How to Keep Your Rabbit Quiet at Night

Keep your rabbit quiet overnight

Most of the time rabbits are very quiet pets. They can’t bark loudly like a dog or incessantly meow at you like a cat. However, rabbits that are kept in a bedroom can still keep you awake at night by thumping, actively racing around and playing, or loudly rattling the bars of their enclosure. Most of the time this is a behavior can be solved by giving your rabbit a daily routine and making sure they have enough socialization and exercise.

Rabbits should be given a consistent routine where they are fed at the same time every morning to prevent them from getting too active and loud while you are still sleeping. It also helps to make sure your rabbit has a large enclosure and has ample time for exercise, especially right before bed.

If you are struggling to sleep at night because of an overactive rabbit, then you can try these tips to help your rabbit calm down and rest overnight. It is, however, important to remember that some rabbits are simply more active than others and you may not be able to get them to completely quiet down. In these cases, you will need to make some changes to your environment to help you sleep at night when you have a rabbit roommate.

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Understanding natural rabbit activity levels

Before you start making changes to help keep your rabbit quiet at night, it’s important to have a basic understanding of a rabbit’s natural activity levels. Rabbits are crepuscular animals, which means they are naturally active in the early morning and in the late evening. They’re not going to have the same sleep schedule as you and will almost always wake up before you do. They also tend to have short intervals of activity every couple of hours, and don’t sleep straight through the night.

This means even if you make changes to help your rabbit stay quiet at night, they will still be active at some hours while you are sleeping. You cannot force your rabbit to have the exact same sleep schedule as you do. The good news is that most of this activity is relatively quiet, such as the pitter patter of their paws or the sounds of eating. However, if you are a highly sensitive sleeper, you might need to take some extra actions to cover up the natural sounds your rabbit will make while you are sleeping.

Young rabbits

Younger rabbits are likely to be more active and energetic than older bunnies. This means that you may hear them racing around their enclosure at some points in the night. I wouldn’t call this activity particularly loud, but it does wake me up occasionally in the night. There are some steps you can take to tire your young rabbit out before bed and keep them quiet, but some amount of pitter patter is unavoidable.

How to keep your rabbit quiet at night

Most of the time when people complain about loud rabbits at night, they are referring to their rabbit’s habit to rattle the enclosure bars or start thumping halfway through the night. Your rabbit might also be throwing their toys, food bowls, or even litter box around. 

1. Give your rabbit a consistent routine

A consistent daily routine, especially in the morning, is the most important part of helping your rabbit stay quiet overnight. With a consistent schedule, your rabbit will know exactly when to expect to be fed in the morning. They’ll know when they’ll have time and space for playtime, and they’ll start to get in the habit of resting more at night because that’s just part of their routine.

If you create a morning routine of getting up at 7am and immediately feeding your rabbit, then over time your rabbit will start to expect this. Instead of getting agitated or overexcited in the middle of the night, they’ll usually wait until just before 7am to become active. They’ll know that’s when it’s time for their breakfast.

alert vs confident rabbit
Watch a rabbit’s body language to know if they are thumping because they are scared or because they want attention.

2. Learn how to tell when a rabbit is thumping for attention

Sometimes rabbits are noisy because they start thumping in the middle of the night. This is the loudest sound that rabbits are capable of making and it can be quite jarring. Sometimes rabbits start thumping because they are scared. In these cases you’ll want to comfort your rabbit, even if it means getting up in the middle of the night.

However, sometimes rabbits learn that they can start thumping for attention. Rabbits who learn this might decide to thump loudly in the middle of the night until they get you to come over and pay attention to them. If you go over to your rabbit every time they have a thumping fit, you’ll be teaching them that they can get what they want by thumping loudly. The only way to get a rabbit to stop thumping is to stop giving them attention when they have their little tantrums. 

You’ll need to learn how to differentiate between the times your rabbit is thumping because they are scared and when they are thumping because they want attention.

Rabbits who are thumping out of fear will:

  • Have wide eyes
  • Have ears forward and alert
  • Have an alert body posture, posing on their toes and look ready to run away
  • Ignore you while they move from place to place trying to locate the danger
  • Thump multiple times, not stopping when you come close

Rabbits who are thumping for attention will:

  • Have ears back at an angle or up looking confident
  • Have a confident body posture
  • Usually thump only once to see if you react, then thump again if you don’t respond
  • Stop thumping once they get what they want (a treat, petting)

3. Give your rabbit lots of space

Rabbits who are kept in a cage that is too small for them are more likely to get upset and loud in the night. They might start to rattle the cage bars or try to dig into the bottom of the cage. Unfortunately this is a common problem among pet rabbits because the cages that are marketed for them are usually much too small.

A rabbit enclosure should be a minimum of 3-4 times the full length of the rabbit and 1-2 times their length in width. The size of the enclosure can vary a lot depending on the size of your rabbit, but usually a minimum of 2ft by 4ft.

