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29 Animals that Sleep Standing Up (A to Z List +Pictures)

animals that sleep standing up

Animals that sleep standing up include Bison, Buffalos, Camels, Canaries, and Cranes.

Have you ever seen an animal sleep standing up? It’s a strange but interesting sight. Animals that sleep standing up usually do so because they are uncomfortable sleeping in any other position.

This post will explore some of the animals that sleep standing up, why they do it, and what effects it has on their health.

Examples of Animals that Sleep Standing Up

Do animals that sleep standing up have an advantage over those that sleep lying down? Some people think so. In fact, there are a few animals that can only sleep while standing up. What benefits do they get from this type of sleep? Let’s take a closer look.

1. Bison

Bison
Scientific NameBison
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe United States, Canada, and Mexico
DietHerbivore

When most people think of bison, they imagine these massive animals grazing in open fields. But what you may not know is that these creatures are also known for their tendency to sleep while standing up.

This rather unusual behavior has puzzled scientists for years, but a new study may have finally figured out why bison prefer to sleep on their feet.

It’s due to their size and the energy it takes to stand up after lying down

2. Buffalos

Wild Water Buffalo
Scientific NameBison bison
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeIndia and Africa
DietHerbivore

Buffalo, or Asian cows, are one of the animals that sleep standing up. Like elephants, they have a ligament in their leg that goes down to their heel and tightens when they lie down. This tightens up the tendons in their legs so they cannot relax on all fours like most other animals.

Related Article: Do Buffalos Yawn?

3. Camels

Bactrian Camel
Scientific NameCamelus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangedesert areas in North Africa and the Middle East
DietHerbivore

Camel’s sleep standing up. They do this to avoid the heat during the hottest part of the day in the deserts where they live. It takes a long time for them to fall asleep, and when they finally do, their head droops down to their chest and sometimes falls all the way forward until it hits their front legs.

Related Article: How Much Does a Camel Cost?

4. Canaries

Canary
Scientific NameSerinus canaria domestica
Type of AnimalBird
Rangethe Canary, Azores, and Madeira islands
DietHerbivore

The canaries sleep in a standing position. This is also the only time when canaries have their eyes closed.

It’s not clear why canaries sleep in this way, but some scientists believe that they do it to get ready for flight and keep predators away during rest periods.

5. Cows

angus cattle
Scientific NameBos taurus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

Cows are a type of cattle that, obviously, eats grass. They have been known to sleep standing up for periods of two hours during the day and night.

This is due to an ancient instinct telling them not to get comfortable when sleeping, in fear that predators will spot them easier. Cows also do it because they don’t like lying down on wet ground.

6. Cranes

crane
Scientific NameGruidae
Type of AnimalBird
RangeNorth America
DietOmnivore

Cranes sleep standing on one leg. Their legs are too long to fully lock while they’re sitting down, so they just put one foot down at a time. They can stay in limbo position for up to 30 minutes without falling over.

7. Crows

crow
Scientific NameCorvus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Crows are one of the few animals that actually get more sleep while standing than when they lie down. They rest their head on a branch and switch between their right and left foot every 1 to 2 minutes. This allows them to get about 4 hours of sleep in 20-minute intervals.

8. Deer

deer eating grass
Scientific NameCervidae
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth American
DietHerbivore

Deer sleep standing up to help protect them from predators. When they are standing, their very large heart is pumping blood downwards through the body, not upwards like when they lay down. This prevents common deer diseases such as chronic heart failure.

Related Article: How Often Do Deer Have Babies?

9. Donkeys

Donkey
Scientific NameEquus asinus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

This animal sleeps in a standing position in order to avoid getting bitten by insects and parasites at the night.

This common practice has caused many donkeys to acquire bad knees and back problems.

10. Ducks

duck
Scientific NameAnseriformes
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Ducks sleep standing up. Believe it or not, this is a natural sleeping position for ducks. They tuck their heads underneath their wings and drift off to sleep. This leaves the rest of their body exposed to the cold air, but ducks have evolved to deal with this.

Their feathers are thick and insulating, and they can rotate their heads almost 180 degrees to keep an eye on predators.

11. Elephants

elephants
Scientific NameLoxodonta
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica
DietHerbivore

Elephants sleep standing up! It might seem like an odd habit, but it actually has some benefits. For one, elephants don’t need to waste time and energy finding a place to rest. They can also keep watch for danger while they sleep.

Researchers are still studying the sleeping habits of elephants, but it’s clear that they’re smart animals with some interesting behaviors.

12. Flamingos

flamingo
Scientific NamePhoenicopterus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeFlorida
DietOmnivore

Flamingos are famous for their bright pink feathers, but these birds are also interesting because they sleep standing up. A new study has found that flamingos can sleep in any position, but they usually sleep standing up to avoid predators.

By sleeping standing up, flamingos can keep an eye on their surroundings and react quickly if needed. Researchers observed two groups of flamingos and found that the birds slept for an average of six hours each day. While most of the birds slept standing up, a few individuals did sleep lying down or leaning against other birds.

13. Gazelles

Gazelle
Scientific NameGazella
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth Africa from the Saharan deserts to the sub-Saharan Sahel
DietHerbivore

Gazelles sleep standing up and they also take short naps while running. Researchers believe that this is done for protection purposes, as the animal would likely be spotted by a predator much sooner if it were sleeping laying down. Whether or not this is true, gazelles spend about three hours of every day asleep.

