Rabbits are some of the best pets to have for any type of owner. These animals are really fun to have because of their overall friendly demeanor and their natural docile nature. They are unlike a lot of animals in terms of how they behave since rabbits are generally mild-mannered and are not really very aggressive. However, rabbits also have their own unique behaviors and nature as animals.
While a lot of owners are used to domesticated animals that are usually diurnal or active during the day such as cats and dogs or even to exotic animals that tend to be nocturnal or active when the sun is already down, rabbits can be a bit different compared to such animals because of their history and place in their natural habitat in the wild. This can sometimes make owners wonder if rabbits are diurnal and nocturnal because the time at which they are active tends to be different from other pets. Let us find out.
How a rabbit behaves in the wild
In the wild, rabbits tend to be a good source of nourishment for a lot of different predators. They are of the right size for different carnivores in all sorts of habitats. On top of that, rabbit meat also contains a good combination of protein and fat that predators need to keep themselves strong and healthy. That is why you often see predators such as big cats, wolves, foxes, birds of prey, large monitor lizards, and snakes hunting rabbits and make them a part of their regular diet.
From that, you can safely assume that rabbits are indeed near the bottom of the food chain in the wild because of how a lot of different predators hunt them and eat them. Moreover, humans also feed on rabbit meat either as a substitute for regular meat or as a delicacy in different places all over the world. And because rabbits are easy to breed due to how quick they are to reproduce, humans have come to breed rabbits specifically for their meat.
But rabbits, over their thousands of years of existence, have learned to adapt to their status as prey items and have learned to behave in such a way that will allow them to survive in the wild even though they are usually some of the top choices for different predators. One way of doing so is to make sure that they avoid going out during the times at which predators are often active.
Rabbits are crepuscular
Rabbits are known to be more active during the times when their predators are not. This means that they will try to avoid going out of their holes when they believe that there are still plenty of different predators out there looking and hunting for food. But that is too easy to say than to do for rabbits because of how they are hunted and preyed on by all sorts of predators.
If rabbits wanted to avoid getting eaten by large monitor lizards that are usually diurnal, they might follow a nocturnal habit. However, some birds of prey and large cats are also active during the night. As such, rabbits still cannot guarantee themselves to be safe at night because of how there are a lot of predators that are well-equipped to hunt better during the dark.
Because of that, rabbits in the wild are not known to be diurnal and are not also nocturnal. Instead, they follow a behavior that is known as crepuscular. What being crepuscular means is that rabbits are more active during dusk and dawn instead of simply choosing to be active when the sun is out or when the conditions are already dark.
Rabbits have developed the habit of being crepuscular due to how they try to avoid predators that are active during either daytime or nighttime. There are not a lot of predators that also follow crepuscular behavior. However, even if there are predators that are active during dusk or dawn, it will be easier for the rabbits to spot them when the sun is low.
Due to their crepuscular behavior, rabbits come out of their burrows to play and socialize with one another during such times. They are also more active in looking for food during dusk and dawn. However, when the sun is already high up or when it has already set, rabbits are quick to retreat back to their burrows underground to sleep and rest or to eat whatever food they have in store.
In that regard, bunnies are not nocturnal and are crepuscular. Check this video out if you want to know more about their crepuscular behavior.
Domesticated rabbits are also crepuscular
While we may have used wild rabbits as a way of illustrating the behavior of bunnies, you may wonder if their domesticated counterparts are also crepuscular. The answer is yes. Even though domesticated rabbits are already several generations away from their counterparts and ancestors that are used to living in the wild, they also follow a kind of behavior that is similar to that of wild rabbits but not exactly crepuscular in the strict sense.
Domesticated rabbits may not have any good reasons to stay active during dusk and dawn because of how there are no predators to worry about, but they have also developed a habit that is similar to that of their crepuscular ancestors. However, instead of staying active during dusk and dawn, they are more likely to be more active during the early mornings and in the evenings.
The typical domesticated rabbit wakes up early in the morning or at dawn and is most likely to stay active throughout much of the morning until the middle. This is when they are usually great to play with because of how much energy they have. They may try to play with their toys or even run around the room shortly after eating to try to burn off whatever energy they have. At times, your rabbit or rabbits may even try to follow you around and observe what you are doing.
At around the middle of the morning, a few hours before noon, you will notice your rabbit becoming less active. This is the time when they should be retired back to where you keep it, such as its cage or wherever it may feel safe. The rabbit will sleep and rest soon after and will do so until early in the evening. However, it is possible for you to see them moving around from time to time to eat hay or to use their litter box but will soon try to sleep.
During the evenings, the rabbit will become more sociable again and will also be hungry. This is one of the best times you should feed your rabbit as they are used to foraging in the wild during the dusk. Your rabbit will also be more receptive to getting handled at this time and will love hanging by your side while you are watching TV or reading books before bedtime.
When you are about to sleep, the rabbit will still most likely be awake. In some cases, their activity will not stop even when you are already asleep. However, you should not worry because it will still be able to get a few hours of sleep until early in the morning when it is ready to be active again.
Conclusion – What you should do
Rabbits strictly follow this kind of behavior and routine. You should avoid disturbing it when it is resting because of how it will end up stressing the rabbit out. In some cases, you will also end up with a grumpy and somewhat defensive rabbit that will not enjoy getting handled. As such, try to follow the rabbit’s crepuscular behavior as much as possible if you want your bunny to end up happy and healthy.