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Animal Sleeping Habits

May 14, 2014

Animal Sleeping Habits

Everybody is used to pets who prefer to curl up on the bed or sleep on the couch, but what about other animals which make their own beds? Are they as picky as we are about where and what they sleep on?

A new study published in the Public Library of Science (PLoS ONE) focused on chimpanzees and studied how they made their beds (technically chimpanzees sleep in ‘nests’) and what materials they favoured to sleep in. Researchers from the University of Nevada studied 1 800 nests built by chimps in the Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve in Uganda to determine which of the seven most commonly used tree species were most popular with chimps.

The researchers found that the 74 percent of the nests made by the chimps contained rare ironwood which makes up only around 10 percent of the trees surrounding the animals habitat. This preference may indicate that the chimps prefer to use ironwood over other woods. Researchers suggest that the Ugandan ironwood tree’s wood is the stiffest with greatest bending strength, while the leaves had the smallest leaves and smallest spaces between leaves, suggesting that they made better protection from predators and parasites as well as increasing the comfort and temperature regulation of the nests.

Closer to home, many of us will have noticed that our dogs also have odd sleeping habits such as going around in circles before lying down. Researchers suggest that this might be a throwback to before dogs were domesticated they would need to create their own sleeping areas as doggy baskets and couches are rare in the wild. By trampling down grass or snow, dogs not only create a more comfortable sleeping place but also drive away smaller critters. While most dogs today don’t need to do this any more, this behaviour could be hardwired into them.

Cats on the other hand are infamous for their ability to sleep anywhere. Especially if it is somewhere that you want to be. How many times have you been forced to stay sitting with a bursting bladder because your kitty is comfortable? Or had to stop your tabby from trying to sleep on your laptop while you were trying to work on it? This is because cats are constantly looking for the best place to sleep in and around the house. They are constantly on the look out for a place that is either warm or cool depending on the weather or they might be looking for places that give them peace and quiet especially if there are other animals, especially puppies, around the house.

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