juvenile roan blaze rat sleeping

Do Rats Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

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Do Rats Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Sleeping rat has its eyes closed. Sometimes, rats will sleep with their eyes open; but it isn't very common. Photo Credit: Starsandspirals via Flickr
Sleeping rat has its eyes closed. Sometimes, rats will sleep with their eyes open; but it isn’t very common. Photo Credit: Starsandspirals via Flickr

Whether you believe it or not, rats can in fact sleep with their eyes open. It might be one of the creepiest things an owner will ever see. The ratty’s owner might actually think that their rat is potentially dead. In a panic, the owner will go running to the cage, yelling the rat’s name over and over. As the rat fails to respond, the owner may begin smacking the cage to create more noise in an effort to wake up the rat. Then, when the owner finally reaches into the cage to grab the rat, it wakes up in a confused, half asleep daze; oh, the joys of being a rat parent!

Normally, Rats Sleep With Their Eyes Closed

Usually, a rat will sleep with its eyes closed just as you would expect it to. Rat eyes, just like  human eyes, are very sensitive and require plenty of hydration and lubrication. The rat’s eyelids are responsible for keeping the eye from becoming dry. Sleeping with closed eyes keeps the eye ball from becoming dried out, while also protecting it from foreign objects during sleep.

Why Would a Rat Sleep with Its Eyes Open?

You know, I honestly believe that rats are just trying to mess with us with they sleep with their eyes open! In all seriousness though, they could be deep within REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During REM sleep, the animal will be so deep into an unconscious state that it will not recognize light or movement while the eyes are open. Thus, they will not wake up and close them. Only when the eye becomes uncomfortable will it close. Should the eye open during this deep sleep, it is likely to remain open for a long period of time; thus resembling a dead rat.

Can Rats Open and Close Their Eyes While Sleeping?

Rats can most definitely open and close their eyes as they sleep. Much like humans, they can open and close when there are disruptions in the environment. This doesn’t necessarily mean the animal wakes up. A great example would be any time you’ve held a conversation with a friend who was awoke for a very brief moment, then fell back asleep. If they do not remember the conversation at all, it is likely that they were not actually awake for it.

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