Are Rabbits Nocturnal?

If you head out into a field, forest, or some towns and cities at night, it is not uncommon to see rabbits running around. This often begs the question ‘are rabbits nocturnal?‘.

You would think they are. After all, it is dark outside. The rabbits are out. However, rabbits are not nocturnal. On this page, we are going to look at why this is the case.

are rabbits Nocturnal
Rabbits are not Nocturnal

Are Rabbits Nocturnal?

Rabbits are not nocturnal. They are what is known as ‘crepuscular‘. This means that they are going to be most active during the latter part of the evening, and early in the morning i.e. dawn and dusk. In the wild, they will often sleep during the day and in the evening.

However, things may be slightly different in the comfort of your own home. However, this is something that we will talk a little bit more about shortly.

There is an evolutionary reason as to why rabbits are active at dawn and dusk. This does not meant rabbits are nocturnal. It means that in the wild, they are prey.

The vast majority of their predators are going to be active at night and during the day. When dawn and dusk rolls around, their main predators will not be able to see them as well.

For example; foxes tend to be active during the day. This means that their eyes do not deal with the low level of light that dusk brings quite so well.

Owls, another major predator for rabbits, are active at night. However, even the small amount of light that dawn offers is enough to completely mess up the vision that owls have.

This means that they will find it tricky to hunt down a rabbit.

Obviously, rabbits, despite being crepuscular, will still have predators, but there will be far fewer of them.

Are Rabbits Nocturnal When Kept in Captivity?

Are Rabbits Nocturnal?
Are Rabbits Nocturnal?

There have been several studies that also look at the way in which domestic rabbits live their lives. Obviously, if a rabbit is kept in captivity, they are going to have no predators.

This means that you would think that they would live their lives however they feel.

However, this doesn’t really seem to be the case. Well, as near as we can tell.

Studies can’t really seem to nail down whether rabbits are crepuscular in captivity or not. There is an indication that they are. This does not mean that the domestic rabbits are nocturnal.

These studies have indicated that rabbits base their sleeping patterns on the amount of noise in the area, particularly noise from other animals. If you are at home during the day, then it is likely that the rabbit is going to be less active during the daytime hours.

This is because it will hear the sounds you make and that evolutionary response will kick in. However, if you are at home during the evening, you may find that your rabbit is a lot more active during the daylight hours.

Obviously, every rabbit is going to be an individual. While in the wild, rabbits have little choice but to be crepuscular, there are ways to influence their behavior when they are living in captivity.

They do still seem to have that evolutionary response, but it doesn’t seem to be as strong as it would be if they were out in the wild. This means your behavior will impact them.

Get Friendly With Your Rabbit

Now you know the answer to the question ‘Are Rabbits Nocturnal?’. This means that if your rabbit feels safe in the place that it lives, then it is more likely to be active when you are awake i.e. during the daylight hours.

Remember; it is likely that you are going to be feeding the rabbit, which means that it does not need to worry about foraging food.

If you keep food in its cage at all times, then it is always going to have something to eat and, therefore, it is going to feel a lot safer.

You will need to have a lot of ‘contact’ with your rabbit too. For example; you will want to pet and stroke them as often as you can.

If you have animals in your home which are known to be predators e.g. dogs and cats, then you shouldn’t keep them anywhere near the rabbit as this will impact the rabbit’s sleeping patterns.

Do bear in mind that this is a slow process, though. It is an evolutionary trait for a reason, and your rabbit’s activity patterns may never change.

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