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Top 5 Nocturnal  Species

There are many animals that stalk and scamper through the darkness of night and sleep during daylight, their behaviour is often a mystery, as the lack of light makes them hard to observe. In this article we talk you through 5 of the most interesting nocturnal species!

1. Philippine Tarsier

The Philippine tarsier is a strange-looking primate native to; you guessed it, the Philippines! This weird and wonderful animal has huge round eyes that are the same size as its brain, perfect for seeing in the dark! The body length of this species is just 9-16cm, meaning it is among the smallest of primates. An interesting trait of tarsiers is that their eyes are fixed into their skull, this means they cannot move within their sockets, instead these animals are able to rotate their heads 180˚ in order to view their surroundings!

Flickr | Adam Brill2. Ocelot

The ocelot is a medium-sized cat that can be found in parts of Central and South America. Their fur is marked with a mixture of stripes and spots, giving them an unusual appearance. These cats emerge around twilight and are active throughout the night when they use their time to hunt animals such as armadillos, opossums and birds. As with many of the animals in this list, ocelots have exceptional sight and hearing, allowing them remain expert hunters even in the dark. Ocelots spend daylight hours sleeping in trees, making them difficult to spot.

Flickr | Valerie3. Townsend’s big-eared bat

This bat is named ‘big-eared’ for good reason, with a total body length of 10cm and ears measuring up to 4cm, they really are oversized! This quirky species can be found in western USA, as well as parts of Mexico where it inhabits a wide range of habitats from forests to deserts. They hunt at night and generally specialize in preying on moths and other small flying insects. This species is known as a ‘whisper bat’ this is due to the fact that it echolocates at a lower frequency than other species. It is thought the reason for this is to avoid alarming their insect prey, as moths are able to detect higher frequency echolocation.

Flickr | J. N. Stuart4. Elf owl

Considered to be the smallest owl in the world, the elf owl measures just 12.5 – 14.5cm with a wingspan of 27cm! This tiny species is native to Mexico and the south-west of the United States. This owl has a unique appearance with white markings on its face, above and below its eyes. Like many owls, the elf owl has oversized eyes, which allow it to hunt and navigate effectively in the dark. Elf owls are not aggressive and as a defense they will often play dead or attempt to camouflage themselves against the bark of a tree. This species is happy living in a hot desert climate and can even be found living in cacti!
Flickr | Dominic Sherony5. Fennec fox

The fennec fox is a desert dwelling species found in the Sahara, it has characteristic ears that grow to over half of its height. These giant ears are useful for temperature regulation in the heat of the desert, as well as for detecting even the slightest movements of its prey. These foxes live in extensive burrows under the ground and emerge at night to hunt rodents, insects and birds. They have kidneys adapted to desert life and are able to go without drinking water, simply gaining their water supply from their food.

Flickr | Daniel RamirezSo there you have it, 5 awesome animals that wake up when you go to sleep! All of these animals have had to adapt to a world of darkness, we’ve seen huge the eyes that help owls and tarsiers see with minimum light and the giant ears of the fennec fox and Townsend’s big-eared bat that help these animals detect their prey without even seeing it! It’s safe to say nocturnal animals are pretty extraordinary.

By Gabrielle Brooks - Online Journalism Intern

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