Have you ever seen crocodiles sleeping? Maybe you have seen them napping while basking under the sun on hot, balmy days.
Crocodiles typically take a rest on the ground near the shore. Crocs in captivity usually rest on concrete made by humans. Crocodiles may also be seen dozing off while partially submerged in water.
So, it is a fact that crocs also snooze. And it further intrigues us to dig deeper to earth some other associated information with croc sleeping facts. So, here we are with this post dedicated to “where do crocodiles sleep” and facts you should know.
Do crocodiles ever sleep?
Before jumping into other facts, one question that often asks for a reply is if crocodiles ever sleep. Do they go into a deep sleep or in the REM phase, just like humans?
It is a fact that crocodiles actually sleep. According to popular belief, crocs can sleep as long as 17 hours (total each day). Crocodilians sleep intermittently throughout the day. And, unlike humans, these reptiles also do not enter the rapid eye movement or REM phase.
Their sleep tends to be so shallow that even the slightest of sounds can awake them instantly. Hence, never approach a crocodile (or an alligator), even if they seem to be sleeping.
Do not disturb them!
Note: The REM phase, also known as rapid eye movement, is characterized by fast eye movements, increased body movement, a faster heartbeat, and rapid breathing. The dreaming phase occurs during this stage of sleep. Additionally, the REM stage is essential for emotional processing and the healthy growth of the brain.
How do crocodiles sleep?
We’ve already mentioned how brief crocodilians’ slumber is. They do not go into a deep sleep. For crocodilians, sleeping is more of a way to unwind. So how do they sleep, then?
These reptiles occasionally sleep with one eye open, according to experts. However, they sometimes sleep with their eyes closed as well. Crocs have a hardwired response to sound or disturbance, waking them up immediately. This innate reflex in these reptiles is related to the characteristic of sleeping with one eye open.
Crocodiles are not the only animals in the animal kingdom that exhibit this sleeping behavior. Other animals, such as dolphins, beluga whales, blackbirds, and others, do the same.
This type of sleeping is called unihemispheric sleep. It is only possible when one side of the brain is asleep while the other is awake. The open eye is the one connected to the conscious brain. And crocs keep their one eye open mostly when there are humans around them.
Do crocodiles sleep with their mouth fully open?
While it is a fact that crocodiles sleep with one eye open, is it also true that they sleep with their mouth open? Let’s find out the fact.
It is not unusual to see crocodiles with their mouths open while sleeping. Since crocodiles don’t have sweat glands, they can release heat by keeping their mouths open. On hot, humid days, you may also see crocs with open mouths and gasping for air like dogs.
While releasing heat is the primary purpose for these reptiles to keep their mouth open, there is a secondary purpose: teeth cleaning!
How long do crocodiles sleep?
Different animals have different sleeping duration. However, creatures that display unihemispheric sleep patterns have one of their brains always conscious.
Studies have shown that crocs do not sleep deep and for a long stretch at a time. Instead, they sleep intermittently throughout the day, cumulatively standing at around 17 hours. They also mostly keep both their eyes shut during the sleeping phase.
Crocs prefer to keep both their eyes shut when there is no visual stimulus around them.
But there is no consensus on the confirmed duration of crocodiles’ sleep duration. Therefore, more in-depth studies need to be carried out to study the brain waves of these reptiles to shed some bright light on this aspect.
Are crocodiles sleeping and hibernating the same?
Hibernation is a process in which animals experience reduced activity and metabolic slow-down. This process occurs in the winter and is also marked by a low body temperature.
Crocodile sleep and hibernation are not the same things. Crocs, in fact, are cold-blooded reptiles that do not hibernate. Instead, they enter a state of long sleep, known as aestivation, comparable to hibernation.
Crocs seek refuge in tropical areas near wetlands when the temperature drops. They take long naps, but they do not sleep the entire time. Crocs also exhibit reduced metabolic activity and other bodily functions during aestivation.
On the other hand, alligators go through a state known as brumate, defined by lethargy, lack of activity, or trances. Crocodiles and alligators prefer living into holes dug by the shoreline when they aestivate or brumate. They remain inside those holes until the circumstances are right for them to emerge again.
But remember, these reptiles do not disappear for the whole time they aestivate or brumate. Instead, they occasionally come out of their holes to bask under the sun and hunt for food.
How do crocodiles sleep in the water?
The idea that crocodiles sleep in the water is false. They are not fish, so they don’t have gills. But you may find them dozing off while still partially submerged in water.
Underwater, crocodiles are fully conscious. They dive underwater to find food before returning to the surface to breathe. Remember that even though crocodiles live in the water, they possess lungs and require air to breathe, so they cannot sleep underwater like fish and other marine creatures do.
Do crocodiles sleep on land?
If you have ever seen crocs, you may have seen them basking under the sun by the river backs. This makes us question do these reptiles sleep on land.
Crocodiles do indeed snooze on land. Near the shore is where they primarily do this. They sleep both during the day and at night on land.
Crocs occasionally need to take a nap as well. However, they don’t have a preferred hour for sleeping.
Where do crocodiles sleep at night?
Crocs can sleep on land and partially submerged in water during the night. Their sleeping habits are not predictable. However, because they are nocturnal, these creatures typically prefer to hunt at night.
Their eyes have tapetum lucidum, which improves their night vision. Crocs typically prefer to ambush attack prey after sunset because they can see through pitch-black darkness. Hunting gets easier for them during the nighttime.
Where do alligators sleep at night?
Like crocodiles, alligators do not go into the deep sleep phase. They also remain half awake most of the time while sleeping.
Alligators sleep on land, by the shoreline, and remain half-submerged in the water while sleeping at night. They are nocturnal animals, and most remain awake and active after sunset to hunt prey. They wait inactively for prey to come to them, then ambush attack and hunt them down.
Do alligators sleep underwater?
Can alligators sleep underwater if they cannot breathe but can hold their breath for extended periods?
Alligators can indeed sleep underwater, but they do not always act in such an extreme manner. Nevertheless, gators can doze off briefly while remaining fully or partially submerged in water. However, they don’t typically sleep underwater, at least not really, for extended periods.
Gators frequently keep their nostrils lifted directly and out of the water while they are submerged in water so they can breathe. Since they lack gills like fish, they must obtain oxygen from the air rather than the water.
The key takeaway of this post is that crocodilians mostly prefer to sleep by the shoreline. However, we can also find them resting while being half submerged in the water. But these reptiles never sleep underwater. The reason is simple- they don’t possess gills and must come out of the water to breathe.