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In a word, no.
There’s no reason why you should need to cover your rabbit’s cage at night.
I’ll go through a list of reasons why you might want to cover your rabbits up at night, and then kind of debunk them. Then we’ll cover why it’s not a great idea, and what to do instead? Cool? Cool.
Why you might want to cover your rabbit’s cage at night
To make them feel safer
If you have a very nervous or skittish bun, it makes sense that you’d want to help them feel as safe as possible, and one way would be to make them a cosy space.
But rabbits are crepuscular – they’re most active at dusk and dawn and sleep the rest of the time. They don’t go to bed at night any more than they go to bed during the day.
In short, covering their cage at night makes you feel better, but the rabbit is unlikely to care.
Instead, ensure they have somewhere to hide all the time, that’s pretty dark. I tend to go for the cheap and cheerful (and chewable) cardboard box.
Don’t have one? Ask at your local supermarket – I’m sure they’ll have a box kicking around that’ll be gladly received by your bunny.
To keep them warm
Rabbits don’t actually like to be that warm. Chances are, if your house is warm enough for you with a duvet, it’ll be warm enough for your rabbit in their fur coat.
If you’re worried that your rabbit is cold, again, a box is your best friend. Fill it with hay and your bunny can snuggle down if they desire.
I wrote a whole post on bunnies and blankets and whilst mine have always appreciated a blanket, they prefer to dig in and pee on them rather than cuddle up with them.
The best way to keep bunnies warm is to give them another bunny to snuggle with, but I get that that isn’t always possible, so a box may be your best bet.
If you’re wondering how to tell if your rabbit is cold, it’s pretty difficult. Since rabbits in the wild can live in below-zero climates, it’d have to be very cold before it had a negative impact on your bun.
Summer is a far more dangerous time of year temperature-wise than winter.
I have noticed that a bun’s first line of defence again chilly weather is to puff up. It’s adorable.
Just make sure they have a couple of hidey holes to hunker down in and they’ll be fine.
It’s more natural
Putting a blanket over a cage won’t make your rabbit feel more like a rabbit. They don’t think like that. Besides, no one puts a blanket over a rabbit’s burro in the wild.
Someone told you to
Putting a blanket over a rabbit’s pen at night is very common advice.
I have no idea where it came from, but I assume it harks back to the days when people kept bunnies outside, and they needed to protect them from the elements and predators at night.
If the elements and predators are getting into your house, I would address that first rather than just slinging a blanket over the rabbit (though if you have a broken window or such, a blanket may be a good idea).
Why it isn’t a good idea to cover your rabbit’s cage at night
It makes ’em mad
Rabbit’s have a tendency to assume that everything they can see is theirs. That’s why they don’t understand why you’re so mad when they’re chewed the corner of your sofa.
From a safety point of view, your rabbit won’t like having their view of their territory compromised by a blanket. Not only can they not see any new rabbits encroaching on their turf, but they can’t see any predators.
Now, I know, and you know, that there aren’t going to be any predators in your third storey flat. But your rabbit doesn’t know that.
Basically, you’re blocking their view, and they mad.
It can be bad for their respiratory system
On a slightly more serious note, you’re limiting their air circulation.
That isn’t a big deal if you have a big pen, but if your rabbit’s space is less than optimal then you’re risking their delicate respiratory system.
This is especially important if the hay you get is dusty. Happens to the best of us – some hay is just dustier than others.
Rabbits can’t see in the dark
Some mammals (like cats) have a layer of tissue in their eye called the tapetum lucidum that helps them see on the dark (it’s basically a reflector to increase any light).
Rabbits don’t have one.
I mean, why would they?
Wild rabbits tend to return to their burrows at night, since things like foxes and owls and cats are abroad.
If you live in a town, there’s probably some light at night – enough that your rabbit can navigate around and get a drink etc. I leave the curtains (apart from in the dead of winter) so the rabbits are in total blackness.
Adding a blanket into the mix just seems like an extra step in hindering your rabbit getting around at night.
I’m not saying that you should leave a light on or anything. Most rabbits are more than happy to bumble about at night in the dark. But they don’t need a dark room to get a good night’s sleep.
There have been a few reports of rabbits that are scared of the dark, and it makes sense. The dark is scary if you’re a prey animal.
You can leave a night light on for them if you wish, but I think ensuring that they have a hidey-hole, litter tray, and water all close to one another and easy to navigate should be fine.
I’m sure there are legitimate reasons for wanting to cover your rabbit’s cage, but it’s not necessary or even advisable.
In fact, I think the only really good reason for wanting cover up your rabbit is that there’s a wasp in the room and you can’t get it out.
Even then, I’d probs just remove the rabbit and they’d have to sleep in my room until the wasp left.