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Rabbits are crepuscular which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. To a certain extent, domestic rabbits follow this pattern too. This is a typical daily routine for a house rabbit...

Rabbits are crepuscular which means they are most active at dawn and dusk.  In the wild, these are the safest times of the day to emerge from the burrow to graze, socialise and play as predators are easier to spot when the sun is low.  Between times, they are safely underground in their burrows, sleeping or just relaxing and munching on their soft droppings (caecotrophs).

To a certain extent, domestic rabbits follow this pattern too.  Their natural body clock means that they are most active mornings and evenings and this is part of the reason why they make such great house pets - they sleep all day when you are at work and are ready for fun when you are around.

A typical rabbit day

Rabbits usually wake up with the dawn and stay active until about mid morning.  They spend this time eating, grooming, digging, foraging and playing.  They may investigate a new toy or digging box, follow you around to see what you are doing, or race around burning off energy.  Around mid to late morning, they will retire to their den or sleeping area and settle down.  They may emerge at times to use the litter tray or eat some hay but may often just sleep for hours, sometimes stretched out on their side but often just in a 'loaf' i.e. paws tucked in, ears back, eyes half closed.

In the early evening, they emerge to visit the litter tray, groom themselves thoroughly and start foraging for food.  Evenings tend to be their most sociable, relaxed time - when they are most receptive to strokes and cuddles and many house rabbits settle down and 'watch' TV with their owners.

This period of activity may continue quite late into the night, even after you have gone to bed, but rabbits usually get a good few hours sleep while you are in bed and are always ready and waiting for their breakfast in the morning (unless you are a very early riser!).

Rabbits like to adhere to strict mealtimes.  Hay should always be freely available but it is a good idea to get into the habit of feeding your rabbit once in the morning and once in the evening, during their active times.  They quickly become attuned to their feeding times and will remind you if you are behind schedule by circling your feet, standing up on their back legs and begging or even nipping your feet gently.

Wherever possible, it is best to respect this natural daily routine and avoid disturbing your rabbit during its sleeping times.  Rabbits can learn to sleep through a certain amount of everyday noise but don't try to cuddle them in their den or get them out for a play - the result is likely to be a grumpy rabbit who is then less willing to socialise with you during its naturally active times.

Tags: behaviour

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