If your rabbit’s current enclosure does meet these minimum requirements, then try going even bigger. Rabbits are pretty active animals and they need space to hop around even when it’s not exercise time. Without enough space, they are likely to feel irritated and bored, making them more likely to make noise at night to try to get out.

I always recommend getting a pet exercise pen and using that as your rabbit’s enclosure. These are much bigger than those marketed as ‘rabbit cages’ and they’re generally cheaper too (check the current price). If you already have a smaller cage for your rabbit, you can get one of these exercise pens and attach it around the entrance to more easily enlarge their space and help to prevent them from getting noisy in the middle of the night.

how to connect a playpen to a cage
If your cage is too small, attach a rabbit playpen to give your rabbit more space.

4. Provide your rabbit with a variety of quiet toys

It’s good to make sure your rabbit has a lot of fun toys to keep them occupied throughout the night. This can keep your rabbit from getting bored and throwing a tantrum with their food bowls. Some toys, however, are louder than others. It’s a good idea to give your rabbit specific toys that are quieter that they only get to play with at night. 

You’ll need to experiment with your own rabbit to see which toys end up making more noise. Typically you want to avoid something like a cardboard box that rabbits can loudly dig into, but smaller cardboard toilet paper tubes are usually okay. 

Hanging toys can make a lot of noise because they rattle against the side of the enclosure, but soft hay-based chew toys are often relatively quiet compared to other options.

My favorite place to get chew toys for my rabbit is Small Pet Select, and they have hay-based fidget sticks that are a lot of fun for rabbits but don’t make too much noise. (and if you use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout, you can get 15% off of your first order)

5. Help your rabbit feel safe

Rabbits that feel exposed or otherwise unsafe in their environment are less likely to settle down overnight. They might start thumping in the middle of the night because they feel scared, or try to dig or chew through the bars of their cage because they feel the need to escape to somewhere safe.

You can help your rabbit feel safe by giving them a hiding house or area in their enclosure where they can hide when they feel scared. Sometimes putting a blanket over a portion of the enclosure can also do the job. You can also help your rabbit feel safe in your room by avoiding any loud sounds or loud music. Keeping any other pets, such as household cats and dogs, out of the rabbit’s room is also best, especially at night.

6. Give your rabbit time to exercise before bed

If you make it a daily habit to give your rabbit ample time to exercise before you go to sleep, they’ll be a lot less likely to be overly energetic during the night. A couple hours before you go to bed, let your rabbit out of their enclosure and encourage them to get a lot of exercise. Over time your rabbit will get used to the routine of getting exercise in the evening and settling down until it’s time for breakfast in the morning.

Most of the time rabbits are automatically pretty active in the evenings and will be happy to zoom around the living room while you watch TV or read. If they need any extra encouragement, you can hide treats around the room for your rabbit to find or try training your rabbit to get them tired out.

rabbit hay toy
You can get fun toys for your rabbit where you can hide treats in a pile of hay. This will encourage your rabbit to munch on hay until they can get to the yummy treat.

7. Give your rabbit plenty of hay

One thing that rabbits can do to pass the time and prevent boredom is munch on something. Since it’s virtually impossible for rabbits to overeat hay (and it’s very good for their teeth), you can help your rabbit stay occupied by giving them a lot of hay to munch on. 

Hay is actually the most important part of a rabbits diet. In addition to keeping your rabbit occupied, it benefits their digestive system and helps in preventing illnesses such as GI Stasis. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your rabbit’s hay pile to make sure they never run out.

8. Give your rabbit lots of attention

Rabbits are social creatures, so they’ll need a lot of attention while you’re awake. They might be thumping and rattling the sides of the enclosure all night because they are lonely and bored and just want to spend more time with you. They get frustrated overnight and end up making noise to try to get your attention.  

To prevent this, spend as much time with your rabbit as you can during the day. The easiest way to do this is to treat your rabbit like a companion pet (like a cat or a dog). Let them out to spend time with you and the family during the day so they can hang out and socialize whenever they want. Then they won’t feel as frustrated at being left alone overnight because they were getting the attention they need.

Tips to help you sleep if your rabbit won’t stay quiet

Sometimes rabbits are stubborn and no matter what you do, your rabbit will not stay quiet overnight. Of course, it would be best if you could move your rabbit to another room in the home, but that’s not always possible. If the only choice is to house your rabbit in your bedroom, then you may have to make some external changes to prevent your rabbit’s noise from keeping you awake. Some environmental changes you can try include:

  • Use a white noise machine. You could also use the sound of a fan or some soft and relaxing music.
  • Wear ear plugs or headphones. You can get headphones that you wear with a headband to keep them on your head overnight.
  • Provide soft flooring to muffle their sounds. If the racing of your rabbits feet or their digging is keeping you up, make sure they have a soft flooring that won’t make much noise.
  • Place blankets over the bars of the enclosure. If your rabbit is keeping you up by rattling the sides of the enclosure, then place blankets over the fencing to keep your rabbit from making noise.

Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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