Do you know which of native mammals are nocturnal? In this post, you’ll find out. Read Wild Nights Out, a book by Chris Salisbury who goes off looking for owls and foxes in the dead of night. He brings the unexplored nocturnal dimension to life with lore on badgers, bats and minibeasts. You’ll also learn how to conduct night walks safely. Includes beautiful black-and-white illustrations. Don’t disturb wildlife if gazing at night. Using torches and lights can confuse birds and other wildlife. Just watch from afar in the dark! Some of our most common nocturnal creatures are:
- Foxes can often also be seen in the day, but are most active at dusk or dawn, when they search for food. They are shy but tend to venture into urban areas, as their own habitats have disappeared (they naturally live on rabbits and rats). See why foxes are a good part of nature.
- Hedgehogs are very popular, but are very endangered. See how to save our hedgehogs for lots of ways to help – from making holes (if safe to do so) in fences for hogs to travel, to knowing what not to feed them (milk and bread could kill them).
- Badgers are also lovely and popular, but the government’s disastrous (and scientifically wrong) take on culling them has led to many thousands being killed unnecessarily. See how to stop TB in badgers and cattle to find out more (the answers are already known, but the government won’t listen).
- Bats don’t suck your blood or land in your hair. These are fascinating creatures that have lost habitats due to less pollen (just like bees) and wind turbines which have killed millions. See how to help our bat friends. Baby bats are called pups!
- Frogs & toads are mostly nocturnal (toads often get killed crossing roads as they migrate to the same place. See how to help our frogs & toads (you can even volunteer to be a toad lollipop lady!)
- Owls, mostly tawny owls are the ones you are likely to hear. They have pretty heart faces and a white chest. Did you know that the male tawny owl goes ‘twoooo’ but the female calls ‘twit’. So no owl goes ‘twit-twooo’. It’s a combination of the two! They are in dire need of empty barns to nest in, so do provide homes if you can. Also avoid using rat poison, this is one of the biggest problems (owls eat rats). See how to help our birds of prey.
- Moths are just as beautiful as butterflies, and are nocturnal, they often flit around lights. They like gardens full of plants and night-scented blooms (just like bats). See pet-toxic flowers to avoid in gardens.
- Glowworms (they are not worms, but beetles) light up to try to attract a mate. Females have a brighter glow, they are good for the garden as they eat slugs and snails, with no need for toxic pellets.
- Polecats are hard to spot, but they do live on our land, and eat birds, reptiles and small rodents.
- Beavers are making a big return to our waters, as experts realise how their dam-building can help prevent floods. They have massive teeth that never stop growing, and do most of their gnawing at night.
- Moles spend most of their lives doing a kind of ‘breaststroke’ through the earth to snack on earthworms. See how to help our mysterious garden moles.
- Crickets (you can tell the temperature apparently by listening to a cricket) who chirps accordingly. Count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and then add 37, to get a rough estimate in degrees fahrenheit. Isn’t nature fascinating?
- Hamster (not a good ‘first pet’ for children, as they don’t want to be woken up by inquisitive children during the day, when they are fast asleep). Most also get exhausted ‘running on wheels’ and they are easily injured by little hands.
- Cats (unless a domestic kitty). Cats are naturally nocturnal, but it depends on what kind of cat you have, whether it has settled into your routine, or is still a night owl. Keep cats indoors at dawn and dusk, when birds are feeding.
Dogs are not naturally nocturnal. However, one shelter found that food was going missing from its kitchen each night. So they installed a hidden camera. And found that one resident dog (helped by others) was waiting until night time – then managing to sneak into the kitchen, open the fridge and share the spoils!
Nocturnal Animals in Faraway Lands
While we’re on the subject, let’s look at nocturnal animals in other parts of the world: light pollution can seriously negatively affect their aim to find food, as most navigate by the moon and stars. So the more we leave the world in a natural state, the better it is for them.
Dung beetles for instance, can’t navigate to migrate, if they can’t see the stars. And moths cannot escape predators, if they can’t see where to hide. Fish in the sea often come out of their hidey-holes too early if there is light pollution from boats and marinas etc, and then get exposed and eaten.
- Black rhinos
- Capybara (giant rodents!)
- Hermit crabs (these have been found to perish in the seas, when they are climbing in all the plastic rubbish in the oceans, as they make a habit of finding ‘shells’ of others to sleep and live in.
- Kangaroos (too hot to hop around during the day)
- Jaguar (a South American big cat)
- Koalas (marsupials, rather than bears)
- Leopards & lions
- Pangolin – this is an armoured creature that is critically endangered due to poaching. Some believe its abuse led to COVID in China.
- Spectacled bears (from South America)
- Two-toed sloths (when he wants to wake up!)
24 Hours in Nature offers a fresh look at nature over day and night across the world. Illustrated scenes transport you to different wildlife habitats. From dawn to dusk to night, life on Earth is very busy. Most flowers close after the sun goes down, but did you know that some flowers only bloom at night? Discover:
- How moonflowers open in the evening, and stay open til sunrise
- How bats find food in the dark, and where they hang out!
- Why otters are difficult to spot, even for scientists who study them
- Which buzzing insect has 5 eyes, and can fly 32km an hour!
Nature’s habitats are diverse and changing all the time. The deserts, frozen polar regions, humid rainforests and oceans all challenge plant life, animals, birds and insects – to work and react at different times of day. A stunning book to treasure.