Rabbit eyes are more widely spaced than those of other mammals, including humans. This gives rabbits a wide field of view (up to 270 degrees) and allows them to spot enemies without turning their heads.
Like the rest of a rabbit’s body, its eyes are designed for survival. Their round shape and large corneas help gather as much light as possible, even in dim light. Additionally, the pupil contracts to a slit when it is dark, allowing rabbits to see better in the dark.
Rabbits are prey animals, so they generally operate in a state of hyper-vigilance. This gives them an edge in any situation where they perceive themselves as being threatened by a predator.
Rabbits are constantly scanning their surroundings, using both hearing and sight to interpret the world around them. A rabbit’s eyes, situated very low on its head, give it a fairly limited vision of what is happening behind it. This makes it difficult for rabbits to watch for predators coming up from behind – an unfortunate side effect of being a bunny!
Consequently, rabbits tend not to blink their eyes very often because they rely on their long-range peripheral vision to warn them when any kind of predator might be approaching.
Rabbits have three eyelids. The upper lid is composed of two thin layers of skin. Only the top layer moves when a rabbit blinks, and this is mostly for keeping the eye clean of debris.
The lower eyelid is actually a thin membrane that covers the eyeball and protects it from dust and foreign objects. Unlike humans, rabbits cannot close their eyes completely for protection when they are sleeping or are otherwise resting but in general rabbits do not spend much time resting with their eyes shut – they are too busy scanning their surroundings.
A rabbit’s ears are the most obvious places to watch for signs of a predator. The top of a rabbit’s head is mostly free of fur (except for the top of the head, tail and nose), so it is easy to see whether or not a rabbit is alert.
When not in danger, a relaxed or contented rabbit holds its ears at an angle close to 45 degrees and slightly outward when facing forward. Its eyes are open, with the upper eyelid just barely visible because it spends so little time blinking.
If it was feeling threatened by something in front of it (or even above it) then it would be inclined to hold its ears straight up and twitch toward whatever appeared to be threatening.
If a rabbit blinks its eyes a lot, especially when it is standing still, it may be nervous or frightening. It may also be cold, so make sure that your pet has enough bedding material and that the cage/hutch is well ventilated.
If your rabbit blinks more often than normal but seems content otherwise then there probably isn’t anything to worry about. When rabbits are being hunted they can enter a heightened state of alert, which can make them blink more often. If your bunny seems fine otherwise, you don’t need to worry if it blinks from time to time for no apparent reason.
Do rabbits ever close their eyes?
A rabbit’s eyes are usually open wide, but it is possible for them to close their eyes completely for a short time. A rabbit can even close its eyelids completely by simultaneously contracting the muscles at the side of each eyeball and lowering its upper eyelids over the front of its eyeballs.
If a wild rabbit is in danger (for example, because it has been caught by a predator) it may become very still and suddenly draw in its hind legs.
This increases the chance that any predator will mistake it for being dead, giving it a better chance of surviving. In such cases, rabbits will sometimes close their eyes so that they do not look like they are staring and stiffening up so much makes them less obvious to predators.
The second eyelid is transparent and can be pulled over the eyeball for protection. If your rabbit has had an accident and there is something in its eyes, it may blink a lot even when it seems fine otherwise. It will be painful for your bunny if you try to remove the object with tweezers so make sure to take your pet to the veterinarian instead.
If a rabbit does get something stuck in its eye, it will close that eye tightly while trying to get rid of the object by shaking its head from side to side or blinking rapidly (which won’t cause any harm).
Do Rabbits Have Eyelids?
Yes, bunnies do have eyelids, made of the same material as human eyelids. The upper lids are thin and move to allow for blinking, while the lower is a transparent membrane that covers the eyeball. The second eyelid is transparent and can be pulled over the eyeball for protection.
The eyes are primarily located at the sides of a rabbit’s head to give it good peripheral vision. This makes it easier to spot predators while keeping an eye on other rabbits in its warren or litter for signs of dominance (or trouble).