Nyctophobia or fear of the dark is common in humans.
This is because we mostly rely on our sense of sight.
So if we can’t see anything, we may panic and tremble in fright.
Now, if you have ever observed a bunny, you’ll see that they’re fidgety too.
So you might wonder,
“Are they also afraid of the dark?”
Read on to uncover the truth and learn:
- If rabbits are scared of the dark or not.
- The things that scare rabbits the most.
- Several reasons why they get startled easily.
- Cool facts about their eyesight and night vision.
- And many more…
Are rabbits scared of the dark?
Rabbits aren’t scared of the dark. There’s no reason for them to feel this way as long as they’re safe from predators. And also if they’re in a quiet area. They’ll only be afraid if they hear a strange noise out of nowhere and they can’t see its source. As well as if they sense any sudden movement.
Can rabbits see in the dark
Rabbits can see in the dark. Their eyes could adjust in dim light conditions so they can detect movements. And this allows them to forage at dusk and dawn. But unlike nocturnal animals, they can’t see well in total darkness. This is why they still have to rely on other senses like smell and hearing.
So, “Why can rabbits see better than us in the dark?”
Based on Dr. Dana Krempels, this has something to do with their ‘photoreceptor cells.’
“What are those?”
Those are light-sensitive cells found in the retina.
They provide us with color and night vision. And this is done by converting light into brain signals.
Now, vertebrates like rabbits have 2 types of these, which are called cones and rods.
These are responsible for high image quality and color vision. This is because they can perceive different wavelengths of light.
A biologist says that a human’s retina has 3 types of these: red, blue, and green.
While research shows that a rabbit’s retina only has 2 kinds: blue and green.
So they have limited color vision. While we, humans, can see all the various colors of the rainbow.
On the other hand…
This type of cell is in charge of night vision. As it grants high visual sensitivity in dim light.
However, it comes with a low resolution. Like a 144p video on Youtube or a grainy photo as what Dr. Krempels described it.
Unlike ours, a rabbit’s retina has a higher amount of rods than cones.
So this is why they can see better in the dark.
However, when you compare their sight to other nocturnal animals like owls and cats…
A bunny’s vision has poorer clarity.
This is because rabbits are crepuscular creatures.
They’re mostly active at dusk and dawn.
Unlike most owls who usually hunt at night. And this is why they need better nocturnal eyesight.
Now, what’s the reason behind their excellent night vision?
National Geographic says that an owl’s retina has a ratio of 30 rods to 1 cone.
That’s a lot of rod cells and it’s the reason why they see well in the dark.
Also, owls have tapetum lucidum a.k.a. ‘eyeshine.’
“What is that?”
It’s a tissue layer behind the retina that reflects light. And this enhances their sensitivity in low light conditions.
Do rabbits have eyeshine?
A study points out that bunnies don’t have tapetum lucidum.
This is why their eyesight can’t adapt well in pitch darkness.
But, by tilting their heads and moving their eyes, they can have an almost 360° vision. Plus, they’re far-sighted too.
Also, they’re blessed with a superior sense of hearing. So they can detect any danger that’s coming from afar and flee from it right away.
Do rabbits like to be in the dark?
Rabbits like to be in the dark. They’re prey animals so they tend to burrow and hide as it gives them a sense of security. Also, being in dark areas may remind them of a warren. This is a series of underground tunnels where wild bunnies stay. So as an instinct, they may find comfort in alike spaces.
This is why some bunnies mostly stay under beds or tables. As well as in areas that are dark and have shelter.
And doing this is also said to be important for their well-being.
According to the RSPCA, rabbits need to have many opportunities to hide.
This is because aside from keeping themselves safe from predators…
They also do this when they’re:
- In need of a time-out from other rabbits or people.
Check out also: Why do rabbits burrow?
What to do?
Give them hiding places in their enclosure, such as:
- Cave beds.
- Small tables.
- Plastic stools.
- Collapsible tunnels.
- Wooden boxes/houses.
- Plain cardboard boxes with holes.
And take note of these reminders:
- Place their hiding places in a quiet spot.
- Make sure that they can access these anytime.
- These should have a minimum of 2 entryways. So that a rabbit can go out without running into others.
- If you have more than 1 rabbit, give at least 1 hiding place per bunny. And provide a large common hiding spot for everybody.
Do you have many rabbits at home?
If so, you might be interested in this video:
Also, keep this in mind.
Having a hiding place may not also guarantee that your rabbit will enjoy being in the dark.
They must be away from loud noises and safe from any predators too.
Bunnies should also have enough hay and toys that they can chew on. This is to keep themselves busy and prevent boredom.
Note: If you opt for cardboard boxes, only use plain and less expensive ones. Why? Because your rabbit will likely chew on them and eat some. Plus, thick and printed ones pose hazards to bunnies.
Do rabbits scare easily?
Rabbits scare easily as they’re nervous animals in nature. They can get startled by even the slightest sound or a rapid movement. And this might be because they’re prey animals. They have to be alert and fast in hiding to survive. So they’re highly sensitive to noise. As well as quick in responding.
“Why are they like this?”
They’re small and targets of many bigger animals, like foxes, dogs, and birds of prey.
So it’s normal for them to be skittish.
Experts say that fear is a ‘protective’ response.
And this is because it makes us and animals avoid situations that can put us in danger.
But, it’s not also good for a rabbit (or anyone) to always be on the edge.
This will cause stress. And sooner or later, it may also manifest physically. Then lead to other illnesses, such as stomach problems.
To prevent this, take note of these common signs of fear in rabbits:
- Excessive grooming.
- Thumping of hind limbs.
- Show aggressive behavior (e.g., biting).
Further reading: 13 Things Rabbits Do When They Are Scared (Behavior)
What are rabbits most afraid of?
Rabbits are most afraid of predators or anything that looks like a threat to them. But, they’re also scared of novel objects and unusual odors. They’re easily startled by loud noises and sudden movements as well. And they’re wary of unfamiliar people too. So picking them up can frighten them a lot.
Aside from these, rabbits will also be afraid of people cornering or towering over them.
Remember, bunnies are small prey animals. And we’re about 10 times their size.
So they may view us as intimidating giants.
This is why you should go down to their level whenever you approach them. And avoid creating noises or fast movements.
Also, always make sure that they have escape routes so they won’t feel trapped when they’re with you.
You might also want to check out: 21 Proven Ways To Instantly Calm Down A Scared Bunny
Interesting fact: A study proved that pet rabbits are more fearless than wild ones. It says that domestication made this happen. And their genes evolved to adapt to living with us.
How did they come up with this?
They found that house bunnies have a smaller amygdala than wild rabbits.
“What does it mean?”
It means that they have low anxiety levels. As well as flight responses.
This is why they’re tamer. And more willing to be submissive.
But come to think of it.
Having a strong flight response is beneficial to wild rabbits. This is so that they can flee fast from danger.
However, if you’re wondering whether a wild bunny can be tamed or not…
Read this next: 13 Simple Tips To Befriend & Tame A Wild Rabbit (How-To)