The Laziest Animals In The World

There are some animals that are known for their hyperactive, excitable lifestyles. Think about it: when certain animals, like rabbits or dogs, come to mind, you may automatically think about their high energy levels.

However, the same cannot be said for all animals. In fact, some animals are just downright lazy, spending their days fast asleep, inactive and living a life of leisure.

This piece shines a light on the more idle and lazy animal species on the planet.

10. Cuckoo Bird

Reproduction: one of the fundamentals of the circle of life. Animals are born, mature, and then raise offspring of their own. Or do they? As it turns out, some of the laziest animals actually have other animals, or even other species, raise their offspring for them!

Common cuckoo, fed by his adoptive mother - a red robin!
Common cuckoo, fed by his adoptive mother – a red robin!

Cuckoo birds engage in a behavior known as brood parasitism.

This means that instead of building their own nests and raising their offspring until they’re ready to set off on their own, cuckoo birds will actually lay their eggs in another bird’s nest.

The unsuspecting “mother” will raise these young cuckoos as if they were her own, freeing up the actual mother of any responsibility. Some research suggest that the adoptive parents ‘accept baby cuckoos into their nests because they fear violent retaliation if they don’t’. 1

9. Nurse Shark

Usually, sharks are seen as the opposite as lazy.

After all, with the way that their gills function, they have to always be on the move in order to force water into their gills and supply their body with oxygen.

You might be wondering,   if the nurse shark has to swim to breathe and hunt to catch its food, how is it a lazy animal? Well, this is because the nurse shark actually doesn’t do either of these things!

Lazy Nurse Shark

Nurse sharks have a unique way of breathing that pumps water over their gills so that they don’t have to stay in motion. Not only this but they’re also not active hunters.

As a result, rather than chase down prey, they open their mouth to filter feed for small organisms 2

8. Giant Panda

The giant panda is known to sleep up to 12 hours a day, although not all at once. That’s half of their day spent asleep! This is one lazy animal whose rest may be well-earned, however.

Giant Panda Facts

The giant panda’s main food source is bamboo. However, this isn’t rich in nutrients, so they have to eat up to 44 pounds a day in order to receive the nutrients needed to survive.

Foraging, chewing, and digesting burn calories and use up energy, which means time spent not eating is spent sleeping! 3

7. Python

Speaking of animals that can sleep almost entire days away, pythons are known to sleep up to 18 hours a day!

Python being lazy

When they are awake and active, they can be seen engaging with their environment, slithering about and exploring their cage or habitat. Pythons also don’t eat often, usually surviving off of only one or so meals each week.

When it comes down to big life changes, such as a major shed, pythons are known to sleep for even longer. In order to prepare, they’ve been sleeping as much as an entire week straight.

6. Hippopotamus

Hippos are known as sleepy, lazy animals. They’re not picky about where they sleep either. They’ve been known to fall asleep both on land and in water, and they can sleep for up to 20 hours a day.

Hippo muck spreading!

When they’re not sleeping, hippos are still one of the laziest animals.

This is because rather than moving out and about to soak up the little time they leave for activities, they’ll often find an area to graze and stand there for hours on end.

5. Opossum

Opossums are amazing animals that are extremely beneficial for the environment. However, that doesn’t stop them from being one of the laziest animals.

Just like the hippopotamus, the opossum can sleep up to 20 hours a day. Even when they are awake, however, they’re not exploring much.

Lazy Opossum

Opossums like to find one area with a source of food and water, and they won’t leave it.

4. Sloth

There’s no animal quite as well known for being one of the top laziest animals like the sloth. When you think of slow moving animals, the sloth is probably the first to come to mind. They can spend over 80 percent of their days sleeping.

Sloth asleep!

As for moving, the sloth doesn’t do much of it. When they do, it’s at a pace that hardly seems like they’re getting anywhere! Certain species of sloths are faster than others, however.

3. Koala

Koalas are one of the cutest animals on this list, and can sleep for 20 hours a day.

Because their eucalyptus diet has limited nutrients and calories, koalas spend most of their time sitting and eating – or just fast asleep!

Koala sleeping

While they are called koala ‘bears’, they are not bears but marsupials. Koalas have a specially padded butt for all that sitting and sleeping! 4

2. Lion

Top predators, it doesn’t seem like the lion would rank as one of the top ten laziest animals. However, much like our beloved house cats, lions like to spend a majority of their days sleeping, basking in the sunlight, and grooming themselves.

Lions Sleeping!

On average, they sleep up to 20 hours a day. However, when it comes time to prepare for a large hunt, don’t be surprised to see them sleep an entire day away!

1. Pygmy Blue Tongue Skink

Not only is the pygmy blue tongue skink one of the laziest animals, but it is also one of the shyest. It rarely leaves its nest, and often just pokes its head out!

You may think that lizards would be excellent at digging their own burrows, but they don’t even try – instead they just take burrows already made by large spiders, and other creatures.

Pygmy Blue Tongue Skink!
Photo credit: © Antoni Camozzato (

Here, they don’t hunt for food or water either. Instead, they sit with their mouths open and wait for passing insects, or droplets of water to fall right in!

They do vacate their burrow sometimes, though – when they need the toilet. Researchers found that on average they’d travel 68cm away to do their business, before quickly retreating to their burrow.5

Final Thoughts

So that concludes our laziest animals on earth list.

There’s no shortage of animals that seemingly unwilling to expend energy. Which when you think about it, makes complete sense for an animal that needs to use energy wisely.

Expending energy means it will require more calories, and food for many can be hard to come by and fraught with danger.

Inactivity can be down to adaptations to their environment, such as their diet with limited nutrients which affects physiology, or keeping still to avoid predation. 6

The word ‘lazy’ can be viewed as an insult or negative, but many of the lazy animals listed are smart, and improving their own chances of survival in the world.

Fact Sources & References

  1. Maria Abou Chakra (2014), “Plastic behaviors in hosts promote the emergence of retaliatory parasites“, PubMed.
  2. (2019), “Creature Feature: Nurse Shark“, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
  3. “Giant Panda 101”, National Geographic.
  4. Australia Koala Foundation. “The Koalas’ Diet & Digestion.” Accessed January 24, 2022.
  5. Tim Low (2017), “Fishing for Australia’s ‘laziest’ lizards“, Australian Geographic.
  6. Michael Marshall (2022), “Some individual animals are really lazy. How do they get away with it?“, New Scientist.