If you’ve ever watched your chickens nap, you may have heard them wake up with a big “Peep” and then looking around side to side like a scary monster was chasing them. This strange behavior may have you wondering, “do chickens dream?”
Do Chickens Dream?
Chickens, just like all birds and mammals, have a REM phase of sleep, so they have dreams. No one can tell what chickens dream about, but they will most likely dream about things that affect their daily lives, just like humans.
We’ll take a closer look at chickens’ sleeping habits and how their dreaming differs from humans. But first, you need to understand how chickens sleep.
What Happens When Chickens Sleep?
Chickens love to sleep in the same spot every night, and if you keep the coop comfortable and healthy, they will enjoy their sleeping time. Some will even nap throughout the day. While sleeping, they won’t eat or drink, so you don’t have to worry about waking them up during their naps to feed them.
When they fall asleep, chickens become 100% unaware of their surroundings, so they will represent an easy target for predators.
Because they know that they’re vulnerable, chickens will choose a high spot to roost to protect themselves from predators like foxes, weasels, dogs, and rodents.
Some of them will also ensure that there’s protection over their heads to protect them from owls and other aerial predators. Your chickens will fall asleep outside if you don’t let them into the coop.
It means that if the weather is cold, your chickens can die because of the wind or snow. Providing your chickens with proper shelter will be the best option.
If you want to catch a chicken, you can wait until it’s dark and wait for a couple of hours. After a while, you can go without a flashlight, and you’ll be able to catch the chicken easily.
Why Do Chickens Experience Dreams?
Emotions that we experience in our daily lives are stored in our subconscious and then reflected in our dreams. It is why chickens will most probably have dreams filled with images and emotions from their daily lives.
Chickens can also dream about the things that they want to achieve. They might dream about flying, laying more eggs, or finding more food in a comfortable and relaxing coop.
Trauma and fear can also have an impact on dreams. It means, if one of your chickens were attacked by a predator or were involved in a severe situation, it might suffer from nightmares.
You might see the chicken twitching while it’s sleeping, showing that it doesn’t feel comfortable.
Do Chickens Experience REM (Rapid Eye Movement?)
Like us, chickens go through the REM (rapid eye movement) during sleep, like humans. During REM, the eyes move around rapidly in different directions. Most dreaming occurs during the REM stage.
During the REM stage, the brain paralyzes your muscles, so you don’t act out the dreams. However, unlike humans, Chickens also go through a particular phase during their sleep that humans don’t go through. It is called the unihemispheric slow-wave sleep or USWS phase.
Avian Non-REM and REM Sleep
According to this study, birds experience two types of sleep similar to all mammals: REM and non-REM sleep.
The NREM state, also referred to as USWS (unihemispheric slow-wave sleep), allows half of the brain to get rest while the other half remains on alert for predators.
Chickens can sleep with one eye open, being partially awake to protect themselves safe from predators.
It means that chickens can be asleep and awake at the same time!
Like us, chickens experience REM movement, which is the stage where dreams occur. The difference is they experience the unihemispheric slow-wave sleep, which helps them stay alert during their sleep.
If your chickens wake up yelling or making a lot of noise when nodding off, it could be because they have had a bad dream. It could also mean they don’t feel safe in their coop, and you should ensure no predators can get in while they sleep.