Humans consider switching into nightclothes and wriggling under the blanket as the light fades. However, for some living creatures, the absence of the sun signals the start of their day. Nocturnal organisms are those that are most energetic at night. They scavenge, feed, and roam in the safety of the night. Cats and owls are well-known night owls. However, many other animals follow a similar pattern.

Nocturnal species have enhanced physical characteristics to move more proficiently in the shadows. The pupils dilate, and the eyes get more prominent. Owl Eyes, for instance, are so large that they cannot move within the socket, but their large pupils allow them to gather more light to see in the dark. Below you will discover a list of 15 nocturnal animals in the world.

Table of Contents

1. Pangolins

Pangolins | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
Found InIndian subcontinent
What do they eat?Ants, termites and larvae
IUCN statusCritically Endangered 

Photo by Louis Mornaud

Because pangolins are isolated, nocturnal, and reclusive, experts find it inconvenient to investigate them in nature, and many questions regarding their behavior and lifestyle remain unanswered. Pangolins, often confused for reptiles, are essentially mammals with plates covering their entire body. 

If confronted by an attacker, a pangolin will hide its head with its front limbs, keeping only the plates revealed. You can discover these one-of-a-kind creatures in Africa and Asia. They are, regrettably, one of the most heavily traded mammals.

2. Raccoons

Raccoons | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
Found InNorth America
What do they eat?Fruits, berries, nuts, fish, frogs
IUCN statusLeasst concern

Raccoons are night-loving mammals originally belonging to North America. They are known for their intellectual prowess, dexterous front paws, and facial mask. Their gray coats are made up of compact underfur that keep them warm in extreme cold. 

Raccoons evolved from coniferous and combined woodlands and have expanded their environments to include high mountains, coastlines, and urban centers. Raccoons are typically nocturnal, but they will occasionally be operative during the day to take advantage of the abundant feedstuffs. When supplies are readily available, these omnivores can build effective personal preferences for food choices.

3. Coyotes

Coyotes | Image Credit – Aaron Brewer
Found InNorth America 
What do they eat?Insects, amphibians, fish, small reptiles
IUCN statusLeast concern

Even as Coyotes can be seen during the day, they love roaming about in the dark. After dark, you might hear their resonating howls and wails tearing the darkness in the woodlands. Coyotes can be found in various habitats, such as forests, mountain peaks, terrains, and sometimes even metropolises throughout the United States. The coyote is a familiar figure in Native American mythology, usually satisfying the stereotype of a cunning prankster. The role is ideal for coyotes because they are savvy hunters.

4. Kinkajous

Kinkajous | Image Credit – Flickr
Found InTropical forests of Central and South America
What do they eat?Fruit and small mammals
IUCN statusThreatened

Countless species rely on sensory experiences other than the field of vision to survive at night, but the kinkajou has evolved eyes and can see perfectly in pitch blackness. These arboreal organisms nap in groups in tree branches across the South and Central American tropical rainforest. They employ their prehensile tails to maneuver vegetation in quest of fruit. 

They can, however, flip their feet 180 degrees to render circumnavigating the forest coverings even simpler. And, despite possessing pointy teeth and claws like large predators, they eat only fruit. On a brighter note, Kinkajous play an essential role in the tropical forest biosphere by dispersing seeds.

5. Deer

Deer on Green Grass Field
Deer on Green Grass Field | Image Credit – Elina Sazonova
Found InEvergreen temperate forests 
What do they eat?Green vegetations
IUCN statusNot specified

Deer are predominantly crepuscular, implying they are most operative at nightfall or early morning. However, deer will frequently wander freely at night to prevent interaction with humans or other possible threats. Even as deer have a poor visual sense in the daytime, their vision dramatically improves in the evening, enabling them to see much better than the average person. The composition of their retina that allows this makes them glisten when light passes through them at night.

