The 15 Laziest Animals in The World

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Published: December 24, 2020

Sure, last weekend, you enjoyed a 32-hour stream-a-thon and are now social media friends with the delivery driver. Still, you’re probably more active than the layabouts who made our 15 laziest animals in the world list!

#15 Laziest Animal: Cuckoo Bird

Cuckoo birds do a lot of flapping around, but they’re lazy parents! Instead of incubating their own eggs, cuckoos lay them in other birds’ nests! It’s known as “brood parasitism,” and practitioners can disguise their shells to resemble the eggs of their “sitters.” Offloading parenting responsibilities? That definitely qualifies as lazy!

A close-up, side profile of a cuckoo bird.
Cuckoo birds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, which is known as “brood parasitism.”

Cuckoo Bird Trivia Fact

Cuckoo birds enjoy a “cosmopolitan distribution,” meaning they live on every continent except Antarctica.

#14 Laziest Animal: Lemur

Lemurs are lethargic loafers who sleep 16 hours a day. Typically, they spend their waking hours alone and eating. But when it’s time to hit the hay, lemurs convene and form sleep pods. 

A close-up of a lemur with its tongue sticking out.
Lemurs sleep for up to 16 hours a day.

Lemur Trivia Fact

Lemurs only live in Madagascar, an island country off Mozambique‘s coast. Click here to learn more about lemurs, one of the most endangered animals on Earth.

#13 Laziest Animal: Pig

Pigs enjoy a good mud frolic. They also value sleep and do it for about 12 to 14 hours a day! Being social animals, pigs love to cuddle up for naps. To ensure they’re happy and healthy, farmers keep their slumber pens dry, balmy, and draft-free.

Two pigs sleeping in a pen.
Pigs sleep between 12 and 14 hours a day.

Pig Trivia Fact

Pigs were the first animals domesticated by humans. Click here to learn more about pigs, which have four toes on each foot.

#12 Laziest Animal: Nurse Shark

Most sharks are perpetual motion machines because their breathing apparatus requires movement. But not the nurse shark, affectionately known as “the couch potato of the sea.” The species can pump water over its gills without moving, allowing individuals to chill on the ocean floor for over half the day — every day. At night, they forage. But nurse sharks don’t require much food, and what they do eat is lazily sucked up, not hunted. 

Close-up of an underwater nurse shark.
The nurse shark can pump water over its gills without moving, allowing individuals to stay on the ocean floor for over half the day.

Nurse Shark Trivia Fact

Nurse sharks have litters of up to 25 pups! Click here to learn more about nurse sharks, which are commonly found in Central American waters.

#11 Laziest Animal: Giant Panda

Giant pandas perfected the art of segmented sleep. The iconic black-and-white bears sleep about 12 hours a day in three-hour stints. Why so much shut-eye? Blame it on the bamboo, their main food source. Pandas love it, but bamboo is low on nutrients, so they must eat at least 44 pounds a day to stay alive! All that chewing and digesting tires out the system.

A giant panda sleeping in a tree.
Bamboo is low on nutrients, so giant pandas must eat at least 44 pounds a day.

Giant Panda Trivia Fact

Giant pandas don’t enjoy meal variety. Instead, bamboo makes up 99 percent of their diet! Click here to learn more about giant pandas, which are losing their habitats at alarming rates.

#10 Laziest Animal: Echidna

Echidnas are prickly, ground-dwelling mammals that sleep 12 hours a day. And who can blame them! The poor echidnas are stuck in Australia’s hot zone, but they can’t sweat or pant to cool themselves down! At night, they wake and slowly forage for food. But once the sun rears its head, it’s back to slumbering in the shade.

An echidna standing in tall, dead grass.
Echidnas live in Australia’s hot zone, so they forage for food at night and sleep during the day in the shade.

Echidna Trivia Fact

Echidnas are one of two mammals that lay eggs. The other is the platypus. Click here to learn more about echidnas, which used to be called the “spiky anteater.”

#9 Laziest Animal: Owl Monkey

The only nocturnal “true monkey,” owl monkeys, with their 17-hour slumbers, easily made our list of laziest animals. Also known as “night monkeys,” they eat and socialize after dark. The vocal primates live in family units consisting of monogamous parents and their dependent offspring. In owl monkey world, dads are the primary caregivers.

An owl monkey in a zoo enclosure.
Owl monkeys are the only nocturnal “true monkey” and sleep for up to 17 hours a day.

Owl Monkey Trivia Fact

Own monkeys have super night vision but can’t see colors.

#8 Laziest Animal: Python

Pythons have fierce reputations, but a closer look at their lifestyle reveals a lazy reptile. The feared slitherers sleep up to 18 hours a day. When awake, they move about as fast as stop-and-go traffic! 

Why so lazy and slow? Pythons only eat once a week, and it takes gobs of energy to digest their wholly swallowed prey. Skin shedding is another energy suck. To prepare, pythons must sleep for an entire week straight!

A yellow and white python with red eyes against a black background.
Pythons only eat once a week, and it requires a lot of energy to digest their wholly swallowed prey.

Python Trivia Fact

Pythons are one of the largest snake species and can reach up to 23 feet and weigh 200 pounds! But they don’t have venom. Instead, pythons squeeze their prey. 

