Animals are known to have better senses, including the sense of sight, than humans. This is probably because they live in the wild and so, their senses need to be top-notch if they are to survive and evade predators. Rabbits are not left out as well. Their senses are heightened to help them cope with their environment.
However, can rabbits see in the dark? Yes, rabbits can see in the dark. Their eyesight is much better than that of humans. However, it would not be accurate to say that they have a good vision at night, as their vision is grainy and blurry at night instead of clear, and their eyes are more suited for dim lights than for pitch-black darkness.
How Well Can Rabbits See?
A rabbit’s eyes are located high up at the sides of its head, giving it an almost 360-degrees range of vision. This means that the animal can see above, behind, and far ahead of it. The only blind spot would be under its chin and directly in front of its face.
Rabbits are farsighted, meaning they cannot see things properly when it is up close, but they see things well from afar.
Since bunnies are prey animals, their eyesight is essential for their survival. They can see predators from afar and from any angle, and this advantage gives them ample time to scurry to safety. Nonetheless, they do have a problem with gauging distances and determining how far a potential threat is.
This is because they mostly see in 2D.
Therefore, they would need to bob their heads and turn to their sides to ascertain the distance between them and a predator. Apart from their good eyesight, their great sense of smell and large ears with which they use to pick up sounds also helps them in evading predators.
Rabbits can also see colours, but mostly, they see just green and blue. So, in other words, they are partly colourblind. Their ability to see the green colour helps them with their food which is most times green. They can differentiate between kinds of vegetables using the little variation in their shades of green.
Rabbits are crepuscular animals which mean that they are active mostly at dawn and dusk. Rabbits that live in the wild come out at this time to look for food and get some exercise, then go back to their burrows when their predators are awake and active. Because of this, a rabbit’s eyes are programmed to see well in low light. When the sun is setting, at that time, a rabbit’s vision is great.
The Makeup Of A Rabbit’s Eye And How It Works
The eye of a rabbit is made up of rods and cones. The rods are meant to aid their vision in various levels of light while the cones help them to see and determine colours. We, humans, have three cones that help us see and interpret the primary colours red, yellow, and blue, while rabbits have just two cones which they use to see the colours blue and green.
A rabbit’s eye has more rods than cones when compared with the human eye, and this affords them great visual sensitivity in poor lightings. Although the resolution of the images they see are grainy and blurred, they can see better than humans in dim light.
A rabbit is far-sighted, so its vision up close is blurry and unclear. This is because of its fovea, which is present in the retina. Humans have a curved fovea with high cone density while that of rabbits is not curved and has a lower cone density, making it difficult for them to interpret and distinguish between shapes and complex lines.
This is the reason why your rabbit may not immediately recognise you, especially if you are carrying something obtuse. You would appear different to it.
Rabbits have three layers that make up their eye, including the nictitating membrane, which helps to moisten their eyes. Because of this nictitating membrane, they do not have to blink very often and only blink about 10 to 12 times in an hour. Also, a rabbit could have its eyes shut like it is sleeping and still be able to see you. This is because just one of its layers is closed, and the other two are still functional.
Would Rabbits Rather Be In The Dark Or Light?
Wild rabbits are accustomed to darkness since they stay in burrows that are underneath the ground, and sunlight does not get to penetrate in there. While they are there, they will feel comfortable and safe since it is their home, and they tend to be less anxious because the darkness serves as a cover necessary for their survival. However, when they are out in the open in total darkness, it is a different story entirely.
They may become scared and anxious since they are not familiar with the surroundings and do not know what dangers could be lurking in the dark. This is why they usually come out in low lights (dawn and dusk) when they can see perfectly.
However, pet rabbits are not used to this kind of lifestyle, and so, they may prefer daylight which they equate to being with and spending time with their owners. They, therefore, feel happy and safe when it is daytime. Therefore, pet rabbits prefer daylight.
How Can I Make My Rabbit Feel Safe In The Dark?
We just established that pet rabbits might prefer daylight to darkness. This then means that they may be uncomfortable and scared of the dark. Your rabbit might refuse to go back to its cage at night. It might even hide from you and become anxious, and this can lead to it becoming destructive.
To handle this problem, some people recommend keeping your rabbit indoors for the night. But you might not want to go with this option. Another alternative is to help your rabbit feel secure and safe in the dark so that it will feel less anxious and more relaxed. You can do this in some of the following ways:
- Make the cage soundproof: You could try making your rabbit’s hutch soundproof by insulating it and probably adding a Perspex cover to block outside noises and the sounds of nature such as a fox howling.
- Get company for your rabbit: Everybody loves to have a companion and rabbits are not an exception, especially when it is dark. You can get another rabbit to be a companion and friend to your pet, so they will feel less anxious and take solace in themselves through the night.
- Provide something to occupy your rabbit’s mind: Make sure fresh hay is available for your rabbit. Also, you could provide toys to draw its attention away from its fear of the dark and focus on something else.
- Cover the cage: When it is nighttime, you can cover your rabbit’s cage with an old towel or a tarpaulin to give it a sense of added protection. You can also make use of a Perspex cover which is secure and blocks any interference from outside.
- Provide a different sleeping area: Providing an old box for your rabbit to sleep in at night can make it feel more comfortable as it creates the notion of it having a protective fence in which to stay.
- Provide room for it to burrow: If your rabbit has room to burrow, maybe under the hay, it will satisfy its wild instincts and give it the feeling of being underground and safe.
Can I Put Light On For My Rabbit At Night?
Putting on light for your rabbit seems like a very cool option, but it comes with some problems. For one thing, too much light can cause stress for a rabbit as they usually do not spend all of their time in the light. Also, they need both light and darkness to help their body clock function so they can know when to shed fur or even reproduce.
Putting on light for your rabbit at night would make your rabbit active thinking it is playtime, and it may start making noise and trying to leave its cage. This will affect its waking and sleeping routine, which can be a problem. You will end up incurring expensive power bills as well, so getting your rabbit to tolerate darkness is the best path to tread.
Rabbits cannot see in pitch-black darkness so they can’t navigate their way. It is, therefore, your duty as a rabbit owner to ensure your pet is comfortable and feels safe both in the day and in the dark.