Zoo Snooze: 12 Jaw-Dropping Animal Yawns


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.

Yawning Mandrills

(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!

(images via: Daily Mail UK, HeatherW and 500px)

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.

Yawning Wolves

(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.

Yawning Bunnies

(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.

Yawning Tortoises

(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?

Yawning Fishes

(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.

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