Staring is very common in rabbits. It’s likely your rabbit stares at you out of love and happiness, but they could also be hungry, or confused. Rabbits also have a transparent eyelid that they use while they sleep, which may make it seem like they are staring.
A loving rabbit stare
Your rabbit could be staring at you out of love. If they are feeling fully relaxed, with no perceived threats, a rabbit will pass the time just gazing at you, fully content. You can tell this by their body language- if they are lying down with their legs tucked under their body.
Its common for rabbits to stare in this way- it’s how they pass the time with their mates in the wild. If two bonded bunnies share a burrow, they can spend hours just gazing at one another.
You can tell if they are showing affection from other behaviours as well. For example, they may run circles around your feet, making a cute honking sound as they move. This is a sign of love and excitement, and may be displayed when you return home after a long day, or when they are expecting a treat from you.
When they’re relaxed, as well as staring at you, they may ‘flop’. This action of throwing themselves onto their side may be startling, as it may seem like they’ve fainted. But this is actually a sign that they are fully relaxed, and that they trust you completely.
A hungry rabbit stare
Your rabbit may also be staring at you because they’re feeling hungry. Staring can be the first stage of begging, so they may be hoping you’ll notice their gaze and bring them some food.
You may want to wait a short while to make sure that they are actually begging. If it’s food they want, they’ll resort to placing their front paws onto your leg, in an attempt to get you’re attention.
If they are the less patient type, they may also nip you. Give them a piece of hay or fresh vegetable, and they’ll happily hop away.
A sleepy rabbit stare
It may actually be that you’re rabbit isn’t staring at you, and is in fact just sleeping.
Rabbits have an inner eyelid called a nictitating membrane. Like in many other prey species, this is used as a means of survival.
Rabbits, like humans, need about eight hours of sleep a day. In the wild, this can be dangerous for a rabbit- surrounded by predators, they are completely defenseless. The transparent nictitating membrane essentially allows them to sleep with their eyes open. Their eyes stay lubricated, but the rabbit’s brain is still receiving information from the eyes, allowing them to quickly spring into action if a predator approaches.
Even though there are (hopefully!) no predators in your house, your rabbit will still have this survival instinct. Since the membrane is clear, it looks like they’re sitting with their eyes wide open, but they may actually be sleeping.
Other reasons rabbits stare
If you have only just brought your rabbit into your home, they may still be weary of you. If they sit away from you and stare, they are figuring out if you’re a predator or not. After a little while, they’ll realise that you’re actually quite friendly.
Lastly, they could be trying to figure out something new. Rabbits have incredible senses, and a sound or smell from the distance could confuse them. They may just be trying to figure out their surroundings.
Animal–Club provides animal parties or animal handling workshop where your will be able to see, learn and interact with the rabbits and other wonderful animals with the help of our presenters. Our mobile zoo has many friendly animals such as hamsters, tarantulas, geckos, vinegaroons and more that will be perfect for an animal party. We can also come over to your school for an animal school visit or arrange for an animal workshop with us where the children can learn about animals and have fun too.