When Do Baby Rabbits Open Their Eyes?

One very important question our readers often ask is- when do baby rabbits open their eyes? Rabbits are adorable creatures, and baby rabbits can be very cute. If your female rabbit recently birthed a litter, you may be waiting impatiently for when the kittens open their eyes. It would be best if you were patient though, as this process can take some time, depending on the breed of the rabbit.

The average time it takes for newborn kits to open their eyes after birth is about 10 to 12 days. Some baby rabbits open their eyes earlier than that and some later. A delay may depend on the breed of the rabbit, or in a more worrisome case, a health issue.



Why Are kittens’ Eyes Closed For Days After Their Birth?

As the proud and happy owner of newly born rabbits, who is anxiously waiting for them to open their eyes, you may be wondering if there is any reason why their eyes should be closed after birth[1]. There are indeed reasons for this, and they include:

  • To protect the kittens’ eyes from harm: Baby rabbits’ eyes are fragile and delicate organs, more so since they are not fully developed yet. They will be subject to harm from various things and circumstances.
    Kits in a litter may damage each other’s eyes while wriggling around. Aside from that, wind or even bright light can hurt and damage a newborn rabbit’s eyes. Keeping their eyes closed until they are well developed is nature’s way of protecting them.
  •  To protect the kitten’s mother: Pregnancy can take a great toll on a doe, in the same way with human females and many other mammals. In the wild, nursing does leave their kits in the nest for a good part of the day, only coming back to feed them once or twice a day.

The kits do not need eyes to stay by themselves in the nest, and so, most of the doe’s energy is targeted at developing them to live outside her body after birth. After birth, their mother can then leave them alone in the nest while she goes off to search for food.

This way, she will not need to take her kits with her, and so, she will have a better chance of surviving in the wild while she goes about her business.



When Will Your Baby Rabbits Open Their Eyes?

You can expect your kits to open their eyes about 10-12 days after they are born. However, opening their eyes does not mean that they will be able to see clearly. A kit’s eyes keep developing even after it opens them, and so, while it may be able to see things that are very close to it, say, for instance, its littermates, it will not be able to see things that are afar off.

It will take some weeks before a baby rabbit can see as well as its parents. In some rabbit breeds, this period could be longer, taking the animal as much as two months for it to see clearly. The same goes for rabbits with some health challenges. During these weeks, the rabbit’s eyes will keep developing, and the muscles in them will be strengthened to provide the animal with a clear and sharp vision.

While your kits’ eyes are still developing, you should take care to keep bright lights away. Bright lights can cause damage to their eyes, even if they have not yet opened them.

Should I Open The Eyes Of My Baby Bunny?

Sometimes, by the 12th day after your kit is born, it may still not open its eyes. This can be a cause of alarm and worry. However, no matter how worried you are, you should never take it upon yourself to force the kit’s eyes open. You will be doing far more damage than good if you attempt this.

Forcing your rabbit’s eyes open when they are not fully developed could destroy its facial nerves, eyes, or eyelids, which can lead to dangerous problems like blindness, paralysis, and worse, death. If you notice that it is taking a longer time than is normal for your baby bunny to open its eyes, you should take it to the vet. The vet will examine the animal to know if there are any problems and advise you on what to do.

Conclusion

Baby rabbits are very delicate animals as they are born hairless, blind, and deaf. Their eyes, in particular, are very delicate, and any mishandling could cause them serious problems. You should avoid handling newborn kits and do not try to open their eyes as it is normal for them to be born with their eyes closed.

Also, keep bright lights away from the kits and care adequately for the nursing doe as she is in the best position to give the kits all the care that they require during this period. By the 10th to 12th day after the kits are born, you should see them open their eyes.


Glossary

  1. Catster [Link]

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