Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Do Rabbits Blink Their Eyes? (Vet Approved!)


When I first adopted a rabbit, I happened to note her blinking her eyes quite frequently. At first, I ignored it since I assumed it to be similar to humans. But, when I spoke to other bunny parents, I found that there is a threshold and you may have to worry when it goes beyond that threshold.

If you have a bunny, you should know all about the blinking of a rabbit. Before I start, let me answer your primary question.

So, do rabbits blink their eyes? Rabbits blink less than 12 times an hour and use the third eyelid or nictitating membrane to clear the eye and maintain moist condition.

What Do Rabbits See?

Rabbits possess a distinctive visual system that offers a different perspective of the world compared to humans. Their vision is characterized by an expansive field of view, covering nearly 360 degrees, which is crucial for detecting predators. However, this advantage comes with a trade-off in depth perception, making it challenging for them to discern fine details. Rabbits also have a blind spot right in front of their nose and under their chin.

In terms of color vision, rabbits perceive colors, but their spectrum is limited primarily to shades of green and blue. This limited color perception aids in identifying food and safe environments. Rabbits are crepuscular, meaning their eyes are optimized for low-light conditions, aligning with their peak activity periods at dawn and dusk. Their vision is particularly adept at detecting motion, a vital trait for a prey animal to sense potential threats.

Understanding these aspects of rabbit vision is essential in providing a safe and nurturing environment for them. It helps in recognizing that their visual capabilities and limitations significantly influence their interaction with their surroundings and their behavior. This knowledge is particularly useful for rabbit owners to ensure their pets’ well-being and comfort.

Why do rabbits blink eyes?

Rabbits blink their eyes around 12 times an hour. Blinking helps to keep the eyes clean and lubricated, and also helps to remove any debris that may have gotten into the eye.

There are several reasons for rabbits to blink their eyes.

  • Maintaining moisture level of eyes
  • The eye is highly irritated.
  • The rabbit is expecting a predator around.
  • The rabbit is trying to communicate something to you.

Since blinking happens in the third eyelid, there are many times when you might not be able to spot it.

In addition to keeping the eyes healthy, blinking can also be used as a way to communicate with other rabbits. For example, when a rabbit blinks its eyes slowly, it might be trying to show that it’s friendly and wants to interact.

In fact, a research article states that the slow blinking in a rabbit allows better dilution and interaction of drugs on topical application.

So if you ever see your bunny blinking its eyes, try to decipher what it might be trying to say!

And if you’d like to know about it visually, here’s an interesting video that I got hold of:

What does it mean when my rabbit blinks?

When your rabbit blinks, it is a way of communication. It could mean that your rabbit is happy, uncomfortable, or scared. If your rabbit blinks at you frequently, he might be trying to tell you something.

Repeated blinks of a rabbit could affect the appearance. Pay close attention to your rabbit’s body language and blinking patterns to better understand what they are trying to say. If you are ever in doubt, it is always best to take your rabbit to a veterinarian for a consultation.

While it is common for you to miss noticing the blink of a rabbit, you have to worry about when it looks obvious and beyond 15 times an hour in the long run.

Do rabbits ever close their eyes?

Rabbits happen to sleep with their eyes open but the third eyelid might close and sleep although you can’t notice the same. When they close their eyes, they are happy with you.

Rabbits may seem to be always awake and aware of their surroundings, but did you know that they do actually close their eyes? It’s usually not for very long, but it’s a sign that even rabbits need some rest.

There are a few different reasons why rabbits might close their eyes.

Break time

One is that they’re just taking a break. Rabbits are always moving around and exploring their surroundings, so it’s no surprise that they get tired occasionally. Closing their eyes for a few minutes gives them a chance to rest without missing anything.

I have always seen my rabbit closing eyes for a few moments when he needs a break and feels exhausted.

So, this is quite common.

Fear or suspect of threat

Rabbits might also close their eyes when they’re feeling scared or threatened. This is called “blinking out” and it’s a way for rabbits to try and make themselves look smaller and less threatening. By closing their eyes, they’re not giving the other animal anything to focus on, and hopefully, the other animal will go away.


Lastly, rabbits might close their eyes when they’re feeling happy and content. This is called “blinking” and it’s a way for rabbits to show that they’re relaxed and comfortable. It might not happen very often, but it’s a sign that rabbits can be just as calm and peaceful as any other animal.

How many times does a rabbit blink?

The blink frequency of a rabbit can be a maximum of 15 times in an hour and if it crosses this threshold, you should take him to a vet.

This frequency can change depending on whether the rabbit is resting or active. When a rabbit is at rest, it will blink around 9 times in an hour. However, when the rabbit is active, its blink frequency can go up to 15 times in an hour.

