Some rabbits have red eyes due to a genetic condition called albinism. It is a common trait that can be passed on with breeding. These rabbits have very little or no pigment in their body. That is the reason why they often have white fur as well. Although red eyes can give these rabbits an evil appearance, but the truth is that they are actually bred to be more gentle than other rabbits with black or blue colored eyes!
Read on to learn more about red eyes in rabbits, albino rabbits as well as other eye colors in rabbits as well as the answer to various other questions related to the topic
What causes the red color in rabbit eyes?
Having red eyes is mostly observed in Albino rabbits. They are classified by the lack of pigments in their body. These pigments are similar to melanin in humans and help to add color to a rabbits fur and eyes.
The red color we see in an albino rabbit’s eye is actually just light reflecting off the back of their eyes much like cat’s eyes glowing in the dark.
The reason they appear red to us is the lack of a black pigment the back of their eyes. The black pigment, which is supposed to absorb excess light giving their eyes a black color, is missing in most albino rabbits.
Do all white rabbits have red eyes?
No, obviously there are plenty of white rabbits out there with other eye colors. It as has to do with their degree of albinism.
The genes that make rabbits eyes red are recessive. When a rabbit with red eyes are bred with a rabbit with black or brown eyes, the babies rarely get red eyes. Red eyes in rabbits is a rare occurrence naturally.
The few that have red eyes have been carefully bred to appear the way they do. It is said that past rabbit breeders considered rabbits with red eyes to be more docile in addition to being less aggressive.
However, there is very little science to back all of this up. That is why interacting with a rabbit is the preferred way to understand its temperament.
Which rabbit breeds can have red eyes?
Even though albinism in rabbits is quite rare, most if not all known pet rabbit breeds can have albino individuals in them. There are also breeds which were primarily bred to propagate albinism and red eyes.
Some of the breed that predominantly have red eyes are
Florida White Rabbits
Florida White rabbits are small rabbits, the are always white in color with no marks or spots. They can have pale pink to bright red eyes. Originally bred as a lab rabbit, they are very gentle and docile. The ideal first rabbits for most people.
New Zealand White Rabbits
Contrary to their name, New Zealand White Rabbits originated in America. They are a medium sized breed, available in five colors, white, red, black, blue and mixed.
White New Zealand rabbits are albino and have bright ruby red eyes. They were originally created for meat and fur but now they are prized as house rabbits for their gentle nature and ease of availability.
Also known as the Californian White, these rabbits are usually white with some black or grey patches on their mouth and ears. They primarily have bright red eyes due to albinism.
Often mistaken for the Californian Rabbits, Himalayan Rabbits are actually one of the most ancient rabbits that are still around. They medium sized, white colored and almost always have red eyes.
Their distinctive features are their cylindrical bodies and colored patches that exhibit their colors like black, blue, chocolate and lilac. When they are raised in extremely cold climates they may even grow some black fur all over.
Some other breeds that can have red eyes
Other breeds that can occasionally have red eyes are.
- Angora rabbits
- Britannia Pettite
- Flemish Giant
- Holland Lop
- Jersey Wooly
- Mini Lop
- Netherland Dwarf
- New Zealand
- Rex rabbits
- Satin Rabbits
Although individual rabbits can sometimes have red eyes withing these breeds, it is still very rare.
Is having red eyes harmful for rabbits?
Technically rabbits with red eyes are physiologically no different than the ones with black or blue eyes.
The only difference is the lack of pigment in albino rabbit’s retinas. While this difference does not cause any real harm, it could make their eyes more sensitive to bright sunlight.
Since excess sunlight cannot easily be absorbed by the pigments inside the rabbit’s eye, it tends to make the squint or flinch when it is bright outside. Indoor lighting should have no effect since it is far too weak.
If you house rabbits with red eyes outside then make sure they have plenty of shade so that they can easily protect their eyes from the sun.
Do rabbits with red eyes have poor eyesight?
All rabbits have poor eyesight to begin with. Bunnies have their eyes on either side of their heads, which means they can only see something with one eye at a time. It also creates a huge blind spot just in front of their faces.
This is why you will often see a rabbit moving their head back and forth as if they were trying to focus on something. They do this to gauge the distance of the object they are looking at.
Rabbit with red eyes usually have worse eyesight than ones with black or blue eyes. They usually have a harder time seeing clearly at some distance, but vision isn’t a rabbit’s strong suit anyway.
Instead, rabbits rely on their keen sense of smelling and hearing to navigate their environment. They are experts at listening into environmental sounds and search and identify their food with their nose.
They even use their whiskers to navigate their burrows, rabbits are well known for being able to dig intricate burrows in the wild with multiple openings to easily escape from predators.
Are there any wild rabbits with red eyes?
While it is possible for wild rabbits to carry the genes that cause albinism, it is incredibly rare for albino rabbits to survive in the wild into adulthood.
In the wild there are just too many predators that hunt down rabbits. Albino rabbits with their bright white fur and red eyes are an easy target.
They cannot easily camouflage themselves in their environment, plus they are often shunned from their nest at a very young age.
That is the reason why rabbits with red eyes are hardly ever seen in the wild.
What other eye color can rabbits have?
Most rabbits naturally have black or brown eyes. As we learned previously, the color of a rabbit’s eye is dictated by the presence of certain pigments in their retinas.
The most common eye colors are
Black – The most common eye color found in rabbits with full pigmentation.
Brown – Similar to black eyes, brown eyes in rabbits are very common as well.
Blue – Quite rare but some rabbits can have blue grey eyes that look very beautiful.
Red – Rare and quite desirable, is caused due to albinism in rabbits.
Pink – A mix of red and brown eyes. Pink eyes in rabbits are incredibly rare.
Marbled – When a rabbits has two or more distinct colors in their eyes.
What else can causes red eyes in rabbits?
Albino rabbits have a red eyes naturally, but there are other reasons why a rabbit may have redness in their eyes. The most common reason for rabbits to get red eyes is an infection in the eyes.
Quite similar to pink eye in humans, red eyes in non albino rabbits may be a sign of infection, the red color comes from inflamed blood vessels in the bunny’s eyes.
This is usually accompanied with pain, swelling, irritation and teary eyes in rabbits. Some common causes of red eye disease are
- Overgrown teeth
- Bacterial infections
- Fungal infections
- Dust or other particles in the eye
- Eye getting poked or scratched
If your bunny is showing signs or red eyes, please make sure to consult a vet as soon as possible. Infections of the eye can be very dangerous for pet rabbits and should be treated as soon as possible.
So now you know why some rabbits have red eyes and others do not. I hope you have found this article to be informative. If so then please share it with your friends. We also have a wonder pin for you to share as well.
Also, check out some of our other articles related to bunny rabbits.
- Top 10 Things To Keep In Mind Before Getting A Pet Rabbit
- 10 DIY Rabbit Toys Made From Household Items
- Rabbit Behavior & Body Language Cheat Sheet For Beginners
See you next time.. Bye!