, in a number of different ways. 

Rabbits look ahead to see patterns and recognise shapes

First, rabbits see patterns better using the parts of the eye facing frontwards – an angle of about 60o either way (have a look at the diagram). So if a rabbit wants to make sense of what he is looking at, he’ll look towards something. The rear part of their vision is mainly there to warn of any movement – this could be a predator creeping up on them.

We know this from experiments done by de Graauw & van Hof (1980), who covered up different parts of rabbits’ eyes & saw whether or not they could recognise patterns (tested by rewarding the rabbits with food if they could). If the rabbits had to rely on the rear 120o of vision, they did no better than chance. Abstract here.

Rabbits are both long-sighted and short-sighted

Rabbits are generally long-sighted (hyperopic is the technical term). This means that they can see objects more clearly if they are further away, and less clearly if they are too near. 

This makes sense – the bunny’s main concern is looking out for attacks coming from the distance.

This is true both round the rabbit’s vision horizontally and vertically. 

However, when you get to the front of the rabbit, things change. As you move to in front of the rabbit’s face, the rabbit’s vision becomes short-sighted (myopic). 

Right in front of the rabbit (but beyond their blind spot) their vision is about -5 dioptres – I’m pretty short-sighted myself (I need glasses all the time) and this is about the same as me.

This means that rabbits can see close up the things in front of them (like food or toys). 

To sum up – most of their vision is adapted to be sensitive to possible threats in the distance, but part of their vision is perfect for checking out stuff close by.

The research papers that discovered these aspects of your bunny’s vision are de Graauw & van Hof (1978 & 1980). You can get the abstracts here and here.

Diagram showing how rabbits see in different areas around them.

Do rabbits use binocular vision?

As explained above, most of the rabbit’s field of view is coming from one of their eyes. They don’t overlap much except a little at the front. 

This got researchers wondering whether rabbits bother at all using binocular vision (where the brain integrates the signals from both eyes together).

What they have found is that, most of the rabbit’s vision is monocular, and the rabbit is fine with that. It is quite capable of processing both eyes independently.

However, they can also use both eyes together in the narrow overlap in front of them. So if your rabbit is looking straight ahead, it might be seeing the world in 3D similar to us.

The research discovering this was done using different coloured filters over each eye and requiring both eyes to work together for patterns to be visible. The work was done by van Hof & Russell (1977) – you can find the abstract here.

Do rabbits have good eye sight?

Rabbits don’t have as sharp eyesight as humans. We can distinguish lines that are 1/60th of a degree apart (lines closer than this blur together for us).

Rabbits don’t do as well – they can only distinguish lines about 1/3-1/6 of a degree apart.

This is slightly worse than cats (1/12th of a degree) but better than rats (about 1 degree). 

Check out van Hof (1967) for more information – abstract here

What does this look like? If you’re about 50cm or 18” away from this screen, then you can probably tell lines that are 0.15mm or 0.005” apart. In contrast, your rabbit will struggle with lines 1.5mm (0.05”) apart.

So rabbits don’t have as sharp eyesight as humans – but their eyesight is ideal for their purposes. The next section explains a bit more why.

Can rabbits see colour? Are rabbits colour blind?

Rabbits can see colour, but by human standards they are slightly colour-blind. Bunnies can see colour a little like some humans who have a particular type of red-green colour-blindness.

Eyes have two different types of cells that react to light (photoreceptors) and pass on signals to the brain. These are called rods and cones.

Types of photoreceptors

Rods are sensitive to blue-green light (peak wavelength 498 nm). These are used in poor light conditions. It is the rods in your eyes that are working when your eyes are trying to adjust to the dark.

Cones are more sensitive, and give us our colour vision. They come in three varieties in humans:

  • Red (or L-cones, most sensitive to red light at 564nm); 
  • Green (or M-cones, most sensitive to green light at 533nm);
  • Blue (or S-cones, most sensitive to blue light at 437nm).

(The L, M and S stand for Long wave, medium wave, and short wave, and refer to the wavelength of the light – you can find out more here).