Note. Rabbits blink both eyes at the same time and typically close their eyes for about 1/10th of a second.

Many people think that rabbits never blink, but this is not true. Rabbits do blink, but just not as often as other animals. This is because rabbits have a special eyelid that helps keep their eyes clean and free from dust and dirt. The eyelid also helps to keep the rabbit’s eyes moist.

According to veterinarian Ada McVean, every part of the body in a rabbit always stays alert as they inherently feel as prey animals and remain cautious to protect them. From nasal breathing to cranial hinges, all are well-aligned with their eyesight.

What does it mean when a rabbit winks at you?

A rabbit winking at you can often happen if he/she is feared or unhappy about something. If your rabbit winks at you frequently, it’s probably a good idea to take notice – it could mean that he/she is trying to tell you something important!

If a rabbit winks at you, remember that he is unhappy and you have to give him all the love with the right environment.

If you haven’t seen your rabbit wink, we have a video for you.

Do rabbits sleep with their eyes open?

Rabbits do sleep with their eyes open but the third eyelid closes for sleep although it is not visible to the naked eye.

In fact, they close their eyes very rarely – usually only when they’re very tired. This is because rabbits are prey animals, and keeping their eyes open allows them to stay alert for predators.

Related – How long can a rabbit travel in a car?

Rabbits sleep for around 8 hours per day, usually in short bursts. During these naps, their heart rate and body temperature drop slightly, but they don’t enter into a deep sleep as we do. This means that they can wake up very quickly if they need to, and they usually stay quite alert during their naps.

So the next time you see a rabbit sleeping with its eyes open, don’t worry – it’s just doing what comes naturally to it!

How long do rabbits blink?

Rabbits blink 10-15 times an hour and it is not uncommon. If they feel threatened, they might blink more rapidly.

Blinking refreshes the eyes and helps remove any debris. It also keeps the eyes lubricated. In fact, rabbits have a third eyelid that helps keep their eyes clean and moist. If a rabbit’s blink rate increases, it might be a sign that something is wrong and you should take it to the vet.

A quick tip is to ensure that your rabbit isn’t dehydrated. It can rule out possible complications.

A blink of a rabbit is usually quick and not something that is usually seen by an owner. It’s one of those things that you don’t really think about until you start to pay attention to it.

Note. They can also show peculiar signs especially when they are in their mating periods.

We have an article on – Do rabbits need to be in pairs?

Do bunnies have a third eyelid?

Bunnies have a third eyelid, the nictitating membrane, that is meant to maintain moisture and lubricate whenever needed for better health.

You should take a look at the video below.

Bunnies are interesting creatures with a lot of quirks that make them unique. One of the most interesting things about bunnies is that they have a third eyelid. This extra eyelid is known as the nictitating membrane and it helps to keep the bunny’s eyes clean and healthy.

The nictitating membrane is a thin, transparent membrane that covers the front of the bunny’s eye. It helps to keep the eye clean by removing any dirt or debris that may get caught in it. The nictitating membrane also helps to lubricate the eye and keep it healthy.

Bunnies use their nictitating membrane to help them see in low light conditions. The membrane can also be used to protect the eye from injury. If a bunny is injured, the nictitating membrane will help to keep the eye moist and protected.

Rabbits Third Eyelid Problems

Rabbits’ third eyelid, or nictitating membrane, is crucial for eye protection and moisture. However, it can be prone to several issues:

  1. Inflammation or Infection: The third eyelid can become inflamed or infected, often indicated by redness, swelling, or discharge. Causes include environmental irritants, bacterial or viral infections.
  2. Prolapse of the Third Eyelid: This condition occurs when the eyelid protrudes abnormally, potentially due to trauma, infection, or underlying health problems.
  3. Tumors or Growths: Rarely, tumors can develop on the third eyelid, requiring veterinary attention for diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Cherry Eye: Although more common in dogs, rabbits can also experience ‘cherry eye’, where the gland of the third eyelid prolapses, appearing as a red mass.
  5. Trauma: Physical injury to the eye can affect the third eyelid, leading to pain, swelling, and impaired function.
  6. Dirt and Debris: The nictitating membrane can trap dirt or debris, causing irritation or injury to the eye.

For any of these issues, prompt veterinary consultation is crucial. Treatment may involve medication, surgery, or specific care depending on the severity and underlying cause. Regular checks and maintaining a clean, safe environment can help prevent these problems.

And if your rabbit has suddenly stopped eating, that’s a double red flag as well. Learn more about it here:

Do rabbits have an inner eyelid?

Rabbits have an inner eyelid that is also called the nictating membrane. This eyelid helps to keep the eye clean and moist. It also helps to protect the eye from debris and foreign objects.

The nictating membrane is a thin, clear membrane that can be seen at the inner corner of the rabbit’s eye. It moves up and down and helps to lubricate the eye.

