Do Rabbits Close Their Eyes When They Die

Do Rabbits Close Their Eyes When They Die? [ & Other Interesting Facts! ]

If you have ever experienced a pet rabbit’s unfortunate and heartbreaking death, you may have noticed a few things that concerned you. Though devastating, it is not complicated to know when your rabbit may be close to this state. But there are a few signs to look for if you are not already aware. While it is a heartbreaking sight, there are a few things to understand if you suddenly find your pet rabbit has died and many owners have asked, do rabbits close their eyes when they die? If so, do they die in pain? What happens when they die?

Yes, like many animals, rabbits die with their eyes wide open. This event is likely due to the fact, however, that no rabbit ever completely shuts their eyes as a safety mechanism. Rabbits are born with a third translucent eyelid named the nictitating membrane behind their eyes that they close while sleeping. This third eye is invisible to humans, making it a handy getaway tool if confronted by predators. 

Here we will look deeper into what happens when rabbits die, as well as some other facts you may not have known.

Do Rabbits Close Their Eyes?

Rabbits are amazing creatures when it comes to reaction time to predators, and this is likely due to the third eye (nictitating membrane) that they possess. If you are a pet rabbit owner, do not be alarmed.

Being as tiny and incapable of battle as they are, rabbits are born for the art of escape. Rabbits are an extremely high alert species as their small bodies make it difficult for them to fend off predators. When provoked, instead of fighting, rabbits decide to use their speed and hops for a getaway.

Given this, rabbits are always hard-wired to be on high alert. This process is done by keeping their eyes open much of the time and even while sleeping. If you are the owner of two pet rabbits, you may notice different ways in which they communicate through their eyes. Rabbits are very protective of their own and will watch out for each other.

Do Rabbits Close Their Eyes When They Sleep? 

Since they are a high alert species, you have likely noticed them never sleep if you own a pet rabbit. This is not the case as they obtain a third translucent eyelid. This eye is called the nictitating membrane and shuts while a rabbit is asleep, allowing them to stay in a dozed like state and run at any time. There are some rabbits, depends on personality which you may see sleep with their eyes closed.

It is an experience like a human being half asleep, only to be unexpectedly awakened by an alarm. This sudden noise or action wakes up the human instantly, and they are ready to react. This experience is similar to how the third eye works for rabbits and likely the reason you have never seen your furry friend “asleep.”

This article might interest you as well: “How Often Do Guinea Pigs Blink?

How Do You Know When Your Rabbit Is Going To Die?

Like many animals, it is not hard to see signs that your pet rabbit may be dying. With their tiny figures, it will indeed show. It is also essential to know these signs as seeing them early could save their lives or let you know what you need to do next.

The first sign many rabbits will show is that of not eating or drinking of any sort. However, keep in mind that this may be a sign of illness and not death, so it is vital to seek vet care right away. Another sign that your pet rabbit may be dying is that they will begin shivering or having heavy spasms. If this happens, it is almost certainly a sign of death and should not be taken lightly.

Other symptoms include a limp body, no reactions, or random jerks and movements. If you begin to see any of these signs in your pet rabbit, do not take them lightly.

Do Rabbits Scream When They Die?

If you do notice these signs in your pet rabbit, also look for signs as screaming. Many rabbits will scream or whine as a sign of dying. This is likely due to fear and pain if they are dying from debilitating diseases or hemorrhage diseases. Rabbits may also scream if they are experiencing seizures. Other rabbits may decide not to react and gain a limp body or lay there until they have passed.

However, rabbits can also scream if they experience intense fear, such as being unexpectedly attacked by a predator. This can again happen by a rabbit smelling the predator and the noise. So, while rabbits will scream when they die, make sure to assess the situation as it could also be out of extreme fear.

Do Rabbits Close Their Eyes When They Die

How To Comfort A Dying Rabbit?

When you see your rabbit begin to show any of these signs, it may just be best to comfort them until they have gone. Ways to do this are by first seeking veterinary care for the proper pain meds. This step could make a world of difference in what your rabbit goes through during its difficult time. Make sure to keep them properly fed and keep their environments at proper temperatures for added comfort.

The next step is to provide your pet rabbit with loads of love, attention, and warmth. These simple pleasures will ease them in more ways than pain meds could ever dream. Love and attention are a massive part of this process and will likely decide how your pet rabbit feels before going. Be sure always to comfort them using these steps, and your rabbit will surely die comfortably if it is their time.

Final Thoughts

To wrap it up, yes, scary as it is rabbits will die with their eyes open. Rabbits usually will sleep with their eyes opened but it is through an incredibly unique and exciting way in which they do so. Like being in a dozed state, the third eye or “nictitating membrane” shuts behind the rabbits’ open front eyes and allows them to be aware of their surroundings and sleep simultaneously. However, it will most likely look to a human eye as if the rabbit is sleeping with its eyes open.

Rabbits are fascinating creatures that are very quick on their feet and able to escape predators at a moment’s notice, and the reason for this is the third eye that they are naturally born. At any given time, these creatures are ready to escape and find the next location. So, do not be alarmed if you are a pet rabbit owner to see your rabbit sleeping with their eyes open. This is just how rabbits were born!

4 thoughts on “Do Rabbits Close Their Eyes When They Die? [ & Other Interesting Facts! ]”


    Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with?

    I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a difficult time making
    a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m
    looking for something completely unique. P.S
    My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  2. My 2 year old rabbit passed away suddenly, when he passed his eyes were open, but when we buried him later on his eyes were completely closed, what does this mean?

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