#7 Laziest Animal: Hippopotamus

Considering their gargantuan size, it’s no wonder that hippos fall on the lazy side of the activity scale. The giant mammals sleep 16 to 20 hours a day and nap in large groups. Land or water, hippos aren’t picky, they can nab some shut-eye nearly anywhere! At night, when the sun is out of sight, they lumber around in search of food. When hippos stumble upon a fertile stretch of land, they can stand in the same place for five hours and graze! Talk about meditative!

Two hippos sleeping on a concrete surface within a zoo enclosure.
Hippos sleep up to 20 hours a day on land or in water.

Hippo Trivia Fact

Hippos tip the scales at over 7,000 pounds! Click here to read more about hippopotamus, which don’t eat meat.

#6 Laziest Animal: House Cat

Cats are lots of things — and one of them is lazy. Sure, when awake and catting, they’re agile, quick, and a pleasure to watch. But domesticated felines are only up for about eight hours a day. And of those eight hours, they lounge for six or seven! Researchers believe the house cat sleep pattern is a genetic legacy from when they hunted on the Sahara and needed to conserve energy to catch prey.

A grey cat sleeping on a yellow couch.
Scientists believe the house cat sleep pattern is a legacy from when they hunted on the Sahara and needed to conserve energy to catch prey.

House Cat Trivia Fact

Cats’ hearing is five times better than human adults. Click here to learn more about house cats, which were first domesticated by the ancient Egyptians.

#5 Laziest Animal: Opossum

They move at glacial speeds and sleep 18 to 20 hours a day. They’re opossums, and once they find a cozy spot with nearby nourishment, they don’t budge.

An opossum resting on a tree branch.
Opossums sleep for up to 20 hours a day.

Opossum Trivia Fact

Opossums are the only marsupial in the United States and Canada. Click here to learn more about opossums, which have more teeth than any other land animal in North America.

#4 Laziest Animal: Sloth

Sloths are the poster children for laziness. The notoriously slow-moving tree-hangers sleep about 20 hours a day. When awake, their speed is set to molasses. But credit where credit is due: two-toed sloths are marginally faster than three-toed ones.

A sloth hanging from a tree branch.
Sloths sleep for up to 20 hours a day and move incredibly slowly.

Sloth Trivia Fact

Genetically, sloths are closer to armadillos than monkeys. Click here to learn more about sloths, which only go to the bathroom once a week!

#3 Laziest Animal: Koala 

Koalas are the cutest — and they also rank among the laziest! The adorable fur balls only wake for two to six hours a day! Like giant pandas, Koalas’ near-constant state of slumber is food-related. Since most of their diet is eucalyptus, a super-high-fiber food, digesting it requires all the little koalas’ energies.  

A koala holding on to a tree branch.
Koalas are only awake for two to six hours a day.

Koala Bear Trivia Fact

People often call koalas “koala bears,” but it’s a misnomer. Koalas are marsupials, not bears. Click here to learn more about koalas, which have opposable thumbs.

#2 Laziest Animal: Lion

Lions may be the kings and queens on the jungle scene, but they’re also pretty lazy. Did you know that lions sleep 18 to 20 hours a day? But it’s understandable because Lion habitats are hot, and hunting big prey requires tons of energy. Sometimes, to prepare, they snooze for a full 24! 

A lion cuddling with her cub on the ground.
Lions sleep for up to 20 hours a day because their habitat is hot, and hunting big prey requires a lot of energy.

Lion Trivia Fact

Lions are very social animals that live in familial groups called prides. Click here to learn more about lions, whose roars can be heard five miles away.

#1 Laziest Animal: Pygmy Blue Tongue Lizard

Pygmy blue tongue lizards don’t enjoy interacting with the rest of the world, and they’re hyper-cautious about predation. The skittish pygmy blue tongues spend their lives hanging out in spider caves and don’t leave unless forced. For sustenance, they sit with their mouths open and wait for food to fall in. The same goes for water; they rely on raindrops landing on their tongues.

A pygmy blue tongue lizard standing on a piece of wood with its tongue out.
Pygmy blue tongue lizards sit with their mouths open and wait for food to fall in.

Pygmy Blue Tongue Lizard Trivia Fact

Scientists believed the pygmy blue tongue lizard was extinct in the not too distant past — but it turns out the sneaky reptiles were just hiding! 

Laziest Animal Quiz

We love animal quizzes! So here’s one focusing on the laziest animals on Earth!

  1. Which animal is lazy because it eats lots of eucalypti, which takes tons of energy to digest.
    1. Giant Pandas
    2. Lemurs
    3. Sloths
    4. Koalas
  2. Humans domesticated which of the following lazy animals first :
    1. Pigs
    2. Cats
    3. Cuckoo Bird
    4. Python
  3. Why do lions sometimes sleep for 24 hours straight?
    1. To prepare for a hunt
    2. To digest
    3. Because they are jungle royalty who can do anything they want
    4. Nobody knows
  4. How much do hippos weigh?
    1. About 1,000 pounds
    2. Over 7,000 Pounds
    3. 500 to 800 Pounds
    4. Over 20,000 pounds
  5. How many times a week do pythons eat?
    1. Seven
    2. One
    3. Three
    4. Fourteen

And that’s our list of the laziest animals on Earth. Next up: The oldest animals alive right now!

Answer Key: 1) 4 | 2) 1 | 3) 1 | 4) 2 | 5) 2