The Mystery Behind How Long Animals Sleep

The Mystery Behind How Long Animals Sleep


It is well known that sleep plays just as much of a crucial role in our lives as does eating, drinking, and breathing. And, this does not only apply to humans, but to animals too. While “sleep” can be defined as having a critical role in the lives of all organisms, animals seem to have many variables that dictate their sleeping patterns and durations during a lifetime. For example, why does a chipmunk sleep longer than a horse? It has been proven that chipmunks sleep on average 15 hours per day while a horse will sleep maybe 3-5 hours.

Scientists have analyzed the many variables that may affect the sleeping patterns of animals. Three of the critical variable relationships mentioned include: captivity verses freedom, size comparisons, and the number of predators versus prey in a certain environment.

Captivity vs. Freedom

Let’s go back to the chipmunk example, for a minute. A chipmunk in the wild has to spend everyday looking for food and hiding from predators. However, a chipmunk in captivity at a zoo has all of its needs before him. He doesn’t have to spend all day looking for food or hiding from animals that may have him for dinner. He can relax all day, making it possible for him to sleep way longer than he would in the wild. This same relationship can apply to tigers and lions who are well known predators. In the wild, they are hunting and looking for ways to survive. While in captivity, all their needs are provided making them more prone to sleep longer.


When a baby is born, they sleep way longer than when they grow up to be 25. Two factors of this can be illustrated by their size and need of growth. A baby needs to grow and develop physically and mentally, and so they sleep for longer periods of time. The same goes for animals. Smaller animals, especially newborn animals, require more sleep to grow and mature than larger animals do. For example, while a rabbit sleeps up to 12 hours, an elephant sleeps around 2 hours.

Predators vs. Prey

Animals in an environment, in their efforts to survive, will either be looking for food or escaping that fate of their predator. While in a zoo, smaller prey (such as mice) may not worry about being eaten, further explaining their long sleeping patterns. However, when in the wild, they must always be on their feet to hide from predators that may eat them. Predators, on the other hand, don’t worry about being eaten. Yet, they are always on the hunt for prey during various hours of the day and night to survive.

Fun Facts with How Long Various Animals Sleep

With all these variables in mind, here are some fun facts of approximately how long various animals sleep per day:

  • Walrus- 19
  • Giraffe- 2
  • Cow- 4
  • Duck- 11
  • Python- 18
  • Tiger- 15.8
  • Lion- 13.5
  • Baboon-10.3
  • Chimpanzee-9.7
  • Goat-5.3
  • Horse-2.9
  • Pig-7.8
  • Cat-12.1
  • Platypus-14
  • Squirrel-14.9
  • Rat-12.6
  • Mouse-12.1
  • Jaguar-10.8

For more fun facts on the sleep duration of animals, click here.

Although there still remains more to the mystery of the duration and sleep patterns of animals, scientists have studied the obvious factors that most pertain. Different habitats and circumstances of various animals have become the perfect lab to locate results and parallel them to those of human existence. Understanding the health of animals can help us comprehend how to aid in the health of the human race.

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  • Brandon Doyle