Tired of waking up tired? Your weary query is wasted on these 12 sleepy creatures who appear to be wide open to the prospect of a good night’s rest. Appearances may deceive, however, as animal behaviorists have found that yawning serves a number of purposes besides announcing an oncoming snooze.
(image via: DevSnippets)
Mandrils may yawn for a variety of reasons including the need to absorb more oxygen, showing a threat display to a rival, or simply that they’re sleepy. In the case of the individual above, any excuse is fine by us!
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Mandrills aren’t baboons and judging by the number of images of them yawning, they’re tired of being confused for them. Instead, these strikingly colorful primates are the world’s largest monkeys with males typically growing much larger than females. The males are also much more colorful, an attribute used to impress both potential mates and challengers to their dominant status.
(image via: Alvalentino/PBase)
Wolves display an astounding number of expressions, most of which are involved in the ongoing process of rank order jockeying within packs and between individuals. Solitary wolves have also been caught in the act of yawning, however, often just after waking and accompanied by a luxurious stretch.
(images via: CaptionWit and International Wolf Center)
One of the most common rumors about yawning is that it’s contagious, a physiological positive feedback mechanism meant to solidify group dynamics in social situations. This may be so: so-called “group yawns” have been noted in intelligent social animals like canines and chimpanzees as well as humans.
(image via: Can I Keep It?)
Ehh, what’s up Doc? In the image above, the Doc just might be an obstetrician veterinarian – try saying that six times in a row! Yawning is a bodily function that starts early, even in rabbits if the world-weary newborn above is any indication.
(images via: BuzzFeed, Avatar World and Arkive)
Racing tortoises all the time can tire a hare out and a good yawn is a great way to celebrate in the victory circle. Rabbit owners appear to be particularly enamored with their pets’ yawning style, which usually includes a stretch with the front paws extended and clasped together.
(image via: Birds As Art)
If you thought racing tired the hares out, consider how the tortoises feel. Even reptiles yawn it seems, and some more than other. Could it be their cold blood and slower metabolism that goads these guys to gape or is it merely an age-related reflex?
(images via: Baillment.com, RU.nl and Stabone/PBase)
For a creature who spends most (OK, all) of its time sheltering in its shell, tortoises really know how to open up when the mood hits them. In related news, tortoises have moods… who knew?
(image via: Heiko Fritz)
Fish are champion yawners… or at least, they do a worthy approximation of it. More likely, fish “yawn” when they see some reason to ingest as much of the ocean in front of them as they can, and usually that’s because there’s a tasty meal of seafood occupying said patch of ocean.
(images via: Underwater Festival 2011 and Oceana.org)
Some fish employ what looks like a yawn as their primary method of eating, and they don’t even have to be in motion to make it happen. Take the Frogfish above – when they open their mouths exceptionally wide in an exceedingly short time, a relative vacuum is created that sucks the prey into the creatures’ yawning (literally) jaws.
Yawning Naked Mole Rats
(image via: Arkive)
Just about any creature with a mouth can yawn, even, say Naked Mole Rats. Living underground serving a demanding queen can be tiring indeed, and these bizarre creatures have plenty of experience opening wide: how do you think they dig those tunnels and burrows, anyway?
(images via: Randomdotfm and All the World Animals)
Human celebrities who make a living looking good sometimes let their guard down for fortunate paparazzi by cracking a yawn at the wrong time and wrong place. That’s bad, and it could impact on their careers if the yawn is especially awkward and/or exposes various oral and dental features normally airbrushed out. Naked Mole Rats have no such worries: if anything, breaking out a big-ass yawn isn’t gonna make ‘em look any uglier than they do already.
Yawning Arctic Foxes
(image via: Charles Glatzer c/o PhoenixBlackheart)
Unlike their larger cousins the Arctic Wolves, Arctic Foxes change the color of their coats from season to season. They do share the act of yawning with their canine relatives, however.
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Arctic Foxes are common in most northern tundra environments but not southern ones: there are no “Antarctic Foxes”. In their traditional ranges they’re formidable predators of lemmings, bird eggs and baby seals while the foxes themselves are preyed on by Polar Bears and Arctic Wolves.
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Snakes raise the art of yawning to new heights… or should that be “widths”? These legless reptiles have evolved hinged jaws that can expand if some heavy-duty swallowing is required. Try gulping down a whole goat sometime and you’ll gain a new appreciation for snakes.
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Pet-owners have reported their snakes yawn on occasion with no other obvious motive in mind but scientists think otherwise: the confined creatures may simply be trying to cool down their brains. Of course, if the snake in question happens to be shaking its tail like a rattle and its wide-open jaws feature a pair of sharp, dripping fangs, we suggest you stop observing and start running!
(image via: Legalectric)
Hungry hungry hippos? With jaws like these, you’d better just hope he (or she) is merely tired. Hippos are the Earth’s third-largest land mammal after the Elephant and Rhinoceros, and aged males can weigh close to 10,000 pounds.
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Hippos may yawn when they’re tired but their famous fearsome gape is more typically used by bull males to threaten rivals and those who would dare infringe upon their territory. A hippo’s yawn has been measured at around 150 degrees… that’s hot!
(image via: On The Wing Photography)
The yawning Rough-legged Hawk above looks he’s had a rough night, or at least a busy one. Birds yawn, or at least appear to yawn though they may simply be trying to keep their last meal from flying the coop, so to speak.
(images via: Kulikov, Girish_Nayyar and Photoity)
Baby birds gape when their parents bring them food and birds of prey may spread their beaks in a threat display but neither are actually yawns. Keep that in mind next time you get too close to an Eagle’s nest and the hungry, well-guarded young Eaglets within.
Yawning Tasmanian Devils
(image via: Snowy2909)
Tired, or just happy to see me? If you’re another Tasmanian Devil, the answer is the latter – without the “happy”. These ferocious carnivorous marsupials greet each other by biting one another’s faces while screaming and shrieking loud enough to raise… do we have to say it?
(images via: Stephen Colquitt, SuperStock, Greeting Card Universe and FlickeFlu/Gatordr)
Sadly, Tasmanian Devils may be following their larger relative, the Tasmanian Tiger, into extinction though in the former’s case humans can’t be blamed. It seems that the Devils are transmitting a highly infectious and ultimately fatal form of facial cancer with their bites. Attempts are being made to isolate uninfected populations of Tasmanian Devils on islands until the wildfire of cancer on the Tasmanian mainland burns itself out. Hang in there, Taz!
(image via: Ads of the World)
Leave it to the King of Beasts to show off the most majestic yawns! Lions are generally nocturnal and are frequently seen in the wild relaxing with their pride, sated with food. Close quarters and drowsiness during the hottest part of the day leads to a yawn, then another, and then a few more accompanied by quite cat-like stretching.
(images via: Cute Heaven, The Telegraph, National Geographic and FlickeFlu/Gatordr)
Talk about living dangerously! Someone should tell that butterfly the lion whose nose it’s landed on is yawning, not sleeping. What’s unstated is whether the lion is beginning or ending his yawn: small potatoes to you or me but truly a life & death question for the butterfly. By the way, butterflies do NOT yawn so at least the lion’s safe.