Should I Cover My Rabbit Cage at Night?
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Rabbits can be a great addition to the family for many reasons: they do not require a lot of space, expensive toys or food. They also have their own unique personalities and can make friends with their caretakers or other pets. Among pets, rabbits are the third most popular after cats and dogs, and they have their own unique behaviors and care requirements. Caring for rabbits includes providing a cage where they are comfortable and get adequate rest.
This AnimalWised article discusses rabbit sleeping habits and whether it's a good idea to cover your rabbit's cage at night.
When and how to rabbits sleep?
In the wild, rabbits are crepuscular, meaning that their greatest activity occurs at dawn and dusk, when they emerge from their burrows to feed, play, and socialize with other rabbits. During the middle hours of the day and at midnight, rabbits remain hidden in their burrows where only a dim light reaches them, and they use these hours to rest and sleep. Even when hiding, rabbits remain alert, since they are prey to numerous predators, so they never get much sleep.
Because domestic rabbits are generally safe from danger and have more opportunities to relax and sleep than their wild relatives, their behavior, and habits differ slightly from those of their wild counterparts. Nevertheless, they are primarily crepuscular animals. Therefore, your rabbit will usually want to play and interact with you in the early morning and late evening, while preferring to sleep the rest of the day.
As for lighting, in order to guarantee your furry friend a good rest, you should avoid placing his cage in an area that is too bright, since direct and intense light will not allow your rabbit to rest well. On the other hand, absolute darkness is also not recommended, as the animal will have difficulty seeing its surroundings clearly. Rabbits are easy prey in nature. If they cannot observe their surroundings, they may feel insecure and stressed. In this case, it is ideal to place the cage in a quiet place and provide it with dim lighting, similar to what it would find in its burrow in the wild.
If you want to know more about your rabbit's sleeping habits, read this other article, where we explain in more detail how rabbits sleep.
Should I cover my rabbit's cage at night?
Deciding whether or not to cover your rabbit's cage at night depends mainly on where the cage is located:
- If the rabbit's cage is indoors: It is not necessary to cover the cage at night. This is because the temperature in the house remains stable and a nest or a house for rabbits in the cage is sufficient for the animal to sleep in it without freezing. Also, as mentioned in the previous section, it is best to give the rabbit a dim light during the resting period, like the one that naturally comes in through the window. However, even if it is not necessary, it may be beneficial for your rabbit to cover the cage at night. Some rabbits are so sensitive that they have a hard time being quiet in the dark. Additional protection in the form of a towel or blanket over the cage can help.
- If the rabbit's cage is outdoors: if your rabbit sleeps in the garden or on the terrace, we must take extreme precautions even before winter arrives. A sudden drop in temperature can even be fatally dangerous for the rabbit. For this reason, we must cover the cage as a precaution to prevent rain, snow, or frost from affecting the life of the rabbit. In spite of this, you should be careful when covering your rabbit's cage at night, because you should not forget that the cage must have good ventilation and, if possible, some dim light.
If you have a large rabbit hutch or enclosure with a covered area and an outdoor area, you may want to fill the inside with hay, shavings, or straw to create a sort of artificial nest or den. During the colder months, you can also place blankets in this area. On the other hand, if your rabbit sleeps in a regular cage, it is better to keep it indoors at night.
As mentioned earlier, rabbits are very sensitive to temperature changes and can become constipated quickly. Continue reading this other article to learn more about constipation in rabbits, its symptoms and treatment.
Ways to help your rabbit sleep better
Whether your rabbit sleeps indoors or outdoors, here are some general tips to follow to ensure your rabbit gets the best rest possible:
- Create a burrow: In the wild, rabbits sleep in burrows to protect themselves from predators. To make your rabbit feel safe, it's important that you meet this need by providing enough hay, straw, or wood or paper shavings for the animal to build a nest and seek shelter in. When the rabbit is resting in its burrow, never wake or disturb it, or it may lose confidence in you and its environment.
- Do not place the cage near drafts: Rabbit cages must be well ventilated, but should never be placed in rooms with strong drafts, which will make your rabbit uncomfortable and may result in illness.
- Avoid noisy or busy places: Like us, the rabbit requires a quiet environment to relax and sleep. Avoid placing the cage in an area of the house where there is usually a lot of commotion, such as the living room or kitchen. Rabbits can quickly become stressed by noise and movement.
- Watch your rabbit sleep: if you notice that your rabbit is lying with its eyes closed, in a sphinx position with its hind legs tucked up, or completely on its side, it means that it has enough confidence in its surroundings to relax completely. However, if you notice that the animal is constantly alert, rarely sleeps, or sleeps for very short periods of time, it may be stressed. Rabbits are animals that are used to being constantly alert. If they are not in a comfortable environment, they are capable of sleeping with their eyes open to catch everything that is happening and run away if necessary. If this is the case with your rabbit, it is advisable to take it to the veterinarian to rule out pathology and determine the cause of its behavior.
Now that you know that it is not necessary to cover the rabbit's cage at night, it is important to know that it is not positive to keep the animal in its cage 24 hours a day. It is critical that you can take the rabbit outside for exercise and interaction with other household members. Do not miss the following video, in which we explain in more detail how to care for a rabbit.
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