If it is already tough for you to read our articles without feeling an odd warmth in your chest, hold on tight because this time… the load of tenderness is going to be massive! We are talking about cute sleeping rabbits, their sleeping habits and the significance of their sleeping positions.
True, rabbits don’t speak English (or any other human language, for that matter), but they can communicate very clearly, if you know how to pick up on their body language.
Some context on the sleeping habits of rabbits
You may have already heard: rabbits are crepuscular animals. What does that mean? It means that their most active time is during dawn and dusk. So, now you know when to look for a fun time with them!
What about the rest of the time? Short naps for a cumulative total of 8-10 hours!
So, unlike humans, rabbits do not sleep for eight hours straight, they have many small sleeping moments and their rest is therefore spread out over the day. Also, you might have noticed that they’re seriously light-sleepers. Don’t worry, it’s just the way they function.
Before we talk about sleeping positions, can you actually tell when your rabbit is sleeping?
To non-rabbit owners, this might sound like a crazy question. But that’s not an easy task! It can indeed be hard to tell when your furry friend is sleeping.
Why? You’ll know in a few lines, but first some background.
Rabbits have a very strong sense of self-preservation deep inside them. Their genetics tell them to protect themselves, stay alert and be ready to flee in the event of a predator attack. There are often no predators in the house (well, of course, dogs and cats can count as such), so your pet may have that typical ‘wild’ behaviour, that will change over time as its trust in you increases. Due to this constant state of alertness, that’s why rabbits often sleep with their eyes open.
So, to tell if your rabbit is sleeping you need to look at its nose. When your rabbit is awake, you will know that it is in full activity and control of the surroundings, because you will see the nose moving quite quickly. If the nose is at rest, it means that the brain is also at rest and the little one is having a good sleep.
What meanings can rabbit sleep positions tell us?
There are three main meanings that sleeping positions can tell us. First of all, as you can imagine, they tell us whether the rabbit feels comfortable in its environment. As a prey animal by nature, many rabbits tend to sleep in positions that allow them to be ready to flee in the shortest possible time, in case of danger. Some positions – as we will learn soon – are more relaxed but less convenient in terms of survival. In the home environment, however, this will mean that your rabbit feels safe with you and can let his guard down.
Another meaning we can pick up on when observing a sleeping rabbit is the state of its body temperature (help your bunny with this) and whether the little one is trying to regulate it. If you saw your bunny resting the majority of its body surface area on the cool floor, during a warm summer, you would know that your rabbit is hot. If, on the other hand, you see your bunny more contracted and curled up, you know that he is trying to conserve as much heat as possible.
Overall, then, you can tell if your rabbit feels calm and peaceful, safe and comfortable with you and everyone else in the house, while asleep.
Most common positions and meanings
Let’s now dig into all the details you need to know about your rabbit’s most common sleeping positions!
The loaf position
You will be able to recognize the loaf position when you see your rabbit curling up on itself. the legs, both front and back, will be tucked underneath its own body, ears will be relaxed and the head will be probably lowered. Perhaps the most accurate sign that your rabbit is sleeping in the loaf position is that you’ll be thinking: Hey, that looks just like a loaf of bread!
This position is interpreted with two meanings.
I gave you some clue a little while ago: this will mean that your rabbit does not feel completely safe and is ready to face possible predators, getting up and fleeing quickly. The other reason is that it may be trying to conserve as much heat as possible, in its body.
Dead bunny flop
Okay, so maybe it’s not the most pleasant name (or image) that humanity could have assigned to this position, but that’s how it’s known. You’ll recognize it when you will find your furry friend sleeping on its side, paws extended.
The first meaning (spoiler: you’ll love it) is that your rabbit feels safe. It means that it’s calm, serene, has let its guard down and doesn’t expect to receive any attacks. This is definitely a good sign for all rabbit owners.
If you are or have even been a dog owner, you may have seen your dog in this position as well. Personally, I find it hilarious in both cases. You may feel like your pet is about to take flight and leave you, but no, it’s just sleeping in the superhero position. You’ll find it completely stretched out and spread out on the floor. Again, this means that your pet feels safe. In fact, consider that he is extremely vulnerable right now. Since it has the hind legs extended, escaping in case of an attack would be extremely risky. At the same time, if you’re in the hottest season of the year, it could also mean that your rabbit is trying to cool off.
You’ll be able to recognize the sphinx position… well, if your rabbit reminds you of a sphinx. You’ll see it with contracted muscles. Be aware that the same body tension will correspond to a certain tension of the spirit. In fact, it is a pose that indicates its attempt to calm down and take the stress off itself. Not surprisingly, when your bunny naps in this position, it is also extremely alert and ready to sprint away if in danger.
The lambchop position is another fun way you might see your little friend sleeping. It will show you its body in all its splendor, lying on its side with one or both hind legs extended. It will look to you like it’s sunbathing and having a great time. That’s exactly right! Ok, maybe it’s not exactly having the time of its life, but still we can assume it is definitely feeling quiet and comfortable in its environment and most importantly with you.
Finally, another reason to go for this position might be to enjoy the cool surface of the floor during a hot summer.
Some final words
By now you should have learned more about your rabbit’s sleeping positions and what they mean. Before leaving you, I’d like to clarify one very important matter.
You may have felt discouraged at some points while reading this article. You might have thought that your rabbit doesn’t often sleep in the positions I’ve listed as the most relaxed. And because of that, you may have felt sad knowing that your little friend doesn’t feel comfortable with you, despite how much love you give it.
Don’t despair, even though this species is slowly getting used to growing up in captivity, their deeper genetics and nature is not that way. Rabbits need time to get to know you thoroughly and to learn to trust you little by little.
You will get there, don’t worry. Keep up the good work of caring for them and you’ll see that your bunny will give you great satisfaction and so much love!