6. Howling Wolf

Howling Wolf
Howling Wolf | Image Credit – Adriaan Greyling
NameHowling Wolf
Found InCanada and America
What do they eat?Large hoofed mammals such as deer, elk, bison, and moose
IUCN statusLeast concern

When you think of a wolf, the first thing that comes to your imagination is probably a howling wolf in front of the Moonlight. However, there really is no such link between wolves and Moon. The gray wolves only bark at bedtime since they are active at night. Gray wolves’ ascending howls can travel up to 16 kilometers. 

So it all comes down to transmitting calls over vast distances at the most proper protruding perspective. The gray wolves use the calls to communicate and draw a line in their region. The gray wolf is the planet’s largest wolf genus. 

They can grow 3-4 feet long and measure up to 65 kg. In the dark, the gray wolves get more energetic. They have an outstanding nocturnal vision and tracking ability. The cold nighttime temperature allows gray wolves to conserve energy.

7. Luna Moth

Luna Moth
Luna Moth | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
NameLuna Moth
Found InNorth America, from east of the Great Plains in the United States
What do they eat?Foliage of walnuts, hickories, pecan, persimmon
IUCN statusNot Evaluated

This stunning lime-green creature is one of North America’s most giant moths. Its title comes from both its preference for nightfall and the design of its wings, which mimic a sickle moon. The Luna Moth, which has a life expectancy of less than a year and sustains on plants, can be found along the east coast, from southern Canada to Florida. 

According to Science Magazine, the Luna Moth’s massive flaps can protect it from various attackers, including bats, whose infrasound focuses on the wings instead of more critical body parts.

8. Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil
Tasmanian Devil | Image Credit – David Clode
NameTasmanian Devil
Found InState of Tasmania
What do they eat?Frogs, birds, fish, and insects
IUCN statusEndangered

The Tasmanian Devil is a predatory mammal only found in the Australian island province of Tasmania. They are nocturnal creatures. These devils are around the size of a puppy with a plump and athletic physique, dark fur, a stinky odor, a loud and terrifying shriek, and aggression when eating. 

Because of the animal’s enormous neck and head, it can deliver some of the most potent bites per unit of muscle mass of any existing terrestrial mammal carnivore. Devils are not monogamous, and their reproductive cycle is very combative, leading to several violent conflicts.

9. Flying Squirrels

Flying Squirrels
Flying Squirrels | Image Credit – Flickr
NameFlying Squirrels
Found InNorth America down into Central America
What do they eat?Fruits and nuts, insects, small birds
IUCN statusCritically endangered

The North American flying squirrel, despite its reputation, cannot fly. Instead, these tiny organisms use the membrane behind their legs and arms as a parachute to float through the wind, enabling them to go approximately 45 meters per glide. 

These animals are difficult to spot since they never venture out for the day. However, if you see one Southern flying squirrel, there’s a good chance you’ll see many! They are gregarious creatures who tend to travel in bunches. 

10. Porcupine

Porcupine | Image Credit – Anca Silvia Orosz
Found InSouthern Asia and the Middle East.
What do they eat?Sweet potatoes, bamboo shoots, beans, nuts
IUCN statusLeast Concern

This prickly wanderer is nocturnal and has evolved to protect itself against all the other night-hunting predators. Although porcupine populations in Europe, Asia, and Africa are exclusively nocturnal, those in North and South America are more flexible with their habits and can be seen sometimes in the daytime. Porcupines can climb trees pretty efficiently, despite their lethargic and sluggish appearance, just in case their spikes aren’t enough to keep predators at bay.

11. Fennec Fox

Three Brown Foxes Lying on Gray Rock
Three Brown Foxes Lying on Gray Rock | Image Credit – Zetong Li
NameFennec Fox
Found InNorth Africa
What do they eat?Insects and birds
IUCN statusLeast Concern

The fennec fox is among the most charming desert dwellers due to its small size and appealing characteristics, but you will only see it if you go out in the dark. Diurnal carnivores such as hawks and hyenas pose the greatest danger to fennec foxes; thus, they congregate in tunnels underneath the dunes at night. 

