Are rabbits nocturnal animals? If you haven’t been paying attention to your pet bunny you may think all your cotton-tailed friend does during the day is sleep. This observation probably made you believe that rabbits are only awake at night, but is that really the case? 

Pet bunnies can be super confusing if we don’t pay close attention to their routines. Let’s find out more about these fluffy critters and their rabbit habits.  

Are Rabbits Nocturnal?

The answer is no, pet rabbits are NOT nocturnal (meaning active at night), but they aren’t diurnal (active during the day) either, so what are they?

Pet bunnies are something in-between called crepuscular, which means that they are very active at dawn and dusk. This doesn’t mean that rabbits won’t be active in the day or the middle of the night, they’re just primarily active during twilight.

Why Are Rabbits Crepuscular And Not Nocturnal?

are rabbits nocturnal

Rabbits (scientifically known as Lagomorphs) are prey animals. Being active early morning just before sunrise and just after sunset naturally gives them some reprieve from both diurnal and nocturnal predators, the exception to this rule is cats.

Cats, being the sneaky predators they are, also like to be out and about during twilight. Their eyes are adapted to see in this kind of light. Many people that own both a pet bunny and a cat will tell you they become super playful when the sun just went down. You might also have a problem with them waking you up for playtime just as the sky begins to lighten in the morning. 

Diurnal predators, like foxes and people, find it hard to see in low light. Nocturnal predators, like owls, find dusk and dawn too bright for their night vision to work properly making it the safest time for your cotton-tailed friends to be out and about. 

Sometimes you’ll find your rabbits are nocturnal. This is very common in domestic bunnies. These are rabbits that feel safe since there are no nocturnal predators in your home which mean extra play time for them. This is another reason why many people think rabbits are primarily nocturnal pets.  

How Does This Affect Rabbit Owner?

Pet rabbits are very adaptable and can adjust their circadian rhythms based on outside influences. This means you, as a caring owner, don’t have to adjust your daily routine to suit your animal companions. Pretty cool right?

Despite your pet rabbit’s crepuscular nature, it will adapt readily to active times and play time that suits us.  Rabbits quickly learn that being active during human times means more treats and attention. They are very social after all that’s why it’s recommended to always have at least two rabbits at a time. They also get bored very quickly so it’s a good idea to have other rabbits around if you don’t want to play at midnight. 

For us, as pet rabbit owners, it means we need larger enclosures since a pet bunny needs space to run and express its unique personality. There are so many different ways in which they do this.

Rabbits, being prey species, also rely on us to keep them safe. Fortunately, the only danger in our homes is electric cables and other crepuscular animals like cats. If you have outdoor pets, make sure you build predator-proof animal shelters.  

safe rabbit run

By Eltpics

How Flexible Are Rabbits In Their Sleep Schedule?

So can rabbits be nocturnal and diurnal? It’s common for domesticated companions to be very active at the same intervals as their humans, even during daylight hours. Mostly, however, rabbits sleep during the day when we’re at work. If you’re worried, however, try to interact with your rabbit during dawn and dusk. The best time to play is usually in the evening when you are relaxed and not in a rush to get to work. 

You’ll also be surprised by how schedule-orientated a per bunny is. If you play with or feed your fluffy friend at 11 am every morning, chances are that your bunny will be awake and waiting for you. They love things to be very predictable. Try to keep to the same schedule if you can. 

They’ll also let you know when they aren’t happy. I’ve noticed my bunnies making grunting sounds at me for rearranging the cage, they simply don’t like things changing unnecessarily. A pet bunny can be surprisingly vocal. The best sound you’ll ever hear, however, is a rabbits purr. 

This sounds very similar to a cat purring but is produced by light chomping of their teeth. Just an interesting fact, a rabbit’s teeth never stop growing!

If you ever stray from your normal pattern, your buns will let you know by causing a ruckus in their enclosures. This is especially true if you’re late feeding them or letting them out for some fun and exercise.  If they have wooden toys or bowls in their cage, you might see them throwing these items around to get your attention. A pet bunny is great at making noise! It’s super surprising for a critter that’s supposed to be quiet. 

Despite adapting to being diurnal animals sometimes, rabbits are crepuscular through and through. If allowed, rabbits eat, run, dig underground burrows and raise litters of up to nine babies or more babies during their twilight hours. Mother rabbits will usually feed their young during this time to prevent leading predators to the nest site.

rabbit toys

Bunny in a box by Fren Chartres

Which Animals Are Primarily Active During The Day?