14. Geese

Goose standing on one leg
Scientific NameAnser
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

Geese kneel to sleep and often choose a watery sleeping site, which means that they’re standing in shallow water when they fall asleep. They do this because it is easier for them to escape from predators when they are already “halfway down” to the ground.

15. Giraffes

Giraffe
Scientific NameGiraffa
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica
DietHerbivore

Giraffes sleep while standing up, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal Biology Letters, found that giraffes sleep for around two hours a day, with most of that time spent standing. The findings challenge the idea that large animals need to lie down to sleep.

16. Hens

chicken
Scientific NameGallus gallus domesticus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Hens sometimes sleep standing up because they have a high resting temperature that would be greatly affected if they were to lie down. Chickens will also occasionally engage in a little bit of REM sleep while standing, but not much.

17. Horses

horse
Scientific NameEquus caballus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

If you’ve ever seen a horse sleep, you may have been surprised to see that they often sleep standing up. Despite what some people believe, horses do not sleep with their eyes open. Horses usually sleep for two or three hours at a time and they usually lie down to rest.

A horse’s resting heart rate is around 30 beats per minute, compared to an adult human’s average resting heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute. When horses are in a deep sleep, their heart rate drops to around 18-20 beats per minute.

18. Moose

Alaska Moose
Scientific NameAlces alces
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangenorthern forests of North America, Europe, and Russia
DietHerbivore

A recent study has shown that moose sleep standing up. The study, conducted by a team of Canadian researchers, found that moose positioned themselves with their heads down and legs slightly bent when they napped.

It’s not clear why the animals do this, but it’s likely that the position helps them stay alert and avoid predators. Moose are the largest deer in North America and can weigh up to 1,500 pounds.

19. Pigeons

Pigeon
Scientific NameColumbidae
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Pigeons are well known for sleeping standing up. They often sleep on their tiptoes which allows them to sleep more than half of the day, although they do spend part of this time grooming themselves and eating food they’ve gathered earlier.

20. Reindeer

Svalbard Reindeer
Scientific NameRangifer tarandus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangenorthern Europe and Asia
DietHerbivore

Reindeer are ruminant animals, meaning that they have four-chambered stomachs that help them digest vegetation.

Because the reindeers’ stomachs are so big, it makes it difficult for them to lie down comfortably, which is why they will often sleep standing up.

21. Rhinos

Two rhinos next to each other
Scientific NameRhinocerotidae
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeSouth Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.
DietHerbivore

Rhinos are large endangered mammals that live in Asia and Africa. They have poor eyesight, but they can hear extremely well. They are largely solitary creatures that eat between 50 to 100 pounds of vegetation per day.

Because they are so big, it is nearly impossible for them to roll over or lay down, therefore they sleep standing up.

Related Article: What Eats Rhinos?

22. Seagulls

seagull
Scientific NameLarus argentatus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Seagulls have been observed sleeping standing up on one leg with their heads tucked into their shoulder.

It has been suggested that this position allows them to quickly take flight should a predator approach.

While it is possible for seagulls to sleep in other positions, it is believed that they only stand on one leg for short periods of time.

Read Also: Does Seagulls Represent Hope?

23. Songbirds

Songbird
Scientific NamePasseri
Type of AnimalBird
Rangealmost every habitat in the United States
DietOmnivore

Many songbirds (order: Passeriformes) such as roosters, house finches, cardinals, and blue jays sleep while standing. During foraging for food or while out in the open, they tend to have their heads tucked under a wing so that the bill is hidden from view.

24. Sparrows

sparrow
Scientific NamePasseridae
Type of AnimalBird
RangeAsia, North Africa, and most of Europe
DietOmnivore

Most sparrows stand to sleep; this is because they are prey animals and standing up allows them to keep an eye out for predators.

25. Storks

stork
Scientific NameCiconiidae
Type of AnimalBird
RangeAfrica, Asia, and Europe
DietCarnivore

Storks are common birds that can be found in many areas of the world. In cold weather, they prefer to sleep standing up because it keeps them warmer. They have been observed sleeping with their necks tucked under one leg and their heads resting on one foot.

26. Swifts

Swift
Scientific NameApodidae
Type of AnimalBird
Rangesouthern Chile and Argentina, New Zealand, and most of Australia
DietCarnivore

Swifts are birds that sleep while they are in flight. They have been known to fly for 6 months without touching the ground.

They glide on air currents using their long, narrow wings.

Swifts do not drink or excrete waste during their 6-month journey.

27. Turtle Doves

turtle dove
Scientific NameStreptopelia turtur
Type of AnimalBird
RangeEurope, North America
DietOmnivore

Turtle doves, a type of pigeon, sleep standing on one leg. They will sleep with their neck curved around and their other foot tucked into the curve.

28. Wildebeest

Wildebeest
Scientific NameConnochaetes
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesoutheastern Africa
DietHerbivore

Wildebeests typically migrate in the region of 300 miles twice a year and can sleep while standing at night. They are able to do so simply by locking their legs so they don’t collapse. The Wildebeest will only lie down for short periods of time.

29. Zebras

Zebra
Scientific NameEquus quagga
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeeast and southern Africa
DietHerbivore

Zebras are prey animals, and while they sleep, their eyes remain open so that they can be aware of predators. Because zebras sleep standing up, it is very difficult for a predator to get close enough to attack them.

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