Rods and cones in rabbits – types

Rabbits also have cone photoreceptors – but only the green and blue cones (at slightly different peaks – 520nm and 425nm).

Ishihara plate 23
Bunnies would only be able to make out the number 2. Most humans see the number 42. Some people who are colour-blind only see the number 4, or the number 2. Ishihara plate 23, sourced from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ishihara_23.PNG

This means that, compared to most humans, they are slightly colour-blind (protanopic or dichromatic). Some humans (about 1% of males) also have only functional green and blue cones – this is a form of red-green colour-blindness.

So rabbits do see colours, but will find it hard telling reds and greens apart, and also blues and greens.

But there’s another difference between rabbits and humans.

Rods and cones in rabbits – where they are in the eye

The distribution of rods and cones is different between bunnies and us.

In humans, most of our retina (the back of the eye) is made up of rods. But there’s a small central indented area (the fovea centralis – more here) that is packed with cones (180,000 per mm2). This means that when we look at something directly, it is our cones that are picking up the visual information. 

This is also why, when it’s dark, you see better to the side of whatever you’re looking at directly. Your peripheral vision is using rods, which work well in dim light (but don’t give much colour information), while your central vision is using cones which need brighter light. 

But rabbits don’t have their cones concentrated in the centre, but in a horizontal streak across the retina (this is called the visual streak). Most of these are green cones (up to 13,000 per mm2) with some blue cones (up to 2,500 per mm2).

In the lowest part of the retina, there is a blue streak – a crescent shape that has no green cones, but only blue cones (up to 11,000 per mm2).

How do the cones help rabbits?

What does this mean in practice? Having a wide horizontal band of cones enables rabbits to see more clearly all around them. Rather than having to look directly at something to see sharply (as humans do), rabbits have sharper vision all around them.

This is another way that rabbits’ vision is adapted to help them survive. They are able to spot and identify attackers more easily because they have this wide band of cones.

But what is the blue streak about? This is located at the bottom of the retina, which means that it is the light from above that reaches it. Researchers have suggested that this gives great sensitivity to spotting any attacks coming out of the predominantly blue sky.

In other words, the blue streak helps the rabbit to monitor the sky for threats, and the visual streak (mostly green cones) helps the rabbit to keep watch on the ground and horizon.

So rabbits do have good vision – good for spotting predators.

You can read more about the visual streak and blue streak in the research by Juliusson et al (1994). You can see the abstract here.

Can rabbits see in the dark?

Rabbits can see in the dark better than humans, but not in pitch black. Bunnies have eyes that are adapted to work best at dusk and dawn, but rabbits are not nocturnal animals. Some nocturnal animals (including cats) have a mirror-like backing to the retina that helps the eye detect every ray of light (this is called the tapetum lucidum). Rabbits don’t have this (neither do humans). Rabbits can see about twice as well as humans in poor light.

Rabbits have both rod and cone photoreceptors. The rod photoreceptors help them to see in poor light conditions. A rod photoreceptor can detect a single photon of light. 

Rabbits have far more rods than cones (up to 300,000 per mm2 – see Famiglietti & Sharpe (1995) – abstract here).

The peak concentration of rods is about twice that of humans – so rabbits can see better in the dark than humans. However, they are not fully adapted to see at night.

Rabbits have adapted to see best at dawn and dusk (rabbits are crepuscular – see our article on when rabbits are awake and asleep). In these conditions, their combination of lots of rods and blue and green cones enable them to spot any potential threats, whether from land or sky.

The rods make sure that they are sensitive in poor light conditions. The blue and green cones make sure that they have colour contrast ideal for dawn and dusk. How come?

When the sun is low in the sky, the direct light is particularly yellow, while reflected light is particularly blue. The rabbit’s green and blue cones are ideally placed to detect any objects lit with these contrasting colours. See Nuboer and Moed (1983) for more information (abstract here). 

So rabbits can’t see in pitch black, and are not nocturnal animals. But their eyesight is ideal for an animal that comes out at dawn and dusk in poor light, wary of any predators that are looking to pounce.

