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16 Weird Sleeping Habits in The Animal World

16 Weird Sleeping Habits in The Animal World

Almost all animals need to sleep. But some creatures fulfill this need in very unusual and interesting ways. Starting from those who sleep 20 hours a day and ending with those who doze only half the brain, below we have collected the most unusual ways of sleeping among the animal kingdom.

16 Weird Sleeping Habits in The Animal World


According to a new study, elephants in the wild sleep only two hours a day. And this is not a continuous dream, it happens jerky for several hours. Although, in their case, they could afford more without worrying about attacks by predators. To obtain this information, scientists from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, attached motion sensors and small monitors to two female elephants and recorded their activity for a month.

Mostly animals slept standing but sometimes lay down. They did not choose a place to sleep, and their level of activity during the day did not seem to affect how long they dozed. Such conclusions were reached by specialists whose study was published in the journal Plos One.

The title of the study asks whether the information received indicates that elephants have the shortest sleep cycle among mammals. However, there is healthy competition from wild giraffes.

How animals sleep


In the wild, these bulky giants can do without sleep for weeks, although they use this feature of their own when necessary. Being large and slow, they are constantly on guard, as they fear predators.

When they put off their sleep, they have to stand on their lanky feet all the time, which, after a certain amount of time, can no longer help them in the face of an attack. Interestingly, they can sleep for five minutes at a time, for a total of “typing” per day for about half an hour. According to the authors of the study, who worked with elephants, in captivity, giraffes sleep 4-5 hours a day.

Sperm whales

In 2008, a team of specialists studied the behavior and sounds made by sperm whales off the coast of Chile. Then they made an amazing discovery: a company of several sperm whales slept so soundly in the water that none of them saw or heard the approaching boat.

Although these largest toothed whales sleep in one hemisphere, while the other half of the brain is awake, they sleep very soundly. The whales upright swayed in the water, some plunged completely into the water, others only stuck out their noses. This happened until a small boat accidentally came across one of the noses. This woke the animals, and everyone sailed away.

Based on this, the researchers suggested that sperm whales are really completely immersed in sleep, at a time for 10-15 minutes. They do not breathe during sleep.

Animal habits of sleep


Researchers at Indiana State University were filming ducklings for another experiment when they noticed interesting things about a “dream”. First, ducklings almost always sleep in rows. Secondly, ducklings closing the row on both sides keep the “closing” eye open, while ducks located inside the row allow themselves to sleep with both eyes closed.


Dolphins are like whales; only half of their brain is asleep. In their case, one must not only be on the alert to hear the approach of a predator but also know when to rise to the surface to swallow air so as not to suffocate in a dream. According to Scientific American, dolphins sleep in one of two ways: either they rest in a deep form of sleep (in this case they look like logs floating in water), or they simply swim slowly next to each other.

When they sleep and swim at the same time, it is a light dream, akin to how people doze. Newborn dolphins do not sleep for the first few months of life. In this case, the mother should sleep on the go, she should not stop swimming during the first few weeks of the baby’s life.

If she stops for a long time, the baby will begin to sink, because he was born with insufficient fat, which would allow him to swim easily.

Features of animal sleep


You can envy the walrus for its sleepy habits: this not-so-good-smelling guy can sleep anytime, anywhere, whether he swims in the water, lies on the ground, or just leaning on another walrus. Researchers noted that they even saw walruses that were sleeping, catching tusks on an ice floe.

Jerome Siegel, director of the Center for Sleep Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Discovery News that these mammals can hold their breath and sleep underwater for 4-5 minutes because they also sleep in one hemisphere of the brain.

On land, they fall into a deep sleep, which can last up to 19 hours. It seems that they really need a dream: walruses can have periods of activity when they do not sleep and swim up to 84 hours in a row. “The discovery that walruses can be active for up to 84 hours without showing any signs of fatigue is unprecedented,” said sleep specialist Niels Rattenborg to Discovery News.

The bats

You probably know that bats sleep upside down. They do this because their wings are not strong enough to take off from the ground, so they use gravity, flying immediately from a height after sleep. Although this is a rather strange habit in itself, it is only part of their dream story. Do you know that bats are one of the sleepiest creatures on the planet?

For example, a small brown bat sleeps an average of 19.9 hours each day. Giant armadillos and possums are in second place, sleeping about 18 hours a day.

