Nocturnal animals are those animals that come out only at night and spend most of the daytime resting or sleeping. Some however are often seen during the day but they are more likely to be active at night. That is not to say that nocturnal animals are active all night. They have alternating periods of resting and eating.
They possess highly developed senses that do not only allow them to avoid predators during the day but it helps to hunt live animals at night. Nocturnal species must have advanced senses, at least one of the senses—hearing, taste, sight, touch, or smell.
Facts about Nocturnal Animals
Life in the dark is so fascinating. We know that but only nocturnal animals believe it!
In a moonless night, many animals go active but they are rarely heard or seen and thus biologists have yet to understand the behavior and habits of most night animals.
See also: List of Nocturnal Mammals
In order to find food or search for mate at night the animals must have highly developed sense of smell and taste which nocturnal animals do possess. Their adaptations to survive at night have admired the conservationists for years. One such animal is barn owl that is able to hunt down little mouse in absolute darkness simply by hearing the tiny sounds mouse makes as it eats grass. Isn’t it unbelievable? For us yes it is!
Predators of Live Animals
All nocturnal animals are extremely lucky because studies show that half of the living vertebrates come out at night. That is to say it increases the availability of food for animals, let alone large mammals—if not predation.
Many large-sized nocturnal mammals are thought to prey on live animals. One reason might be that the nocturnal animals have keen vision while the prey animals don’t.
Prominent among the predators are lions and they kill wildebeest, zebras, impalas, and antelopes. All these herbivorous mammals have poor eyesight which is why lions often take them at night. But at the same time these zebras and antelopes are also nocturnal animals aren’t they? Few of them may be crepuscular. It means that not all nocturnal animals have highly developed senses. Nevertheless, animals that become the prey for the nocturnal predators may not be nocturnal themselves.
Still there are animals that come out at night just to avoid predators. They feel safe coming moving at night for a simple reason that their predators are diurnal. Large Japanese Field Mouse is a classic example as it emerges at night when the birds of prey go home.
Similarly there are many diurnal species that shows nocturnal behavior only to escape predators. Seabirds and sea turtles get to their breeding sites only at night because at night their offspring are less likely to be killed.
Many animals are entirely nocturnal and they are highly sensitive to daylight. The northern insectivorous bats are strictly nocturnal—they will never fly during the day.
Like lizards, many venomous snakes emerge at night and they have highly developed sense of taste. Snakes flick out their tongues quite consistently to follow the animal’s trail in the darkness.