Can rabbits see infrared?

Rabbits cannot see infrared. They have poorer vision for red light than humans, as they don’t have any red cones in their eyes. Infrared light is beyond what is visible to them.

Do rabbits blink their eyes?

Rabbits do blink, but much less often than humans. They blink about once every five minutes.

They need to blink far less because they have an extra (transparent) eyelid – called a nictitating eyelid or membrane. This helps keep their eyes moist whilst enabling them to continue keeping an eye out for predators.

Rabbit eye problems

If you are concerned about your bunny’s eyes, check in with a vet, and also have a look at our page on common symptoms and what you can do at home to help.

More articles…

If you liked this article, read our article on how and when rabbits sleep.

You can also find out more about how rabbits hear, and how fast bunnies run.

Just want to treat your bunny? Check out our in-depth articles on what herbs are safe for rabbits, and what fruit are safe for rabbits.

And have a look at our suggested toys (all tested by our own rabbits).

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts
When and how rabbits sleep: in-depth guide

When and how rabbits sleep: in-depth guide

Introduction

Whether you are thinking about getting a new rabbit, or just trying to understand your pet bunny better, you might be wondering about a typical daily routine. And, just as we humans need our beauty sleep, so getting some sleep is important for rabbits. 

But when and how do rabbits sleep? Rabbits are crepuscular – they are most lively at dawn and dusk, and get their sleep (typically around 11 hours a day) during the middle of the day and also at night.

Because people see rabbits sleeping during the day, many assume that they are nocturnal – awake all night. But they aren’t. Crepuscular comes from a Latin word meaning ‘twilight’. This is the time of day (at both dawn and dusk) that rabbits feel most secure feeding and being active. 

Bunnies are prey animals – always looking out to make sure that a nasty predator isn’t out to get them. As many predators work best either in bright daylight or at night, feeding in twilight helps decrease the danger. It also means that they aren’t around in the heat of the middle of the day (rabbits can find it hard to regulate their body temperature when it gets too hot).

How many hours do rabbits sleep?

Rabbits sleep on average anything from seven to twelve hours a day. But their sleep pattern is different from ours. Because they have to be alert to danger, bunnies are light sleepers. They frequently wake up, having shorter periods of sleep. 

A common number you will come across on the web is 8.4 hours. But scientists measured the sleep patterns of some adult male rabbits. They found that the rabbits slept on average for 11.4 hours a day.

The scientists even broke down the type of sleep. 

The rabbits were in deep sleep about two-thirds of the time asleep. So about seven or eight hours a day.

The rabbits were in a light sleep – what the scientists termed drowsy – about a quarter of the time. So about two or three hours a day.

About a tenth of the time the rabbits were in what the scientists termed ‘paradoxical sleep’ – this is similar to REM sleep in humans, and may be an indication that this is when the bunnies are dreaming! See below for more on this.

You can access the abstract of the journal article here.

Other studies also show similar results (eg in one study the rabbits averaged nearly 10 hours a day asleep).

How do you know when a rabbit is sleeping?

But how do you know when your bunny is sleeping? The scientists used sophisticated polygraphic recordings, but our pet bunnies aren’t wired up. It can be hard to tell if your rabbit is simply lying still, or actually asleep.

Here are five signs that your bunny is sleeping. 

  1. They will be still. Rabbits don’t move around while asleep, though they can fall asleep in many different types of position.
  2. The ears will be relaxed. This can be harder to tell if you have a lop – they can always look relaxed! But if your rabbit’s ears are pricked up, this is a sign that they are awake. When sleeping, the ears will be lying against the head.
  3. The nose won’t be twitching. Rabbits wiggle their noses all the time while they’re awake, but not when asleep.
  4. The breathing will be slower. You won’t be able to notice this unless you are close. Just like humans, rabbits breathe more slowly while asleep.
  5. Just like some humans, some rabbits snore while sleeping. 

Do rabbits dream?

