With millions of years of history behind their origin, alligators happen to be the last of the dinosaur kind that we humans get to see. These animals take place at the top of the food chain and play a vital role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
Now, while there are a lot of interesting facts about alligators, one common question that many of us have is, ‘where do alligators sleep?’
Alligators sleep by digging a hole or hollow in the mud where they live. This hole is known as a “gator hole”, which is usually dug along a waterway. Alligators usually sleep around 17 hours a day, but when the temperature drops, they will enter underground holes and undergo a phase called dormancy that lasts for a few months.
Where Do Alligators Sleep?
While many believe that alligators hibernate, the fact is that these apex predators only go dormant for specific time intervals, during those times when the weather gets cold, beyond what they can handle.
Usually, when the temperature falls below 70oF, they stop eating and start digging a tunnel in the bank of a waterway, like a river or a pond. This tunnel can sometimes extend up to 65 feet and provides the animal with complete protection until they find the temperature to be warmer to come out.
Once they are done with their dormancy and get out of their tunnel, other animals occupy the area for their living.
How Do Alligators Sleep?
When you come across alligators, say in state parks, you would often notice many of them sunbathing on the rocks. This is because these are cold-blooded animals and love sleeping under the warmth of the sun. Not just that, alligators are also known to sleep with their mouth open.
While this action is more often than not thought to be a sign of aggression, the fact, however, is that keeping their mouth open while sleeping or otherwise helps alligators to regulate their body temperature.
Known as gaping, this technique keeps their body cool, and as they have no sweat glands as well, the heat from their body gets released through their mouth, thereby maintaining a comfortable body temperature.
Related: Where Do Tigers Sleep?
How Long Do Alligators Sleep?
On a daily basis, alligators can sleep anywhere around 17 hours. However, when they undergo their dormancy phase in their gator hole, there is no known or specific time frame for how long they will remain in their hollows. They are known to wait until the weather begins to warm up to leave their tunnel.
Alligators are ectothermic creatures, meaning they can regulate their body temperature only with the help of external sources. This is why they love basking in the sun, and often move to areas where the water or air temperatures are warmer or cooler.
While they stop feeding when the temperature drops below 70oF, it is only after 55oF that they become dormant, and remain so almost all the way through the winter. But, they do come up for basking, every now and then, which makes it difficult to put forward an exact duration of their sleeping period.
When Do Alligators Sleep?
Alligators are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are active thought the night and sleep during the day. As discussed earlier, alligators love to sleep under the sun. Therefore, you can find them asleep during different times of the day.
As being the cold-blooded type of animals, alligators require the sun from their environment in order to regulate their body temperature. So they tend to take long naps at every chance they get to enjoy the warm temperature of the sun. In a perfect scenario, right after lunch.
FAQs On Alligator Sleeping Habits
Here are some other most searched questions related to the gator sleeping habits:
Do alligators sleep with their eyes open?
Studies have revealed that predators, like alligators, can sleep with one eye open, technically called uni-hemispheric sleep. This they do to examine their surroundings, looking for potential threats or prey. Though the studies point straightly at their close cousins – the crocodiles, it is firmly believed that this apex predator can also follow the practice.
Do alligators sleep underwater?
While alligators are known to rest underwater, for even up to 24 hours if necessary, depending on the conditions, when it comes to sleeping, they rather prefer to do it under the sun. The animal does an excellent job of implementing some physiological mechanisms, rationing their oxygen supply only to vital tissues and organs, to stay underwater for longer durations.
Read Also: Can Alligators Smell Blood?