Just like humans, rabbits have a body clock. By the time the evening arrives, most pet rabbits are as tired as us. Rabbits enjoy relaxing with their owners, and it often looks like a rabbit is watching TV.
Your rabbit will watch TV. Rabbits enjoy moving images and noises, so television provides mental stimulation. Just be mindful of the volume. Rabbits have excellent hearing, so a loud TV can hurt their ears.
You can leave the TV on while out. This way, your rabbit will some ‘company.’ But television is no substitute for personal attention, so you should never ignore your pet just because the TV is on.
Do Rabbits Watch Television?
Rabbits often approach their owners while they are watching television. The behavior is most common at night, but it could happen at any time of day.
Rabbits enjoy relaxing in human company. While watching television, a human is typically tranquil. This means that a rabbit can doze at our side, or better yet, enjoy petting.
When your rabbit climbs into your lap, you ‘ll likely pet her without thinking. This creates an association in your rabbit’s mind. If you switch on the TV, it equals attention for her.
Rabbits also enjoy the act of watching television. It will look like your rabbit is transfixed by your favorite shows. In many respects, she is.
Rabbits do not understand the dialogue or narrative of a TV program. Their brains are just stimulated by the combination of sound and vision. A rabbit slips into a trance-like state when watching the right TV show.
What Do Rabbits Like to Watch on TV?
Rabbits have favorite styles of shows and programs. A rabbit will enjoy anything that meets the stimulation criteria. The ideal TV show for a rabbit will:
- Display bright and colorful images
- Be filled with moving images
- Contain noise, but not too many loud, sudden noises
The combination of sight and sound will transfix a rabbit. If the program contains music, even better. Rabbits learn to recognize music. If a favorite song starts to play, your rabbit will respond.
This could also lead to your rabbit developing a favorite show. If a program fascinates your pet, she may remember the theme tune. Your pet will approach the TV upon hearing this music in the future.
As Molecular Biology and Evolution explains, rabbits have limited color vision. TV shows with bright and varied color palates attract rabbits. Static images will be dull. Chat shows, the news, or soap operas are unlikely to garner a response. Favored programming includes:
- Sports events (i.e. basketball or soccer games)
- Music videos
- Action movies
Be mindful of volume. The large ears of a rabbit are sensitive. Loud, unexpected noises will frighten your pet or cause a heart attack. Wear headphones if watching television with your rabbit.
Will a Rabbit by Scared by Images on TV?
If your rabbit detects a predator, she will be instantly afraid. This could be the case with images on television. A snake on screen, for example, may provoke a fear response in rabbits.
Even if a rabbit has never seen a snake, she is hardwired to instinctively fear it. The same goes for anything with sharp teeth. Sounds will also lead to a reaction. The sound of a bird of prey may cause a rabbit to flee to her hutch.
Nature documentaries are fascinating, but terrifying, for rabbits. Your pet will enjoy watching animals that move and behave in similar ways to her. Sights and sounds of predators will cause anxiety.
Developmental Psychobiology provides a solution in the form of exposure therapy. Baby rabbits that are handled by humans will not fear humans as adults. The same applies to the television for your rabbit.
Over time, your pet will realize that static images cannot harm her. Do not force your rabbit to watch. If she is transfixed but frightened, allow her to continue viewing. Reassure her that she’s safe.
Be mindful of your own reaction to images on screen too. Rabbits are intuitive to human emotions. If you are frightened by a horror movie, for example, your heart rate will increase. Your rabbit will then become alert. She will assume you are both in danger.
How Much TV is Safe for Rabbits?
The attention span of a rabbit is short. Before long, the flashing images and noises emanating from a TV will grow dull. Your pet will look for something else to do. Most rabbits will limit TV time to an hour or two in the evening.
A rabbit should not seek out screen time during the day. If your pet wants to lounge on the sofa instead of exercise, this is a concern.
Television is not a replacement for attention for rabbits. If your pet stares at the screen all day, she is not engrossed in a show. Her lethargy is a symptom of physical illness or depression.
Your rabbit will also need regular breaks from the screen. It’s easy for a rabbit to become overstimulated. Too much noise or vision can elevate a rabbit’s heart rate. As Plos One explains, this leaves your pet at risk. She may experience a stroke.
My Rabbit Hates TV
Not all rabbits enjoy television. For a nervous rabbit, television is a source of anxiety. Your pet does not understand what a TV is. She just knows that it makes loud noises. Alternatively, your rabbit may feel that TV time means she receives no attention.
If your rabbit has a firm distaste for TV, it will be reflected in her body language. She will turn her back on the screen and fold her ears down. This is sending a message. It means, “I cannot see or hear the television. It does not exist to me.”
It’s unrealistic to expect you never to watch TV. You cannot neglect your rabbit either. You need to forge positive associations in your rabbit’s mind. Achieve this by getting your pet into a routine:
- Before letting your rabbit out of her hutch in the evening, feed her.
- Release your rabbit and play with her on the ground.
- After a playtime, take your preferred evening seat. Invite your rabbit to join you.
- Pet and groom your rabbit on your lap. Wait for her to start purring.
- Turn on the TV – at low volume – while still petting and grooming.
Eventually, your rabbit will stop fearing the television. She will consider TV time to be social interaction time. This will become the highlight of your rabbit’s day.
My Rabbit Bites Me While I Watch TV
Rabbits are interested in TV, but only for a while. Rabbits will not tolerate being ignored. If you are too engrossed in TV to pet your rabbit, she will react.
Biting is always the last resort of a rabbit. Acknowledge earlier, more subtle requests for attention, and your rabbit will not bite. These include:
- Digging in your lap
- Circling at your feet
Your pet will not have a problem with you watching TV. She will likely join in, if she has had enough exercise. You may be expected to pet and groom her at the same time, though.