We can’t be sure what is going on in their heads. But it looks like they do dream. About ten percent of their time asleep is spent in a specific form of sleep, in which the body’s patterns look similar to wakefulness patterns, but the brain is asleep. Eyes can move fast (hence it is sometimes called Rapid Eye Movement sleep, or REM sleep for short). And the body can twitch or jerk around a little. 

This is similar to humans. We have different sleep states, and REM sleep is when we are dreaming (if you ever remember a dream, it is because you woke up during REM sleep). We too can twitch a bit during this state, and move around.

So it looks like rabbits do dream – we just can’t tell what they’re dreaming about. 

Can rabbits see while sleeping?

If rabbits can sleep with their eyes open, does this mean they can see while asleep? Not necessarily. But it does have advantages for them. Potential predators might think that they are awake. Also, if there is movement, the rabbit is more sensitive to the change in light, and so more likely to wake quickly and respond. 

Do rabbits sleep in the dark?

Rabbits sleep both in the day and at night, so they sleep both in the dark and in the light. They use the cues from the light to tell them when to sleep – when it is darkest and when it is lightest. 

What positions do rabbits sleep in?

Rabbits can sleep in a whole variety of positions. Some flop on their sides, and others splay themselves out. This is Fish’s favourite position. 

Partly it can depend on the weather. In cold conditions, rabbits are more likely to curl up into a ball when sleeping to keep warm. In hot weather, your bunny may stretch out as much as possible to keep cooler. 

Do rabbits like to sleep with other rabbits?

Rabbits are highly sociable creatures, and most love to sleep with other rabbits (once they know each other). This is one of the reasons that it is good to have to rabbits rather than just one. Our bunnies Fish and Chips like to sleep close together. 

Can you sleep with your bunny?

Some rabbits live indoors. If you have an indoor rabbit, you may wonder whether it is possible for an owner and rabbit to share a bed. There are a number of important considerations. 

The biggest factor to consider is the safety of your bunny. You are much bigger than they are. If you roll over in your sleep, you could crush your rabbit, injuring or even killing it.

Doctors don’t recommend that parents and babies share a bed for similar reasons. 

But there are other things to think about as well. 

One of these is hygiene. Rabbits like to mark their territory with both scent and urine. Additionally, they can carry germs into the bed.

Also, rabbits have different temperature needs from humans. We like warmer temperatures, and use duvets or covers to keep up the temperature. Rabbits prefer cooler temperatures, and already have a coating of fur. What is ideal for you may simply be too hot for your rabbit.

Another factor to consider is the sleep cycle. Rabbits have shorter periods of sleep than humans, so while you are trying to get your beauty sleep your rabbit may be nudging you and wanting attention and to play.

Consider the height of your bed. You also need to think about how easy it is for the bunny to get on and off the bed. If yours is really low to the floor, it may be fine, but a standard bed height is high for a rabbit to be expected to jump up or down.

You also need to think about your own health. If you have asthma or allergies, sleeping with a furry animal may not be a good idea!

For all these reasons, you should at least think extremely carefully before planning on sleeping in the same bed as your bunny.

Instead, you could create a sleeping area near or next to your bed. This could be safer for your bunny, and better for both of you.

Conclusion

Your rabbit needs their beauty sleep just like you. But rabbits sleep day and night in shorter bursts, sometimes dreaming. They are most active at dawn and dusk.

If you want to find out more about activity times for rabbits, check out our post on whether rabbits are nocturnal.

Ever wondered whether bunnies yawn when they’re tired like we do (and what yawning does)?

Has your bunny woken up and wants something to do? Have a look at our top toys for rabbits – all cheap, and all road-tested by ours.

You might be wondering how well rabbits see at night – find out more about how rabbits see the world in our article.

Is your bunny listening to you? Find out more in our guide to how rabbits hear.

Worried if your rabbit can go out in the rain? Find out in our article here.

Worried if it’s getting too cold for your bunny? Check out how cold is too cold for rabbits in our article here.

Posted by Jonathan in General, Rabbit facts