Zebras and horses

Zebras and horses often sleep standing up, so they are almost always alert. To sleep in this position, they use a special mechanism of their body, which allows them to “block” the knees in the upright position. Thus, to maintain themselves in a standing position, they need a minimum amount of muscle.

When they sleep in this position, it is rather a superficial dream, so from time to time, they need to go to bed to fully relax. Interesting about animal sleep

Sea otters

The sleepy habit of this animal is perhaps the cutest on this list. When these fluffy little creatures doze off, they swim on their backs on the surface of the water and are not carried far away. It is known that they sleep in pairs or small groups and hold hands.

They can also wrap themselves in brown algae or algae growing from the seabed, thereby creating a kind of anchor for themselves.

Migratory birds

Many birds, such as the Alpine Swift and Albatross, spend most of their lives migrating or hunting. Therefore, these birds are a kind of multitaskers who both sleep and eat during the flight. Researchers have found that alpine swifts can be in flight for about 200 days without a break for landing. Then they wondered: when do the birds sleep? Scientists believe that birds sleep in one cerebral hemisphere, like whales, ducks, and walruses, while sleeping soaring in the air.


Meerkats, along with otters, share the palm by the sweetest sleeping habits. These cat-like creatures live in underground burrows of 50 individuals. Their burrows reach a depth of 2-2.5 meters. Each hole is divided into numerous bedrooms, while there are those that are used only during mating.

When they go to bed, they do it in cozy heaps so that it is warmer. In summer, they often leave their homes and can sleep on the surface of the earth.

Animals in a dream


We do not know much about sharks, including how they close their eyes. However, one thing we know for sure: sharks need to breathe, they must pass water through their gills, so most sharks sleep during movement. But some small species of sharks, such as the nibbled nanny shark, for example, can use their spiracles (small openings under each eye that work like gills) to pump water through their gills while they lie on the bottom of the ocean.

Recently, for the first time, researchers managed to photograph a white shark sleeping. Footage shot by a robotic underwater vehicle near the Mexican Peninsula in California showed that a female shark swims closer to shore in shallow water as night falls.

She swims against the tide with her mouth open, so the water continues to pass through the gills. The speed of movement is greatly reduced, so the researchers believe that at these moments the shark is sleeping.


Have you heard the story of a snail that slept for four years? In the journal Natural History, a story was published about how, at the end of the 19th century, a British museum employee found the shell of an Egyptian land snail and, assuming that it was empty, attached it to an identification card.

Four years later, he noticed traces of mucus on the card. The man put the sink in the water, and when the sink was disconnected from the card, the snail allegedly crawled out. An ordinary garden snail winters from late autumn to spring under stones, fallen leaves, in cracks in the ground or in stones. Their shells are tight to the surface, protecting the snail itself from the wind and retaining heat.

Other snails spend their summer in hibernation. This means that in hot and dry periods they are in a prolonged state of rest, as happened in the case of the aforementioned carotid snail.

Animal sleep


Like snails, frogs have long hibernation – this is the main sleepy strategy. Frogs that hibernate in the summer live mainly in Africa and South America. In dry times, they burrow into the soil and with the help of several layers of skin form a kind of cocoon, leaving only the nose open for breathing.

When it rains again they get rid of the cocoon and come to the surface. Some water frogs winter underwater on a dirty bottom and partially burrow into the mud. They do not do it completely, like turtles, because they need oxygen and, if completely buried, they can suffocate. Earth frogs, such as a tree frog and an American toad, hibernate, burrowing into frozen soil, or hiding in fissures of logs or rocks.

The most interesting thing is that frogs that hibernate in the winter have a “built-in antifreeze system.” As ice crystals form in their bodies (in the bladder or under the skin), a high concentration of glucose saves their main organs from freezing. The heart may stop beating, and the frog may stop breathing, but spring will come, the frog will thaw and return to life.

The Bears

We have already talked about walking in a dream and eating in a dream. What about giving birth in a dream? Pregnant bears hibernating very quickly give birth to several cubs, and then return to sleep. It is impressive that a sleeping mother – a bear who does not eat, does not drink, does not go to the toilet, remains able to support the life growing inside herself.


Orangutans, gorillas, and chimpanzees love to sleep curled up, as people do. Orangutans sleep very soundly, sitting comfortably on their backs or turning from side to side in a dream.

Meanwhile, chimpanzee sleep is very sensitive. Animals are extremely picky about the place of sleep. Every night they “overthrow” their bed of leaves and stems. In fact, there are so many monkey populations, so many sleepy habits.

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