African WildlifeThe Unique Sleeping Habits of

How do giraffes sleep?

Nature is so interesting. Everything works in perfect balance, with each organism adapted for survival in several ways that are unique for every species. Not only physically, but living beings also evolve in terms of behavior to better suit their “role” in the wild. For example, sleeping patterns of different animals can vary. Us, humans need six to eight hours of sleep per day to function properly, with sleep deprivation having enormous effects on our productivity. But no mammal is the same. In the wild there are many factors to take into account and being unaware and sleeping for hours might come at a high price.

You might be surprised about some of the sleeping patterns of wild animals. Predators such as lions or leopards are generally more free in terms of sleeping, as they face fewer risks to be attacked. But prey animals need to be more careful. Among them, giraffes might be the animals with the most unique sleeping habits. Let’s have a look at what makes how does a giraffe sleep so interesting.

How Long Do Giraffes Sleep For?

You might think that giraffes, because of their height and size, might require long periods of sleep to be energized. After all, it would make sense to think that a big body requires more rest. However, giraffes sleep less than any other mammal in the wild. They can survive and get energized with an average of just half an hour of sleep per day. With 24 hours per day, 30 minutes of sleep is nothing! And, even more interestingly, when they do sleep, they usually can allow themselves only a few minutes at a time. Giraffes must sleep intermittently because of the many risks that they might face in the wild. Several predators consider a giraffe a succulent meal that can last for days and giraffes need to be alert at every time, even while sleeping. For this reason, giraffes in the wild won’t sleep more than 5 minutes at a time. Newly born calves sleep much more, but usually, they would have some other giraffes watching over them.

Another factor that might help in explaining such a short sleep time for giraffes might lay behind their diet. Rumination requires giraffes to continuously chew partially digested food to break it down even more. It is a daily activity that occupies most of the active day of giraffes since it is aside from active feeding.

How do Giraffes Sleep?

The great thing about giraffes is that adults can sleep standing and getting to a state of half-sleep which keeps them aware of the surroundings while resting for a few minutes.

Babies and some adults when the situation allows it, tend to lower to the ground with their legs tucked in on their heads on their back.

The reason adults tend to sleep without laying down is behind the risks giraffes have to face in the wild. Giraffes are not agile in getting up, because of their large body size. To lay down and having to face a predator would be fatal for a giraffe. Instead of standing up allows them to quickly run away and get themselves out of danger. Thus, sleeping while standing is the best adaptation to increase the probability of survival of giraffes in the wild.

Where Do Giraffes Sleep in The Wild?

Because giraffes only sleep for a few minutes at a time and with their eyes usually half-opened, you might have seen a giraffe sleeping, without even knowing it. While grazing, they might daze for a short moment. Seeing baby giraffes sleeping is particularly rare in the wild. Giraffes are common in national parks and reserves in Uganda, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.

How Do Giraffes Sleep in Captivity?

In captivity, giraffes tend to sleep more. They would still sleep for only a few minutes at a time but for a total time of 4.5 hours per day, most of the time during the night.

Also, it has been noticed that just like humans’, giraffes’ sleeping patterns change with stress. For example, when a giraffe is transferred from one zoo to another, or when it loses a mate, they would sleep even less than normal or not sleep at all.

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