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8 Animals That Sleep the Most (Interesting Facts)

Aside from eating and drinking, sleep is one of the most important things for animals because it gives their bodies a chance to rest and prepare for the next day. Even though everyone needs sleep, different species sleep differently and for varying amounts of time. Some animals, like giraffes and horses, only need two to three hours of sleep a day, while the animals that sleep the most need 15 to 20 hours a day to meet their body’s needs. 

In this article, we’ll look at the lives of some of nature’s best sleepers, from sloths to Asia’s big cats, who know that a well-rested body is the key to survival. 

8 Animals that sleep the most

1. Koala

Sleeping Koala
Sleeping Koala | Image by PixelAnarchy from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Phascolarctos cinereus

The koala, a cuddly marsupial, is native to Australia and can be found in Eucalyptus woodlands. You may know them for being one of the sleepiest animal species because they can sleep for up to 22 hours in a single day, but you might see them being active at night. Koalas primarily rely on a diet consisting of eucalyptus leaves, which can be toxic. 

As a result, they require a significant amount of energy to break down these leaves. Unfortunately, their energy intake is limited due to their exclusive leaf-based diet, the very reason why koalas sleep a lot.

2. Sloth

Brown-throated three-toed sloth
Brown-throated three-toed sloth | image by Charlie Jackson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Bradypus variegatus

Sloths, known for their slow movement, are one of the slowest animals on our planet, and these creatures are also famous for being able to sleep for a long time. You’ll often come across them in tropical forests, where they prefer to reside in trees, as they seldom step on the ground. 

Sloths are only awake and active for up to ten hours a day, but they sleep for anywhere between 15 and 18 hours a day. These animals sleep a lot because their metabolism is very slow, and they have a leaf-based diet. Because of this, sloths need to conserve their energy, so these species require many hours of rest. 

3. Brown bat

Little Brown Bat
Little Brown Bat | image by NABat via Flickr

Scientific Name: Myotis lucifugus

You may come across the little brown bat, one of the animals that loves to sleep a lot, during your trip to North America. This flying mammal measures up to a maximum length of 3.7 inches, with the females being slightly larger than the males.

You’ll mostly encounter these fascinating creatures in colonies of up to 9,000 individuals, but a few remarkable colonies have been discovered with a population of up to 183,500 individuals. These little bats require a significant amount of sleep, approximately 20 hours, to conserve their energy.  

4. Giant armadillo

Giant armadillo lying in the grass
Giant armadillo lying in the grass | image by Garst, Warren via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Scientific Name: Priodontes maximus

The giant armadillo is the largest type of armadillo, reaching lengths of up to 40 inches, and is most likely to be spotted in South America. These creatures’ bodies are protected by 11 to 13 hinged bands, and they have an impressive set of teeth, boasting around 80 to 100, which is more teeth than any other terrestrial mammal out there. On average, giant armadillos sleep up to 18 hours in their cozy burrows, but they wake up from their slumber to search for food like termites and ants.  

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5. Ball pythons

Ball python coiled
Ball python coiled | Image by Soundfrau from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Python regius

Mammals aren’t the only animals that sleep most of the day; a species of snake known as the ball python is also one of the animals that require at least 20 hours of rest per day. These animals often make their homes in burrows found in the savanna grasslands or open forests, and wake up to eat, drink, and regulate their body temperature. 

When ball phytons sense a threat approaching, they form a tight ball, with their heads positioned protectively in the center. This unique behavior is actually how the species got its name. 

6. Virginia opossums

Virginia Opossum
Virginia Opossums | Image by daynaw3990 from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Didelphis virginiana

In Central and North America, you might come across Virginia opossums sleeping for up to 18 hours. You can easily identify them by their incredibly long tails, which are 93% of their head-to-body length. These animals are most active during the dark hours and rest during the daytime. 

One behavior that has made opossums popular is their clever tactic known as “playing possum.” When threatened by predators, they pretend to be dead, remaining in this state until the predators eventually give up and leave them alone. 

7. Treeshrew 

Common treeshrew
Common treeshrew | image by Stavenn via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientific Name: Tupaia glis

Treeshrews are a species of small mammal that you can find living in tropical forests with deciduous trees. You can easily spot them by their pointy snouts and bushy tails, which resemble squirrels. On average, treeshrews sleep for 15.8 hours during the night, but in the daytime, these small species become active to feast on various foods like fruits, seeds, leaves, and insects, and also feed on ants and spiders. 

8. Tiger

Sleeping tiger
Sleeping tiger | image by S B via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris

Tigers, one of the planet’s most fearsome animals, often spend most of their time sleeping. These animals require between 15 and 18 hours of sleep each night to maintain the high level of activity required to hunt and kill their prey successfully. During this time, they love to relax in shaded areas, close to water or under the trees, to stay comfortably cool.