Bunnies are amazing, furry creatures that make wonderful companions. They have a few qualities that make them unique from other animals.
If you have a pet bunny, you may notice that they always seem to have their eyes open. You may wonder, do bunnies blink at all?
Bunnies do blink, but it is much less often than humans. They only need to blink a handful of times over the course of an hour. This is because they have had to adapt to living in the wild, surrounded by potential threats from other animals.
This article will explore why bunnies blink less often, how they can do so with keeping their eyes lubricated, and why bunnies’ vision is so important and unique.
Do Bunnies Have Eyelids?
Although we know bunnies blink, if you have never seen them actually do it, you may be wondering if they have eyelids at all.
Bunnies do have eyelids; in fact, they have three. However, one of them does the heavy lifting in terms of keeping the bunny’s eye healthy and protected from outside debris.
The nictating membrane, essentially a third eyelid, is a crucial part of a bunny eye. This third eyelid sits in front of their cornea and is transparent, so when your bunny blink, you most likely will not see it.
The nictating membrane effectively helps maintain moisture in their eyes and is much better at it than our eyelids. It also protects the bunny’s eyes from any dust or debris getting into them and obstructing their vision.
Because it sits in front of their cornea, and the cornea is a large portion of the furry creature’s eye, it is super efficient at acting as a shield and keeping the eye lubricated.
Why Do Bunnies Blink Less Often?
As stated before, bunnies physically need to blink less often due to their third eyelid covering the entirety of their cornea, protecting them from dust and debris and acting to keep moisture in.
Is there another reason bunnies have adapted to be able to blink less often? Yes, and the reason is for safety. Bunnies have amazing eyes that let them see everything in their peripheral vision, so they can constantly be scanning for dangerous situations and predators.
Bunnies are farsighted and can see other creatures and dangers from far away and need their vision clear to do so.
If a bunny needed to blink, say as much as humans do, that could cause them to miss a potential threat and get into a dangerous survival situation. Bunnies need that third eyelid to serve a biological purpose and a protective purpose as well.
What If My Bunny Is Blinking Frequently?
Sometimes, you may notice that your bunny is blinking quite a lot or more than normal. This is unusual and should be paid close attention to as it can mean your pet has something wrong with their eye.
If this happens, it could be one of the following reasons:
- Bright lights may be irritating their eyes
- Dust or debris may have entered their eyes
- Infection like conjunctivitis
- Ulcers which are holes in the cornea
If you notice your bunny blinking often or scratching at his or her eye and you suspect they have something in there, you can gently lower their eyelid and lightly brush the eye area with a wet cloth or damp Q-tip to help remove the debris.
You can also take a little saline and try to flush out their eye area. Before attempting this tactic, you should consult with your veterinarian first, as putting saline in their eye could irritate it further depending on the issue.
If this doesn’t seem to work, check to see if the lighting in the room is excessively bright. If the lights seem bright to you, they are most likely too bright for your pet. Lower the lighting and see if that resolves the issue, and your bunny stops blinking excessively.
If none of these resolutions seem to work, it may be time to take your pet in for a visit with the vet. The third eyelid is essential to their health, and you do not want to let any issue linger too long. Your vet will be able to assess the situation and properly care for and treat your bunny’s eye.
How to Prevent Issues With Your Bunnies Eyes
There are some precautions you can take to ensure your bunny remains safe and healthy, including his or her eyes remaining perfectly functional.
Here are some suggestions to avoid an eye mishap:
- Maintain a clean living environment- just as humans prefer living in a clean, well-maintained home, bunnies also thrive in a spotless home. Be sure you are regularly cleaning your home, but you are also keeping the bunny’s living quarters neat and tidy.
- Remove dangerous obstacles- you need to bunny proof your house, similar to how you baby proof your home to remove dangers from your child’s reach. Take extra precautions to remove anything sharp and pointy from their level and places they can reach so they don’t accidentally poke their eyes.
- Observe your bunny’s behavior- if you notice any unusual behavior that is new or seems off, keep a close eye on your pet to monitor the situation and assess how you need to handle it.
Do Bunnies Need to Close Their Eyes To Sleep?
The short answer to this question is no. They do not necessarily need to close their eyes to catch some Z’s. The longer answer is they don’t need to, but sometimes they do.
A bunny’s nictating membrane gives them enough protection from outside elements that they can sleep with their eyes wide open throughout the night. Kind of creepy, right?
If you own a bunny, you might catch them with their eyes wide open and not even know they’re fast asleep.
There are ways to tell if your bunny is asleep in this case. For example, their nose will stop twitching, or their ears will be folded way back during deep sleep. Their bodies may even twitch a little, or they may make cute little noises while dreaming.
Although they do not need to, when a bunny closes their eyes during sleep, you can rest assured this is because they feel entirely safe in their environment. This is a sign that they have let their guard down and have fully relaxed.
Can Bunnies See Well At Night?
Since bunnies have almost 360-degree vision and don’t need to blink very often, you may also be wondering if their eyes have other capabilities that human eyes don’t have.
They do have a few different abilities that we don’t have that help them to better adapt to their environment and stay protected.
While bunnies can see better in lower light than humans, they don’t possess the power to see in the dark completely. Like humans, our furry friends have rods and cones in their eyes. However, they have a lot more rods, which are what make it possible to see clearly in low light.
Having more rods than cones causes the bunny to have grainier vision than other animals, including humans. This means that bunnies thrive best at dusk or dawn when their vision is strongest.
Is My Bunny Able to See Color?
Yes, bunnies can see color. However, they can’t see as many as we do. Their eyes cannot detect red light and are only sensitive to blue and green light waves.
Because of this, your bunny can see some colors, while the rest of their vision looks grey or dull to them. Earlier in the article, we learned bunnies have more rods than cones in their eyes.
Cones are in charge of detecting bright lights and giving animals the ability to see a lot of colors. Without enough of these, it causes your bunny to be partially color blind.
This is not an issue for a bunny; it just means they cannot see as well in bright daylight, and things are not as vivid.
As you have read, bunnies do, in fact, blink. However, they need to do so less often, thanks to that third eyelid.
The third eyelid is perhaps one of the bunny’s most important traits. Their eyes are a fantastic tool to keep themselves safe during the day and night.
Although bunnies may not have the best vision when it comes to color and clarity, they have an essential ability to see their surroundings at almost 360 degrees.
Without their third eyelid shielding their corneas and properly lubricating their eyes, this ability would not be possible. A bunny would not be able to be as alert.
Because bunnies do not need to blink often, they can survive much longer in the wild, and that’s a great thing!