The death of a beloved pet rabbit can be an extremely difficult experience, especially when its eyes remain open after passing. It’s a jarring and upsetting image that raises many questions for grieving owners.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: It’s common for rabbits to die with eyes open due to their anatomy. You can gently close your rabbit’s eyes and seek closure through burial rituals. Read on for more details on why this happens, what to do, and coping with the loss.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about rabbit death with eyes open, including the reasons behind it, how to handle the remains respectfully, and finding peace after the loss of your bunny friend.

Why Rabbits Die with Eyes Open

Rabbits are known for their adorable appearance and gentle nature, but it can be disconcerting to witness a rabbit’s death with its eyes open. This phenomenon is actually quite common in rabbits, and there are several reasons behind it.

Rabbit Anatomy Keeps Eyes Open

One of the main reasons why rabbits die with their eyes open is their unique anatomy. Unlike humans and many other animals, rabbits have a structure called the nictitating membrane, also known as the third eyelid.

This membrane helps protect their eyes from debris and can partially cover the eye even when they are sleeping or resting. Therefore, when a rabbit passes away, their eyes may remain partially or fully open due to the presence of this membrane.

Sudden Death and the Startle Response

Another reason why rabbits may die with their eyes open is related to the startle response. Rabbits have a highly sensitive nervous system, and sudden noises, movements, or stressors can trigger a strong startle response.

This response can lead to a condition known as “sudden death syndrome,” where the rabbit’s heart rate increases dramatically, resulting in a sudden cardiac arrest. In these cases, the rabbit may pass away with their eyes open due to the abruptness of the event.

Health Conditions May Be a Factor

In some cases, underlying health conditions may contribute to a rabbit’s death with their eyes open. Rabbits are susceptible to various illnesses and diseases, including heart disease, respiratory problems, and gastrointestinal issues.

These conditions can cause a sudden or gradual decline in the rabbit’s health, leading to their passing. In such cases, the rabbit’s eyes may remain open due to the strain put on their body by the illness.

It’s important to note that witnessing a rabbit’s death with their eyes open does not necessarily indicate anything unusual or alarming. It is a natural occurrence in many cases and can be attributed to the rabbit’s unique anatomy, the startle response, or underlying health conditions.

If you have concerns about your rabbit’s health or behavior, it is always recommended to consult a veterinarian for proper guidance and care.

How to Close a Rabbit’s Eyes After Death

Be Gentle When Handling Remains

When a beloved pet rabbit passes away, it is important to handle their remains with care and respect. One of the first steps in closing a rabbit’s eyes after death is to ensure that you approach the task with gentleness.

This not only shows your love and compassion for your furry friend, but it also helps to prevent any damage to the delicate eye area. Remember, even though your rabbit has passed, they still deserve to be treated with kindness and dignity.

Use Eye Drops to Moisten Eyes

After ensuring that you handle your rabbit’s remains gently, the next step is to use eye drops to moisten their eyes. It is not uncommon for a rabbit’s eyes to remain open after death, and using eye drops can help to close them more comfortably.

Eye drops can be purchased at most pet stores or pharmacies, and they are specifically designed for use in animals. A few drops in each eye can provide the necessary moisture to help close the eyelids gently. This step is important as it helps to maintain the natural appearance of your rabbit’s face.

Wrap the Body Respectfully

Once you have closed your rabbit’s eyes, it is important to wrap their body respectfully. This can be done by gently placing your rabbit in a soft cloth or a small blanket. The purpose of wrapping the body is to provide a sense of comfort and dignity, as well as to prevent any further movement or exposure.

Additionally, wrapping the body can also help to preserve the body’s temperature for a short period, allowing you more time to say your final goodbyes and make necessary arrangements.

Remember, losing a pet can be a difficult and emotional experience. Taking the time to close your rabbit’s eyes after death and wrapping their body respectfully can provide a sense of closure and allow you to honor their memory in a loving way.

Coping with Loss and Moving Forward

Experiencing the loss of a beloved pet can be a heartbreaking and challenging time. When your rabbit passes away with their eyes open, it can add an extra layer of distress and confusion. However, it’s important to remember that this is a natural occurrence and does not necessarily indicate any suffering on their part.

Here are some ways to cope with the loss and move forward:

Allow Yourself to Grieve

Grieving is a normal and healthy response to the loss of a pet. Take the time to acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to mourn. It’s okay to feel sadness, anger, or even guilt. Reach out to friends or family members who can provide emotional support during this difficult time.

Commemorate Your Pet’s Life

One way to honor your rabbit’s memory is by creating a special tribute. Consider making a photo album or scrapbook filled with pictures and happy memories. You could also create a memorial garden or plant a tree in their honor.

These gestures can provide comfort and serve as a reminder of the joy your pet brought into your life.

Consider Pet Bereavement Counseling

If you’re finding it difficult to cope with the loss on your own, seeking professional help can be beneficial. Pet bereavement counselors are trained to provide support and understanding during this challenging time.

They can help you navigate through your grief and provide coping strategies to help you heal.

Focus on Happy Memories

While it’s natural to feel sadness after losing a pet, try to focus on the happy memories you shared with your rabbit. Remind yourself of the joy they brought into your life and the special moments you shared together.

Surround yourself with positive reminders, such as photos or keepsakes, that bring a smile to your face.

Getting a New Rabbit

While getting a new rabbit may not be the right choice for everyone, some individuals find comfort in opening their hearts to a new pet. It’s important to give yourself time to grieve and heal before considering a new addition to your family.

When you feel ready, adopting a new rabbit can bring joy and love back into your life.

Remember, everyone copes with loss differently, so it’s important to find what works best for you. Allow yourself to grieve, honor your pet’s memory, seek support if needed, focus on happy memories, and when the time is right, consider opening your heart to a new furry friend.


The passing of a beloved rabbit is painful, especially with their eyes remaining creepily open. While the image is distressing, it’s a normal part of rabbit anatomy and death. With gentle handling, eye drops, and burial wraps, you can close your bunny’s eyes and say goodbye with dignity.

Remember to be kind to yourself while grieving. Cherish your memories together, memorialize your pet, and seek support. The rabbit loss will always be part of your story, but the pain will lessen in time. Focus on the joy your fluffy friend brought you, and their eyes will close happily in your heart.

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