The sleeping habits of our household beloved four-legged companions are not a mystery to us: most sleep curled up in a small ball or on their stomachs, legs apart on each side. Plus, it is a very touching sight to see our dear little animals resting with confidence under our watchful eyes! But there are creatures of the animal kingdom with somewhat less well-known sleep habits, such as llamas. How do these proud-looking mammals sleep? Llamas fall into a slumber after folding their legs underneath them, just like camels and alpacas.


Do Llamas Sleep Standing Up?

Llamas do not sleep standing up. Instead, these animals curl their legs up underneath them to rest, as do alpacas and camels. This position is called kush. Then, when they are sleeping deeply, they stretch their necks out in front of them. Llamas also mate in the kush position, which is rather unusual in a large animal.

Interestingly, according to this article published in The New York Times in 1987, ”kush”, which means ”lie down”, would come from the French word ”coucher”.

a llama in green pasture
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

Do Llamas Sleep at Night?

Llamas are diurnal animals and sleep at night; they sometimes take short naps during the day, especially if the heat becomes too intense. However, they are hardy animals that are well adapted to the harsh conditions at high altitudes. The rain does not scare them, but they will seek a place in the shade to rest on sweltering days.

How Many Hours a Day Do Llamas Sleep?

The exact number of hours of sleep a llama sleeps per night is unknown. However, the camel, its distant relative, needs around 6 hours of sleep to recover sufficiently, suggesting that the llama should sleep roughly the same amount of time. Additionally, baby llamas, like baby alpacas, need 10 to 14 hours of sleep to develop and grow well.

Brown Llama lying indoor
Image Credit: Piqsels

Which Animals Sleep Standing Up?

It is sometimes believed that camels, llamas, and alpacas sleep upright, whereas they sleep in the kush position. This may be due to the fact that horses are often seen sleeping standing up in the stables. Moreover, horses are not the only herbivores to have this particular ability. Other animals, such as zebras, moose, bison, giraffes, antelopes, and buffaloes, sleep the same way.

Why Are Horses Able to Sleep Standing Up?

Horses have the ability to block the joints in their legs, namely the kneecaps and thighbones. Thus, the muscles in their legs can support several hundred pounds without flexing and getting tired. Scientists call this characteristic the stay apparatus.

This feature is very practical for equines, as it allows them to escape more quickly if a predator approaches. However, horses can also lie down on the ground to rest when they feel entirely safe.

Black and white horse in the grass
Image Credit: No-longer-here, Pixabay


Final Thoughts

Llamas have many interesting characteristics, but sleeping standing up isn’t one of them! Instead, they sleep with their legs tucked under them and sometimes stretch their necks completely. They are diurnal animals and are used to the harsh conditions of the Andean mountains, which does not prevent them from seeking some shade to take naps when the heat becomes too extreme.

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Featured Image Credit: Noe Besso, Shutterstock