Do Alligators Sleep?

Yes, alligators sleep. Like all animals, they need time to rest and recover. They sleep most of the day and hunt at night as alligators are nocturnal animals.

When alligators sleep, they sleep so shallowly. It is why they easily get roused when there is an intruder. When the temperature drops, they go to a period of dormancy called brumation, but they do not hibernate.

Do Alligators Sleep

Do alligators sleep on land?

Yes, alligators sleep on land. Most of the time, one would find them by the riverbank, basking under the sun. They typically sleep during these times. Once their bodies have absorbed too much heat, they will go back to the water to cool down.

Related Article: What Sounds Do Alligators Make?

Do alligators sleep in water?

Yes, alligators sleep in the water from time to time. They can sleep partially submerged or fully submerged in the water.

However, they do not do this for long periods, as they will drown. It is safe to say that they can do this for only about 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

Even if they can sleep underwater, they keep their nostrils above the water’s surface most of the time. Alligators cannot breathe underwater because they have no gills. As such, they need to keep breathing.

Related Article: Are Alligators Nocturnal, Diurnal or Crepuscular?

How can alligators sleep underwater and not drown?

One must take note that alligators are conscious breathers. It means that the alligator has to “think” about breathing. Humans and animals, on the other hand, are unconscious breathers.

Unconscious breathing means that the human will still breathe even if under sedation. Alligators do not do this.

Conscious breathing may sound disadvantageous, but it is not. Under the water, human divers may pass out because of what is called shallow water blackout.

If this happens, the human diver is still underwater. As an unconscious breather, the human breathes, which is why a human can drown.

Alligators, however, cannot drown this way. If an alligator loses consciousness underwater, it will not automatically breathe. As such, it cannot drown.

Once the oxygen is about to get depleted, the alligator wakes up. And once it does, it will go back and breathe.

Can people sedate an alligator underwater?

No, people cannot do this, or the alligator will die. As an unconscious breather, sedation puts the alligator in a state where its muscles are paralyzed.

As such, it may not even think of breathing. If left underwater, the alligator will run out of oxygen. Once the oxygen is out, it cannot go back to consciousness because it is sedated. As such, it will eventually die

Do alligators sleep with one eye open?

The answer to this is not known. There are studies showing that crocodilians possess the ability of unihemispheric sleep.

Unihemispheric sleep happens when one animal sleeps with only half a brain. What it means is that half the brain is awake, and the other half is asleep.

There seems to be a consensus that all crocodilians are unihemispheric. However, more studies are required to prove this.

For crocodiles, there were studies showing that they do sleep with one eye open. The thing is that the mediasometimes exaggerate scientific findings.

For example, while crocodiles do sleep with one eye open, they do not do this all the time. Most of the time, they sleep with both of their eyes closed.

How long do alligators sleep?

Alligators sleep for about 17 hours a day. That is their lifestyle. Alligators do not have much to do but eat and bask under the sun.

Unlike other animals, alligators are not exactly a social species. They also do not have a large brain to become curious about something.

When the temperature is low, alligators stay in their holes. That is where they stay until the weather becomes hotter.

During this period of dormancy, which is called brumation, the alligator does not sleep 100% of the time. It is just there to help balance its temperature.

What is brumation?

Brumation is a period of dormancy that happens in reptiles. These animals go to hiding places like holes and dens when the temperature gets extremely cold.

Brumation is not the same as hibernation. In hibernation, the animal goes to sleep for a long time. Its body temperature slows down, along with its metabolism. Polar bears are the most popular animals that hibernate.

In brumation, the reptile goes out if the temperature is warm enough. They do not sleep all the time. Alligators that brumate will come out to hunt and bask under the sun. They only stay in their holes if it is too cold.

Can alligators sleep when it is too cold?

Yes, alligators can sleep when it is too cold. Alligators can survive in frozen water. When they do this, they need to sleep, too.

The proper term for an alligator that stay in frozen water is “icing.” Icing means that the alligator submerges itself underwater, and the surface is frozen.

Alligators buried in ice may look dead. What many people do not realize is that they are alive and that under that frozen pond is liquid water.

Reptiles like alligators cannot survive extremely cold temperatures. It is why there are no snakes or alligators in Antarctica.

When icing, an alligator is also in a state of brumation. It goes to sleep and wakes up from time to time. During this period, the alligator slows down its metabolic rate. The gator’s snout is still above the ice surface, so it can breathe.

When an alligator is icing, it is fighting for its life. Once the sun is out, the gators will also spring back to life. If the extreme winter continues, the alligator can die.


Alligators sleep. They usually sleep for 17 hours, and they sleep on both land and in the water. It is not known if they sleep with one eye open, but the general consensus is that they do.

Alligators also go through a period of dormancy. It is called brumation. They hide in holes or stay underwater while the surface freezes.

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