How Many Hours A Day Do Giraffes Sleep

The giraffe is a species of African even-toed ungulate mammal. Giraffes are the tallest living terrestrial animal and the largest ruminant on earth. However, they’re also one of the most sleep-deprived. Giraffes are unique animals, and they have some pretty interesting characteristics in their sleep patterns.

Giraffes are found in South Africa, southern Central Africa, and East Africa. There are nine recognized subspecies today: Thornicroft’s, Angolan (or Rothschild’s), Masai, Reticulated, Kordofan, Nubian (or North Nigerian), South African (or Cape), Somali, and West African giraffes. Whether a Giraffe sleeps less or more than you do is an open question.

how many hours does a giraffe sleep

How Do Giraffes Sleep?

How giraffes sleep is dependent on stress, the weather, and the photoperiod. Giraffes are well-known for sleeping both standing up and lying down. Adult giraffe usually sleeps while standing up with their necks relaxed and their head may tilt forward with both ears moving to get a light sleep.

Baby giraffes sleep lying down with their head bent around and resting on their back and their legs tucked under themselves (see picture below). They are usually protected by adult giraffes. While sleeping giraffes are very alert and aware of their surroundings and their chances of survival when predators approach are high.

How Long Do Giraffes Sleep in The Wild and Captivity

In the wild, Giraffes don’t have the luxury of sleeping for long; instead, they sleep in short intervals that last for just 5 minutes at a time with their eyes usually partially open. Scientists have revealed that the cumulative average number of hours a day giraffe sleeps is not more than half an hour a day. Giraffes’ sleep may be interrupted due to predator attacks or other stressful situations.

In captivity, giraffes sleep more lying down. There is no menace of attack by lions and other predators in captivity. giraffe sleep time increases in captivity, although they still sleep for short periods as seen in the wild. The total hours a giraffe sleeps per day in captivity has been summed to about 5 hours. They sleep most during the night.

Why Do Giraffes Sleep So Little

Naturally, Giraffe sleep very little daily; zoologists have several reasons for these short naps, some of which are:

#1. Giraffes have large body sizes:

The large size of giraffes makes it difficult for them to get up and attack or run when a predator approaches. Sleeping while standing up makes it easier for giraffes to retaliate attacks by picking the predator or running to get themselves out of danger. Sleeping while standing is one of the best adaptations to increase the chances of survival of giraffes in the wild.

#2. Vulnerability to predators

While giraffes may seem like they don’t get enough sleep per day, their sleeping pattern is vital to their survival. Lions, tigers, and cheetahs are popular predators of Giraffes. Funnily, these predators are usually intimated by the size of Giraffes when they stand. Lying down makes it harder for them to run away or kick a predator. In this wild, the baby giraffes are the most vulnerable; they get killed easily in an ambush while sleeping.

#3. Rumination

Giraffes are herbivores that eat only plants. They are also called ruminants because they have four stomach compartments that aid the digestion of plants. Rumination is the process of rechewing partially digested feed called cud which is regurgitated up from the rumen. Giraffes spend up to 50% of their day grazing and 30% to chew the cud (rumination).

After grazing, Giraffes tend to ruminate for proper utilization and digestion of the feed. Giraffes can ruminate while walking, standing, or lying down. During the process of rumination, giraffes cannot sleep deeply because of the high risk of choking on the cud, hence, they keep their head held up during the process.

#4. Their neck is their weak point

The neck of a giraffe is its weak point; If a predator attacks a sleeping giraffe and manages to grab the giraffe’s neck while it is already on the ground, it’s unlikely that the giraffe will survive. Sleeping while standing makes it uneasy for any predator to grab the neck as it is about five meters above the ground.

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