Do Rats Sleep with their Eyes Open

Sleep is an essential part of the daily cycle of life, and it is not only limited to humans, but animals also sleep. Rats are one of the most common rodents that are found worldwide, and they have been the subject of many myths and misconceptions over the years. One of the most common misconceptions is whether rats sleep with their eyes open. We will explore this myth and find out the truth behind it. The article explores the myth that rats sleep with their eyes open.

Anatomy of Rat Eyes

Before we dive into the topic, it is essential to understand the anatomy of rat eyes. Rats have small and beady eyes, and their vision is not as good as humans. Their eyes are placed on the sides of their heads, which gives them a wide field of view, but it also means they have poor depth perception.

Do Rats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Contrary to popular belief, rats do not sleep with their eyes open. Like most mammals, rats require a certain amount of sleep to function correctly. Rats have different sleep stages, which include rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. During REM sleep, rats experience muscle paralysis, and their eyes move rapidly. However, during NREM sleep, rats do not move, and their eyes are closed.

Why Do People Think Rats Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

The belief that rats sleep with their eyes open has been around for a long time, and it is not entirely clear where it comes from. One possible reason is that rats have a protective membrane called the nictitating membrane or third eyelid, which covers their eyes partially. This membrane helps rats to keep their eyes moist and protected while they are awake. When rats are asleep, this membrane may give the impression that they are sleeping with their eyes open.

How Much Do Rats Sleep?

Rats are nocturnal animals, which means they are active at night and sleep during the day. On average, rats sleep for around 12 to 14 hours a day, but this can vary depending on factors such as age, health, and environment.

Can Rats Sleep With One Eye Open?

While rats do not sleep with both eyes open, they can sleep with one eye open. Rats have the ability to keep one eye open and one eye closed while they sleep. This allows them to stay alert and aware of their surroundings, even while they are sleeping.

Is Sleeping with Their Eyes Open Safe for Rats?

Sleeping with their eyes open is a natural behavior for rats, and it is generally safe for them to do so. In fact, closing their eyes while sleeping can actually be a sign of illness or distress. However, there are some situations where sleeping with their eyes open can be harmful to rats. For example, if a rat is sleeping in an area with bright lights, it can cause eye strain and lead to health issues. It is also important to ensure that the rat’s sleeping area is free from drafts, as this can cause eye irritation and other health problems.

Do Rats Dream?

Like humans, rats also dream during their REM sleep stage. During this stage, rats show similar brain activity to humans, which suggests that they also experience dreams.

How do I know if my rat is sleeping?

Rats often sleep with their eyes closed and in a relaxed position. They may also twitch or make small noises during REM sleep. However, it’s best not to disturb them while they’re sleeping.

How long can rats go without sleep?

Rats can go without sleep for several days, but it can have detrimental effects on their health and behavior. Lack of sleep can cause irritability, hyperactivity, and a weakened immune system.


In conclusion, rats do not sleep with their eyes open. While they have a third eyelid that can partially cover their eyes, they still close their eyes during sleep. Rats need sleep to function correctly, and they go through different sleep stages like most mammals. Additionally, rats can sleep with one eye open to stay alert to their surroundings. Rats do not sleep with their eyes open, and this is a common misconception.  Rats need sleep to function correctly, and they go through different sleep stages, including REM and NREM sleep. They can sleep in various positions and dream like humans. Understanding rats’ sleep habits is crucial for their health and wellbeing, and it’s essential to provide them with a comfortable and safe sleeping environment. If you have any concerns about your rat’s sleeping habits, it’s best to consult a veterinarian.