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Can Rabbits See in the Dark? Are They Nocturnal?

Nicole Cosgrove

A rabbit’s sense of vision is just one of many traits that make it well adapted to surviving in the wild. If you own a rabbit, you may know that they are most active at dawn and dusk – but tend to sleep their days away and will gladly wake you up early in the morning!

What does this mean for their vision, though? In this article, we’ll be exploring the questions of whether rabbits can see in the dark, from low light conditions to complete darkness, and explain whether rabbits are nocturnal. Along the way, you’ll learn more about how your rabbit’s eyes work, as well as tips for how to best care for their eyesight in your home.

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In Short: Yes, Rabbits Can See in the Dark!

It’s true! Rabbits can see in the dark. Because they are crepuscular – meaning that they are most awake and alert at dawn and dusk – rabbits have evolved to see very well in low light conditions. This helps them to forage for fresh grasses and weeds, even while the sun is barely up.

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Image: Pxfuel

Can Rabbits See in Complete Darkness?

While a rabbit’s eyesight is most well-developed for low light situations, it’s still usable even in complete darkness. Like humans, a rabbit’s eyes will adjust to whatever light settings are available. They won’t be able to make out every detail in complete darkness but can still make their way around a room just fine.

How Do A Rabbit’s Eyes Work?

It’s easy to see that a rabbit’s eyes are positioned laterally – that is, on the sides of their heads. This gives them a nearly 360-degree field of vision, with only a small blind spot right in the center of their vision where their eyesight doesn’t overlap. This wide field of vision helps to identify any potential dangers in their environment, so they can take action to stay safe.

Rabbits can see a few colors, but not the same spectrum as humans. Mostly, their vision is limited to hues of green, blue, and yellow.

Amazingly, a rabbit’s eyes are more acute than those of primates – including humans. They can see farther into the distance and detect movement more quickly. Eight times more sensitive to light than humans, rabbits are easily able to see with even just a small light source.

When Are Rabbits Most Active?

Rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk. This pattern of activity helps to protect them from predators, as most predators are either diurnal (more active during the day) or nocturnal (more active at night) — meaning that their eyes are least acute in the hours around sunrise and sunset. Rabbits take advantage of this time to safely travel and gather food.

Are Rabbits Nocturnal?

So since rabbits are most active at dawn and dusk you might be wondering if they are awake and active through the night, or, in other words, wondering if rabbits are nocturnal. You might be surprised to find out that no, they are not. They are actually categorized as crepuscular, which means they’re most active at – you guessed it – dawn and dusk.

Rabbits find the daylight to be too dangerous when it comes to predators. And although they’ve got excellent night vision, the deep of the night is also too dangerous for rabbits, so, they tend to spend most of their time just before the sun rises and sets again.

Should You Leave a Light on for Your Rabbit at Night?

Opinions differ on whether rabbits enjoy a light on at night, though this may be a matter of your rabbit’s personal preference. If your rabbit’s sleep cycle has made them more active at night, it may be best to leave a very dim light on for them to help avoid accidents. But, if they are happy to sleep through the night, it’s best to turn out all the lights and let them rest deeply.

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Final Thoughts on Rabbits in the Dark

Rabbits are fascinating creatures, and the way they see the world is uniquely suited to their lives. According to our sources, they can readily see in low light settings – though complete darkness is more difficult for them to navigate. Either way, their vision helps them to stay safe in the wild and avoid accidents in the home.

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Featured Image: Pxfuel

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.