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Last Post by bam at 7/21/2017 12:49 PM (9 Replies)
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User is Offline LoveChaCha
Rabbit Warren
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8/03/2010 6:28 AM

Okay, I am oh so curious!! I know that rabbits sleep with their eyes open and in many sleeping positions (mine just flops onto her side OR does the bunny loaf/cotton ball position as I call it).

How can bunnies sleep with their eyes open?  Is there a hidden eyelid?


I understand they do this because of a fear of getting eaten by predators.. but how does their anatomy allow bunnies to do it? A hidden eyelid?


User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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8/03/2010 1:27 PM
They do have a 3rd eyelid but I don't really know a whole lot about it. I'm not sure if that closes over while they are "sleeping alertly". Good question.
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User is Offline Petzy
Northern AB Canada
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8/04/2010 7:06 AM
Some rabbits close their eyes but it looks like a squint. Some sleep with their eyes open and some look really creepy wiith eyeys open but the third eye lid slipped over the eye... I have wondered if it is a matter of the kind of sleep they are having.
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User is Offline Kyoshi
265 posts Send Private Message
8/04/2010 8:01 AM
I think that when the bunny is feeling safe they sleep with there eyes closed.

User is Offline MissKris&Koji
285 posts Send Private Message
8/04/2010 11:02 AM
I know that for rats, it actually takes muscle effort to close the eye. That's why their eyes will be open while they are anesthetized, because the muscles are fully relaxed and therefore the eye is open. I do not know if rabbits are anatomically the same, but it is a possible explanation.

User is Offline Monkeybun
Hillsboro, Oregon
10511 posts Send Private Message
8/04/2010 11:00 PM
Moosie closes his eyes alot. He has fromt eh first day I brought him home... he's a comfy man Monkey only closes her eyes if she is completely relaxed.

User is Offline Andi
B.C. Canada
1057 posts Send Private Message
8/05/2010 10:53 AM
PitStop freaks me out with his eye open sleeping, spacialy when he doesn't wake up right away when i come close.
I've not really noticed any of the other bunnies sleeping like this, bust most of them will wake up if I am around.

All animals that I have seen anesthetized have their eyes open, and need the eye gel to keep the eye from drying during surgery etc. I am kinda of curious, do people? And is it a relaxed muscle thing? curious.
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User is Offline jerseygirl
Forum Leader
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8/07/2010 6:33 PM
Posted By Petzy on 08/04/2010 10:06 AM
Some sleep with their eyes open and some look really creepy wiith eyeys open but the third eye lid slipped over the eye...

I had posted a pic of what I thought was the 3rd eye lid in Rumballs eye. He had flopped and was totally out of it. This layer was greyish  & went straight across top half of his eye.

BUT last night I was lying next to Jersey and she was meatloafing, and her eyelids did that trembling thing. THEN she flopped. It gave me a fright how quick she went into a flop, it almost looked involuntary. She was in a deep flop so I could look directly over her and this eyelid thing came well down over her eye. It was opaque and i could even see tiny blood vessels. A less opaque one came a little across from the corner of the eye too. I gather that the one from the corner is the 3rd eyelid but what is this other one?

It was weird! The only part of her eye showing what a small triangle of brown.  I wish I could have gotten a picture but my camera is broken. Even if I went to get the one on my phone, she would have moved.

Whoever says "It's only a rabbit" has obviously never loved a rabbit.

User is Offline Mirajane's Human
1 posts Send Private Message
7/21/2017 12:41 PM
My rabbit, Milo, does this every single day, ever since I got him. When he is cuddling with me, he closes his eyes because he feels safe around me. When he is sleeping by my bookshelf, he sleeps with eyes mostly open. It is normal for him so I do not panic, but the creepiest thing he DOES do is dream with them open. As most rabbit owners know, rabbits twitch a lot (usually legs, tail, eyelids and ears) when they are in their bunny R.E.M. phase. But as far as I know, this eyes-open thing is an instinctual response to being aware for potential predators in the wild. There are some evolutionary traits about all of our pets that cannot be bred out of them, so this would be considered something over which you probably don't to be worried.

User is Offline bam
Forum Leader
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7/21/2017 12:49 PM
Hi Mirajane's Human!

This is an old thread, and we ask members not to revive old threads. It can create confusion on the forums.
Your post is very nice and informative though, one of our leaders, LBJ10, has a bunny that sleeps just like yours - he dreams with his eyes open.
It's probably true that evolution has favored rabbits that sleep with their eyes open. The eyes are protected by their translucent third eyelid, so they don't dry out.

Feel free to start a new thread if you want to discuss this or any other rabbit-subject. In the Lounge we also discuss non-rabbit stuff.

I'm locking this thread.
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