Do rabbits have a nictitating membrane?

Rabbits do have a nictitating membrane. This thin, membranous structure helps keep the eyes clean and moist by sweeping away debris and lubricating the surface of the eye. It also helps protect the eyes from damage.

The nictitating membrane is transparent, so you can’t see it unless you look closely. Some people call it a “third eyelid.”

Rabbits are not the only animals that have a nictitating membrane. Dogs, cats, and other mammals also have one. It’s a common feature of creatures that live in a dirty environment since it helps keep the eyes clean and free from infection.

The nictitating membrane is a very important part of the rabbit’s anatomy. It helps keep their eyes healthy and functioning properly.

Why is the rabbit showing white of eye?

The white of eye of a rabbit can indicate an injury, cataract, or blindness turning the entire eye cloudy.

According to PetMD, rabbits develop cataracts similar to humans and the white of eye develops as a result of this health condition.

If a rabbit’s white of eye is cloudy, it needs to be taken to a veterinarian for an examination. There are many potential causes for a cloudy white of eye, including infection, injury, or tumor. Left untreated, a rabbit with a cloudy white of eye may eventually become blind.

There are several things you can do to help keep your rabbit’s white of eye healthy.

  • Make sure your rabbit has plenty of fresh water to drink and clean, hay to eat, and a place to nest.
  • If your rabbit is outdoors, provide a shaded area for them to rest in during the day.
  • Regularly check your rabbit’s eyes for any signs of injury or infection, and contact your veterinarian if you notice anything abnormal.

My Rabbit Will Not Open Her Eyes

If your rabbit is reluctant to open her eyes, it’s a sign that needs immediate attention. The causes can be varied:

  1. Infection or Inflammation: Eye infections or conjunctivitis can cause discomfort, leading to a reluctance to open the eyes.
  2. Injury or Trauma: Any injury to the eye or surrounding area can cause pain, prompting the rabbit to keep its eyes closed.
  3. Foreign Objects: Small particles like dust or hay can irritate the eye. Ensure that your rabbit doesn’t stay outside always even though he’s an outdoor rabbit breed.
  4. Corneal Ulcers: These are painful sores on the eye’s surface, often caused by scratches or trauma.
  5. Dental Issues: Dental problems can sometimes lead to eye issues due to proximity.
  6. Allergies: Environmental allergens can cause irritation.

Irrespective of the cause, taking to a vet is advisable. Delaying can lead to complications or worsening of the condition. The vet may conduct a physical examination, possibly including an eye exam or x-rays, to determine the cause and appropriate treatment, which could include antibiotics, pain relief, or surgery in severe cases.

Keeping the rabbit’s living area clean and monitoring its health regularly can prevent some eye problems.


Do Rabbits Have Eyelids?

Rabbits possess a pair of upper and lower eyelids like most mammals, which help protect and moisturize their eyes. Additionally, rabbits have a unique third eyelid, known as the nictitating membrane. This transparent eyelid moves horizontally across the eye, providing extra protection and helping to keep the eye clean and moist.

This adaptation is especially important for rabbits as prey animals, allowing them to maintain clear vision and awareness of their surroundings with minimal blinking. The presence of these eyelids plays a crucial role in the overall eye health of rabbits.

How Do Rabbits Manage to Blink So Little?

Rabbits manage to blink so little due to their unique eye anatomy. They possess a third eyelid, known as the nictitating membrane, which helps keep their eyes clean and moist without the need for frequent blinking. This membrane sweeps across the eye, clearing debris and providing moisture.

Additionally, rabbits are prey animals, and less frequent blinking allows them to remain vigilant against potential threats. Their eyes are also adapted to retain moisture, reducing the need for blinking to lubricate the eye surface. This adaptation is crucial for their survival in the wild.

Can Your Rabbit Recognize You by Sight?

Rabbits have good vision and can distinguish between different shapes and colors, which helps them identify familiar people. Additionally, rabbits use other senses like hearing and smell to recognize individuals. Over time, they associate certain visual aspects with their owners, such as clothing patterns or general physique.

Rabbits are also adept at detecting subtle movements and body language, further aiding in recognition. This ability to recognize their owners visually contributes to the bond between rabbits and their human caregivers.


A blink or wink of rabbit’s eye can mean several things from happiness to unhappiness and other health conditions.

Whenever your bunny happens to blink more than the threshold, you should take him to a vet for an eye checkup. At times, it could be normal but at several times, it needs immediate treatment especially if your bunny is aging.

I could save several rabbits from developing eye infections because I could reach the vet on time and also stay aware of remedies for every condition. What about you?

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Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran
Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about animals and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of animals and birds, she uses PETSMOND to share her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health. Know more about me - https://petsmond.com/about/

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