Why Does My Rabbit Lay Down All the Time?


why is my rabbit laying down all the time?

It’s natural to be worried about your little bunny. If they’re sleeping all the time you’ll obviously wonder if they are all right. In most cases, you have nothing to worry about. Rabbits do sleep a lot, especially in the middle of the day.

It’s normal for rabbits to take frequent naps, especially during the day and when the weather is hot. If your rabbit is showing less activity than normal or never gets up to hop around, they may be suffering from depression or an underlying health condition.

The trick to figuring out if your rabbit’s behavior is normal or not is by looking for a change in their behavior. If they are normally active in the morning when you get up, but today they don’t seem to want to move, then that may be a symptom of a more serious illness. However, it’s not at all unusual for rabbits to nap through the entire afternoon. Here, you’ll learn what’s normal and what signs would indicate that your rabbit is sick and needs the professional help of a veterinarian.


Important: This post contains affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.


What are normal levels of activity for rabbits?

While rabbits are very playful pets, they are not going to be active all the time. It’s normal for rabbits to take extended naps. Pet rabbits will often sleep for 11 to 12 hours every day, but they don’t get their sleep in one single chunk of time. They will take long and short naps all through the day and night interspersed with periods of activity.

Even when rabbits are awake, they are not active the entire time. Rabbits like to lay down and relax, observing their environment from a comfortable perch. As long as your rabbit is getting up occasionally to eat, play, and socialize with you (or other rabbit friends), laying down and sleeping a lot is completely normal.

There are, of course, many factors that determine how active your rabbit will be. The time of day, temperature, and age of the rabbit can all have pretty drastic effects on their overall activity levels. It’s important to take all of these into account before you worry that your rabbit is laying down too much.

It’s also pretty normal for rabbits to have some days where they are active and somewhere they prefer to lay around. As long as they are still eating, using their litter box, and showing some level of activity, one off-day is nothing to worry about. However, if your rabbit has a permanent decrease in energy that is not explained by age or temperature, you may want to look into changing your rabbit’s environment or seeking medical advice.

rabbit sleeping positions
Rabbits mainly sleep on one of these three positions. They often sleep with their eyes open too.

Laying down is (usually) a sign of a comfortable rabbit

Most of the time when a rabbit is laying down, it’s actually a sign of relaxed body language. It means that your rabbit feels safe and comfortable in their environment. This is especially true if your rabbit is sprawled with their back legs stretched out or flopped over on their side. But, even a rabbit who chooses to settle into a loaf position is generally feeling quite comfortable and content.

Laying down next to you is a compliment in rabbit body language too. It’s a sign of affection since rabbits usually won’t sit next to someone unless they really like you.

What you want to look out for in rabbit behavior is constantly changing the position they’re laying in. This is a sign that something might be bothering your rabbit or they might be feeling some gastrointestinal discomfort.

Time of day and rabbit activity levels

Rabbits are not nocturnal, but they are crepuscular animals. This means that they are most active in the mornings and the evenings. It’s pretty normal for rabbits to sleep through the middle of the day and the middle of the night. However, around dawn and dusk they tend to be more active and take shorter naps.

Rabbits are less active when it’s hot

Rabbits also do not like hot temperatures. Ideal temperatures for rabbits are in the 50ºF – 70ºF range. Hotter than that and rabbits will be noticeably less active. You may even find that their activity periods are shifting more into the middle of the night when the weather is a little cooler.

Because rabbits tend to have dense coats, temperatures that are too hot can actually be dangerous for them. Rabbits kept in temperatures over 80º or in direct sunlight have an increased risk of developing heat stroke. It’s always best to make sure your rabbit has cool places to shelter during the day.

How age affects activity levels in rabbits

Age is another factor in rabbit activity levels. As you might expect, young rabbits have a lot more energy than elderly rabbits. If you bring home a rabbit who is only a year old, they will be very active and take much shorter naps throughout the day while they explore and play more.

By the time rabbits are two years old, most will start to calm down quite a bit. They won’t have quite as much baby energy, and you’ll find them laying around more often. As rabbits reach old age (typically by 8 years or so), they will slow down even more and you’ll notice them laying around for the majority of the day. That’s normal behavior and is just part of the aging process for rabbits.

rabbit in a small cage
Rabbits can get bored and grumpy if they’re left in a small cage all day with nothing to do.

Boredom in rabbits

If your rabbit is laying around all the time and it doesn’t seem to be because of the reasons mentioned above, it’s possible that they are bored. Rabbits that don’t get enough to play with, places to explore, or attention, might end up sleeping all day because they have nothing else to do. In this case, you want to make some changes to your rabbit’s environment so that they will stay interested in daily life.

How to improve your rabbit’s environment:

  • Give your rabbit more space. Rabbits need a large amount of living and exercise space to maintain their happiness. I recommend getting a pet exercise pen instead of a traditional rabbit cage. It’s also best to let your rabbit out for exercise for multiple hours a day, especially in the mornings and evenings.
  • Occasionally rearrange the furniture or habitat accessories. Even small changes to a room can be exploration opportunities for rabbits. It can immediately renew their interest in their surrounding environment.
  • Find different kinds of toys. Rabbits can be pretty picky about their toys, so trying out a variety of different kinds will help figure out what your rabbit likes best. I recommend the natural hay-based toys from Small Pet Select, since those are the ones my rabbits like best. (and you can use code BUNNYLADY at checkout for 15% off your order)
  • Give your rabbit more attention or get them a friend. Rabbits are social creatures and need a lot of attention to stay happy. Make sure to spend some time with your rabbit on a daily basis. If you’re not able to, it might be time to consider bonding them with a second rabbit.
hunched rabbit sitting position
A rabbit in a hunched position will use their front paws to keep from pressing their belly against the ground.

Health-related reasons your rabbit might be inactive

Most of the time, a rabbit who lays around a lot is nothing to be concerned about. However, there are some occasions when a rabbit is lethargic and should see a veterinarian. Generally, the sign of illness will be when you see a sudden change in their behavior. Some clues that you’ll notice include if they are suddenly sitting in a strange place or position, or they won’t get up and play even when you offer their favorite treat or toy.

Health-related reasons for inactivity in rabbits:

  • Sudden health conditions: There are some health conditions that come on suddenly and need immediate medical attention (such as GI Stasis). Your rabbit may have suddenly lost their appetite, and they’ll be sitting in a strange hunched position or pressing their belly against the ground. If your rabbit has not been eating or pooping for 10 hours, this is an emergency and you should see a veterinarian immediately.
  • Underlying health conditions. Sometimes rabbits develop underlying health conditions that will slowly affect your rabbit so they are not as active as they used to be. It’s a good idea to get your rabbit checked out if they have an unexplained lack of energy.
  • Depression. If your rabbit has been bored or lonely for an extended period of time, they run the risk of falling into a chronic depression. Learn more about the symptoms of depression in rabbits.

Sources:

  1. R.T. Pivik, F.W. Bylsma, P. Cooper. “Sleep—Wakefulness Rhythms in the Rabbit.” Behavioral and Neural Biology Vol. 45 Iss. 3. May 1986. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0163104786800164?via%3Dihub.

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Important: These are Affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases.

The two brands that I use when buying food for my rabbit are Oxbow and Small Pet Select. These both have high quality rabbit products and are companies that care about the health of our small animals. If you are purchasing anything from Small Pet Select use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout to get 15% off your first order.

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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