Why Rabbits Have Red Eyes? (All You Need To Know)

With their lovely appearances and distinctive traits, rabbits have always captured our attention. Their eyes are one of its most interesting attributes. While soft brown or startling blue eyes are the colours we typically associate with rabbits, there is an interesting phenomenon that has many people wondering, why do some rabbits have red eyes? What causes rabbits to have red eyes? Are red eyes common traits in rabbits? Let’s find out all the answers in this article.

Rabbits have red eyes due to genetic traits, which means they are albino rabbits. However, visible blood vessels, eye infections, reflective layers, or underlying health issues can also be causes of red eyes in rabbits. Consider taking your pet to a vet after observing any symptoms of health issues.

This article will briefly discuss why rabbits have red eyes, are all rabbit breeds prone to red eyes, are red-eyed rabbits more susceptible to certain diseases or conditions, and many more. So, let’s get into it.

Why does my rabbit have red eyes?

Your rabbit probably has albinism, an inherited condition that changes pigmentation, if it is entirely white and has pinkish-red eyes.

Albinized rabbits lack melanin, which gives their fur, skin, and eyes colour.

Without melanin, the eyes seem red or pink because the blood vessels there are more noticeable. 

The New Zealand White breed of rabbit, which has completely white hair and pinkish-red eyes, is prone to albinism.

However, a luminous layer termed the tapetum lucidum is also found behind the eyeballs of rabbits. 

Their night vision is improved by the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light through the retina.

The tapetum lucidum of rabbits with lighter eye colours, such as blue or grey, can reflect light alternatively, giving the appearance that their eyes are red under certain lighting situations. 

This occurrence occurs similarly to the “red-eye effect” in flash photography.

Rabbits’ red eyes may also indicate irritation or inflammation of the eye. 

The condition of conjunctivitis, also called “pink eye,” can make the blood vessels in the eyes dilated and more noticeable, giving them a red colour. 

In addition, red eyes in rabbits can occasionally be brought on by underlying medical diseases such as infections or dental problems. 

Routine veterinarian examinations are crucial to find and solve these issues.

What causes rabbits to have red eyes?

Many factors, such as heredity, pigmentation, and underlying medical disorders, can cause red eyes in rabbits. 

A thorough discussion of these causes is provided here:

1) Albinism: 

Melanin, which gives their fur, skin, and eyes colour, is produced in certain hereditary conditions such as albinism that interfere with this process.

Lack of melanin in albino rabbits results in their fur appearing white or very light-coloured, and their eyes appearing red or pink. 

The New Zealand White and Himalayan are two kinds of rabbits that are frequently known to have albinism.

2) Blood Vessel Visibility:

The shape and structure of a rabbit’s eyes can also affect how red they seem. 

Due to their transparent or barely pigmented eye tissues, rabbits’ large blood vessels on the surface of their eyes may be easier to see. 

The blood vessels in the eyes may react with light to produce a reddish or pinkish hue, especially observed in lighter-coloured rabbit eyes.

3) Reflective Layer: 

Like many other animals, rabbits have a unique layer behind their retinas named tapetum lucidum. 

They can see better in the dark thanks to this layer’s reflection of light.

The tapetum lucidum of some rabbits with light-coloured eyes, such as blue or grey, reflects light differently, giving the appearance of red eyes in certain lighting circumstances.

4) Eye Irritation or Inflammation: 

Redness in the eyes can occasionally occur in rabbits due to eye issues. 

Like human beings, rabbits can develop allergies, infections, or irritants in their eyes. 

The blood vessels in rabbits’ eyes might become more noticeable when they are irritated or inflamed, giving the appearance that they are red.

It may indicate an eye infection or discomfort if your rabbit has red eyes, discharge, or squinting. 

It’s crucial to take them to a vet so they can receive the right care.

5) Health Conditions: 

Red eyes may occasionally be a sign of underlying medical problems. 

Pain and inflammation from dental issues, such as teeth that are misaligned may appear as redness in the eyes. 

In addition, redness in the eyes can also result from specific infections.

It is best to have your rabbit’s eyes examined by a veterinarian if they are continuously red, exhibit signs of pain, or have other health issues. 

If any underlying medical disorders are causing the red eyes, they can identify them.

Are red eyes a common trait in rabbits?

Red eyes are not a common trait in rabbits.

Usually, the eyes of rabbits range in colour from blue-grey to brown or even black.

Rabbits with red eyes are relatively uncommon and typically have certain medical issues or genetic traits. 

Albinism, as previously mentioned, is one of the primary causes of red eyes in rabbits. 

Because of their distinct genetic composition, white rabbits have red or pink eyes. 

It’s vital to remember that most rabbits do not have red eyes. 

If your rabbit has red eyes, it can be an unusual and uncommon occurrence or it might be brought on by particular genetic or medical conditions. 

And it is always better to visit a veterinarian for thorough advice and evaluation if you have any concerns about your rabbit’s eye colour or general health.

Are all rabbit breeds prone to red eyes?

Every breed of rabbits has different eye colours, and not all rabbit breeds have red eyes.

Eye colours in the majority of rabbit breeds range from brown to blue-grey to black. 

However, due to certain hereditary characteristics, some particular rabbit breeds are more likely to display red eyes. 

Albinism, a hereditary disorder that results in a deficiency of melanin, the pigment responsible for eye colour, is more common in some breeds of rabbits.

