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How Do Animals Sleep?

Many animals like cats and dogs simply lie down to sleep.  But other animals have some unique and interesting sleep habits. 

Some animals such as horses can “lock” their legs so that they can sleep while standing.  This ability allows them to make a quick escape if a predator comes near.  Some birds such as the flamingo can even sleep while balancing on only one leg!

Leopards also have excellent balance.  These large cats can sleep on a tree limb without falling off.  The three-toed sloth also sleeps on a tree limb.  It tends to sleep in a sitting position, using a tree branch for back support.

Sea otters have a different kind of balance.  They float on the surface of the water while sleeping.  They often wrap themselves in kelp, which is a type of seaweed.  The kelp prevents them from drifting away while they sleep.

The walrus also floats while it sleeps.  But it bobs up and down in the water, sleeping in a vertical position.  Instead of kelp, the walrus uses ice as an anchor.  It digs its long tusks into the ice to stay in place while it sleeps.   

Mallard ducks also sleep on the water. But they sleep in groups of four, floating in a row.  The ducks on the ends of the row keep one eye open while they sleep.  This allows them to watch for predators.

Marine mammals such as dolphins and whales have the ability to sleep with only one-half of their brain at a time.  The other half of their brain remains awake so that they can swim while sleeping.

Tall giraffes twist around when they lie down to sleep.  The giraffe curves its long neck around like a pretzel.  Then it rests its head on its backside or on the ground.

These are just a few examples of the wide variety of animal sleep habits. Watch this video from Sea World and Busch Gardens to learn more: