Rabbits are peculiar beings; they are not nocturnal but crepuscular. Crepuscular beings are active during twilight hours, and during dawn and dusk, natural light is dimmer.
You might have observed this when your pet rabbits are more energetic at dawn or dusk than during the day. But, how can they do this? Can rabbits see in the dark?
Let’s figure this out.
Do Rabbits Have Night Vision?
Rabbits, whether wild or domesticated, are crepuscular. You might notice how your pets are more energetic during the early morning or evening; it is the same with wild rabbits.
The dim or low light environment is the best time for wild rabbits to socialize, look for food, or clean their burrows because there is a lesser chance for their predators to attack at these hours.
However, if you ask if rabbits have night vision the same as owls or other nocturnal animals, they don’t have the same adaptation. Rabbits cannot see in complete darkness; that’s why they are most active at dawn or dusk when there is still little light from the sun.
If rabbits roam at night, they rely on their other senses to help them move around or sleep safely to stay away from predators. Rabbits rely on their sense of smell and facial whiskers to “see” or move around at night.
Rabbit’s Vision: How Rabbits See Things
Although rabbits see better than people in low-light environments, their vision still appears grainy. However, it is not as sharp during brighter conditions; that’s why they prefer a dim environment.
Rabbits have different eye anatomy than other animals. What do rabbits see? Their large eyes on the side give them a 340-degree vision and have a blind spot between their nose. Rabbits rely on their whiskers and sense of smell to compensate for their blind spot.
Moreover, rabbits are farsighted but lack depth perception. It makes them clumsy at close range, but they can easily determine their predators far away.
A rabbit’s vision is not excellent, but its rabbit eyes have a few incredible facts that make them different from other animals and survive in the wild.
Incredible Facts About Rabbit Eyes
We have talked about how incredible rabbits have night vision. But did you know there are other facts about a rabbit’s eyes? Let’s see how this part of their anatomy gets more interesting.
1. Rabbits’ eyes are open when asleep
Rabbits sleep in three positions: flop, sprawl, loaf. In these positions, rabbits can sleep with their eyes shut or open. Often rabbits sleep flop down with their eyes shut when they sense the surroundings are safe.
But rabbits often sleep with their eyes open for survival, especially those rabbits in the wild. Rabbits keep their eyes open to deter their predators.
The light receptors of their eyes still work even when asleep, sending signals to their brain to snap them into motion. Keeping their eyes open convinces predators they are awake and not go after them.
2. Rabbits see what’s behind them
Unlike most animals, rabbits have different eye anatomy. If you closely observe, rabbits have large eyes located on the sides; this anatomy gives them a wide panoramic field of vision.
Its wide panoramic vision field helps rabbits see their surroundings, almost 360-degrees, without turning their head. That’s why rabbits easily notice predators that sneak from behind.
But because of their eye anatomy, rabbits have a blind spot in front of their noes. Fortunately, rabbits have sensitive whiskers and an excellent sense of smell that helps figure out what’s in front of them.
However, this ability is excluded from one rabbit species, lop rabbits. Lop rabbits cannot see what’s behind them because their ears hang down from the side, blocking their vision.
Thus, lop rabbits rarely exist because they cannot protect themselves from predators sneaking from behind. It is sad that lop rabbits primarily exist because they are domestically bred to have long, floppy ears.
3. Blinks once every 5 minutes
How long can you hold your blink in a staring contest? Rabbits only blink once every 5 to 6 minutes. That’s blinking only 10 to 12 times in an hour! Compared to humans, we blink 10 to 20 times in a minute!
Indeed, rabbits have unique eye anatomy. It can infrequently blink because of its third eyelid, which keeps the eyes moist and protected from dust and debris. Moreover, blinking less frequent makes them more guarded when they sleep and scan the area for danger.
4. Farsighted eyesight
Rabbits are farsighted; they can see things better at a distance, and it helps them pay attention to objects far away and notice danger or predators in the distance. Their farsighted eyesight is another trait that keeps them alert for survival.
Close-up objects are blurry for rabbits. However, this is not a problem; they have a great sense of smell and whiskers to detect what’s in front of them.
5. Can’t see red
Unlike humans, rabbits do not have three categories of their photoreceptors. Rabbits cannot see red; they can only see green and blue or greyscales when they look at red.
Although color vision is essential in survival, such as picking their food, especially for wild rabbits, it does not impact their survival.
6. Difficult to see objects in 3D
The downside of the rabbit’s eye anatomy is its lack of depth perception. Rabbits have limited in what they see in 3-dimension. That’s why rabbits scan their surrounding by parallaxing.
When parallaxing, the rabbit moves their head back and forth to determine the size and object in the distance. You can observe this technique on rabbits that lives in the wild to see predators effectively and get away with them.
Your new rabbit may also move their head around and scan to familiarize the environment at home. This is one of their survival behavior.
Bonus Information: Common Eye Problem of Rabbits
Rabbit eyes are incredibly amazing; it keeps them safe from their predators. But, because it is a large organ in a small body, rabbits have common eye problems to deal with.
Although these eye problems may not be fatal, they may indicate that your rabbit suffers from severe diseases. Read on. This will help you notice the signs easily.
Humans who have an eye infection get pink eye. Similar to humans, when rabbits suffer from an eye infection, the blood vessels in their eyes swell and give their eyes a red or pink tinge. At times, it is accompanied by bumps around its eyes or swelling.
Aside from rabbit eye infection, red eye can result from allergies or serious problems such as glaucoma. It is best to bring them to the vet for consultation.
This eye problem is an exception to albino rabbits. Albino rabbits have red eyes; it is the natural color of their eyes. They have a pretty different situation from the red eye infection. If you want to check your red-eyed rabbit for red eye disease, check for weepy eyes or swelling.
The same with humans; rabbits develop cataracts. Cataracts on rabbits may be caused by old age or eye infection. A cataract is a cloudy white substance that forms on the rabbit’s eye; it blocks light and may cause complete blindness.
Although eye surgeries can remove cataracts and correct rabbits’ vision, some veterinarians do not recommend surgery because it is dangerous and expensive.
But, if your rabbit goes completely blind at old age, you can still make them live happily by ensuring to provide a rabbit-safe environment.
It is uncommon for rabbits to cry or have watery eyes. Excess water is drained through their tear duct. If you notice your rabbit has weepy eyes, this may indicate a serious health problem. Health problems include:
- Blocked tear ducts
- Eye infection or injury
- Irritating eyelashes
- Overgrown teeth
If weepy eyes are left untreated, it may cause irritation and inflammation on the skin around the rabbit’s eyes. Bring your rabbit to the vet if this eye problem occurs.
Although abscess is quite common in rabbits with a serious bacterial infection, eye abscess happens when the rabbit suffers from overgrown teeth. Overgrown teeth may pierce the rabbit’s skull resulting in an infection.
Bring them to the vet before their condition worsens.
Rabbits Alone in the Dark
Nighttime can be stressful for rabbits as they cannot see in complete darkness. As prey, it causes them stress and anxiety. If you are worried about your pet rabbit, you can leave them alone in the dark.
Your rabbit is familiar with your indoor environment. It is familiar with its surrounding; just ensure you made the environment rabbit-safe.
Moreover, if they feel safe at night, they sleep through. However, if you have observed that your rabbit’s sleep cycle makes them more active at night, it is best to provide a dim light or motion-sensor light to help them avoid accidents or injuries.
It is fascinating to know these facts about rabbits in the dark. Rabbits’ vision is crucial for their survival in the wild. That’s why we need to keep their eyes healthy.
Moreover, do not assume your pet rabbits can make their way around complete darkness. Always provide a safe environment.