These subsurface shelters also protect them from the scorching and blistering heat, and they only go above the surface to feed when darkness comes and temperature drops. Their nightly excursions might bring them to beetles or mice as readily as fruits, plants, and roots because they are omnivores. Luckily, the fennec fox derives all of its water from its diet.

12. Indian Flying Fox

Indian Flying Fox
Indian Flying Fox | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
NameIndian Flying Fox
Found InIndian Subcontinent
What do they eat?Fruits or drink nectar from flowers
IUCN statusLeast concern

The Indian Flying Fox is one of the planet’s most giant bats, also referred to as the Indian Fruit Bat. And the second name seems to make a lot of sense because it’s obviously not a fox! Its red, fox-like coat is responsible for the fox aspect. Sadly, because it feasts mostly on fruits, it is perceived as a threat to fruit fields. 

Indian Flying Foxes, like Spiny Mice, are highly gregarious creatures, and clusters of them would often assemble in a hierarchical system on one branch. The dominant one swings from the upper branches, whereas the lowest-ranked swing from the lower branches, and this arrangement is generally male-dominated.

13. Opossum

Virginia Opossum Beside a Metal Railing
Virginia Opossum Beside a Metal Railing | Image Credit – Skyler Ewing
Found InUnited States, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Canada
What do they eat?Fruit, grains, and insects
IUCN statusLeast concern

The opossum is common in residential neighborhoods at nighttime, and if you keep bird grains, dog food, or any other goodies out, don’t be shocked when you see one looking around for something to eat. But don’t fret: these critters are everything you want in your garden. 

The opossum is an excellent pest management tool since it eats worms, snails, slugs, bugs, and other creatures that you don’t want in your yard. The pupils of an opossum’s eyes are not black; they are significantly dilated to see correctly in the dark.

14. Eastern Screech Owl

Tanning Photography of Flying Eagle-owl
Tanning Photography of Flying Eagle-owl | Image Credit – Pixabay
NameEastern Screech Owl
Found InCanadian boreal forests south to Mexico
What do they eat?Insects and  small animals
IUCN statusSpecies of Least Concern

Eastern Central and North America are habitats for Ester Screech Owl. While some of these raptors are compact enough to carry in a pint glass as they stand around nine inches tall, they are deadly predators and are repeatedly alluded to as feathered wildcats. Eastern screech owls can create a purr-like melody, one of their numerous unique and strange noises.

15. Slow Loris 

Slow Loris 
Slow Loris | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons
NameSlow Loris 
Found InSouth and Southeast Asia
What do they eat?Insects and other arthropods, small birds
IUCN statusEndangered

The slow loris is a nocturnal species, a moderate primate native to Southeast Asia. Slow lorises are found in five distinct species around the planet and are distinguished by their human-like palms. This nocturnal animal sleeps on tree branches, cracks throughout the day, and scavenges for food at night. 

Slow lorises’ human-like palms have a robust grasp and robust digits. They can travel fast through the trees. Tiny birds, reptiles, eggs, and berries are the primary food sources for slow lorises. They seem to have a sensitive nose, which aids in detecting food in the darkness.

To Wrap Up

And the most common query, how exactly do these creatures move and navigate in the dark? Nocturnal creatures rely on more than just their eyesight. To adjust to blackness, some rely on their other abilities. To forage in the dark, animals like owls and big cats have sophisticated ears; owls’ ears are offset, while large cats’ ears are highly movable. 

Several nocturnal animals have keen senses of smell and use scent labeling to converse. Snakes, for example, use their sense of taste to explore and seek prey. As fascinating as these animals are, it would be a challenge to see them in the daytime. But sadly, you’d have to be one among them to meet them!

(Last Updated on June 8, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!