There are quite a few critters that prefer daylight over any other time. These diurnal animals include:

  • Chickens
  • Some mice
  • Ducks
  • Foxes
  • Most birds (There are a few exceptions)

Which Animals Prefer The Dark?

Just like daytime animals, there are also quite a few that prefer nighttime. Here are a few examples:

  • Owls
  • Caracals (These sneaky predators might come out at dusk already since they are part of the cat family)
  • Brown rats
  • Black rats
  • Jackals

When do female rabbits feed their young?

Healthy bunnies can raise multiple litters per year. Female bunnies will create a nest for their young to which she will only return once or twice a day usually during twilight hours. Most often they will be most active during dawn around the nest. The reason is that their main predators have either gone to sleep or aren’t awake yet to interfere with their crepuscular activity.

Rabbits may also be active at different times, but this is more common in domestic bunnies. If you have a mother pet bunny, make sure to give her lots of timothy hay, round pellets, and other treats to chomp on from the moment her eyes open. Also, make sure to remove your buck if you don’t want a second round of babies any time soon.

If your pet bunny is potty trained, you also want to remove the nest box as soon as the babies are old enough. They’ll start to use it as a litter box if it stays in their enclosure for too long.

rabbit sleeping

Why A Pet Bunny Is A Great Pet For Working People

If you want a pet, but work long hours, a pet bunny or two might be your only option. They work great with your busy schedule since they’ll mostly be asleep during the time you’re at work. This means they’ll be ready to give you lots of bunny love when you get home in the evening.

If you’re worried about your pet bunny getting bored while you’re away, get a rabbit-safe toy or two. You can also make your own by stuffing a toilet roll with Timony hay to keep your pet bunny entertained. Wooden toys that they can chew on are best. It helps to keep the teeth in good condition and your furniture safe.

Keep in mind that rabbit’s aren’t easter gifts unless you’re willing to put in the time and effort to care for them. They need their litter boxes and enclosures cleaned regularly and need quite a bit of attention. THis is especially important if you have only one pet bunny.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know that rabbits are crepuscular, you’re ready to go out there and prove all the non-believers wrong. The next question you might want to research is if rabbits are rodents. This is another subject many people argue over. Don’t worry we got you covered there as well. For the answer to that question, click here → Are Rabbits Rodents? Let’s Find Out

When are rabbits most active in your experience? Tell me in the comments below.

Happy Hopping!

Rabbit FAQ’s

Sleeping rabbit

How many hours a day does a rabbit sleep?

The question ‘are rabbits nocturnal?’ may come from spotting your fur babies snoozing between 8 and 11 hours a day. Most of their sleeping is done during midday and midnight hours.

If you never see your baby sleep, ensure there’s a quiet area to nest in and avoid disturbing your fluffy family member. Rabbits can and will adjust their sleeping schedules to suit the schedules of their owners. Keep this in mind if you don’t see your fluffy friend sleep when you’re around.

Are wild rabbits nocturnal?

Wild rabbits are also crepuscular. They will occasionally be out under the cover of darkness because they feel it is safer, but they are by far the most active during twilight in their natural habitats.

Where do rabbits go for a snooze?

Your domestic rabbit can either live indoors in a safe enclosure like a rabbit cage or hutch, or they can stay outdoors as long as there’s a protected living area, food, water, and shelter to hide in. 

Keep in mind that there are lots of deadly creatures out there that are dangerous to buns so they will need protection at all hours of the day and night. Restrict access to your buns, when you leave and won’t be able to watch for any predatory activity. 

Wild rabbits will retire to their burrows during the times of the day when some shut-eye is required. In the case of hares, you’ll find them snoozing away in the middle of a thick bush or thicket that hides them from the outside world. A hare does not create a burrow.  

How to improve your rabbit’s quality of sleep?

If your cotton-tailed friends are showing signs of stress and not resting properly as a result, the first thing you should check is the environment around your cages. 

Rabbits won’t nap if there’s too much noise, light or if they feel threatened in any way. It is best to move your bun to a dark, quiet spot that gives off a sense of safety if you want to improve their rest and lifespan

If you’re still worried, or your rabbit appears to be sick, consult your vet immediately. Make sure to note if the vets in your area are bunny savvy. 

What other animals are crepuscular?

Legamorphs aren’t the only critters active in half-light conditions, here are some other species you can expect to be out and about as well:

  • Hamsters
  • Mice
  • Guinea pigs
  • Cats
  • Chinchillas
  • Ferrets

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