In addition, albino rabbits’ eyes are pinkish-red or bright red because they lack melanin.

Breeds of albino rabbits include the English Angora, Florida White, and New Zealand White.

Similarly, there are a few rabbit breeds that, despite not being albinos, have a gene that makes their eyes appear red. 

Typically known as red-eyed whites, their eye colour is caused by a gene that does not affect albinism and is found in breeds including the Britannia Petite, Beveren, and Checkered Giant.

In addition, the Britannia Petite breed is well-known for its small size and eye colour, which is red-pinkish in colour. 

Are there any other eye colours found in Rabbits?

Rabbits have a variety of eye colours in addition to red. 

Their eyes can be any colour—from brown to blue-grey, black, or even a mix of colours—and can vary from breed to breed. 

Individual breeds and even litters of the same breed might have different eye colours.

Additionally, as rabbits mature and expand, their eye colours might change. 

Some rabbits may be born with one colour of eyes and change those colours as they become mature or old.

Genetics is the main factor influencing eye colour, and various breeds exhibit certain features related to eye colour. 

Individual diversity, nevertheless, can also exist within breeds.

Here are a few eye colours that are found in different rabbit breeds:

  1. Grey: Rabbits frequently have grey eyes as well. They can be any shade of grey, from light to dark, with varying amounts of blue or green. For example, the Silver Fox, Rex, and Flemish Giant.
  2. Black: Some rabbits have bright, glossy eyes that are a deep shade of black. Because the iris contains a lot of melanin, the eyes seem black. Black eyes are possible in breeds including the Satin, Harlequin, and Californian.
  3. Brown: Rabbits frequently have brown eyes. It can range from mild to dark brown in hue. Brown eyes are common in many rabbit breeds, such as the Dutch, Mini Rex and Netherland Dwarf.
  4. Hazel: Brown and greenish tones combine to make the hazel eyes of rabbits. The eyes could appear amber or golden. Breeds like the Jersey Wooly and Lionhead often have these eye colours.
  5. Blue: Another eye colour frequently seen in rabbits is blue. Reduced iris pigmentation, which results in blue colour, gives rabbits’ blue eyes their distinctive colour. Blue eyes are common in breeds including, the Himalayan, Havana, and Vienna.

Are red-eyed rabbits more susceptible to certain diseases or conditions?

Red-eyed rabbits, also known as albino rabbits, can be susceptible to certain conditions and diseases.

Due to their lack of melanin, albino rabbits may also be more prone to some health issues, including those that affect their skin, eyes and general sensitivity to environmental conditions.

Here is the detailed explanation below:

1) Sunburn and Skin Cancer: 

Albino rabbits are more prone to UV rays of the sun that could harm them.

They are more prone to sunlight which causes sunburns and have a higher risk of developing skin cancer due to the absence of melanin in the rabbit’s skin.

When albino rabbits are outdoors, it’s essential to provide a shelter to cover them, provide a UV-protected environment to avoid sunburn and lower the risk of skin cancer.

Also read: Do Rabbits Need Sunlight?

2) Increased Sensitivity to Temperature: 

Albino rabbits must have access to environments with suitable temperature regulation, including cool spaces in the summer and warm shelters in the winter.

Albino rabbits have less protection from severe temperatures because they lack melanin. 

They might be more sensitive to both heat and cold, which might have an impact on their general health and put them at risk for hypothermia or heat stroke.

Also read: Can Rabbits Be In Air Conditioning?

3) Eye Sensitivity:

White rabbits should be kept indoors and given access to shade to protect their eyes from excessive sunshine and intense light sources.

The absence of pigment in the rabbit’s eyes causes white rabbits to be more sensitive to sunlight. 

In addition, their eyes are more susceptible to harm from intense light, such as sunshine and artificial lighting, due to a lack of melanin. 

This can result in ailments like high light sensitivity (photophobia ) and an increased risk of eye infections.

4) Increased Vulnerability to Predators: 

Due to a lack of camouflage, albino rabbits can be easier prey for predators to spot. 

Albino rabbits should be protected and kept in safe environments, which should include protective cages and limiting exposure to potential predators.

They may stand out in their natural surroundings because of their shining white coats and bright red eyes, which increases their vulnerability to predators.

Also read: Can I Let My Rabbit Play Outside?

5) Increased Susceptibility to Eye Infections:

Compared to rabbits with normal pigmentation, albino rabbits can be at an increased risk of having eye infections. 

A lack of melanin can compromise the tissues of the eyes, making them more prone to infection by bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

In addition, albino rabbits require routine veterinarian examinations and appropriate eye care to identify and treat eye infections early on or prevent them altogether.

They can enjoy a decent quality of life with regular veterinarian care, suitable environmental circumstances, and careful care.

Also read: Are Air Purifiers Safe For Rabbits?


  1. Albinism, a condition where rabbits lack melanin pigment, can cause red eyes.
  2. Red eyes can be found in some rabbit breeds, including the New Zealand White and Britannia Petite.
  3. Red eyes in rabbits can also be caused by infections, inflammation, or eye discomfort.
  4. In certain lighting situations, the tapetum lucidum, a reflective layer behind a rabbit’s retina, can make some rabbits with light-coloured eyes look red.
  5. Although red eyes in rabbits are not frequent, it is nevertheless vital to keep an eye on their eye health and seek veterinarian care if there are any worries or comorbid symptoms.

Reference: NCBI, NCBI

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