The day is over, the sun is gone and it is at that time that several animals leave their dens and nests to look for food. The darkness of the night is the perfect time for the life of many types of animals, who ended up acquiring special skills such as: super vision, super hearing, super smell, among others, precisely because they live during this period of the day.
Each type of animal has its special ability, which differentiates them from the others. These skills have emerged over time, that is, animals have been adapting to the nocturnal lifestyle until they achieve these characteristics.
Some of these characteristics are used to hunt prey, while others have emerged so that these animals could defend themselves. ”
The nocturnal animals developed a predilection for the night to hunt or not to be hunted (Photo: depositphotos)
Why are some animals nocturnal?
But why did some animals live actively during the night? Researchers say that certain environments, during the day, do not offer favorable conditions for some species to live.
An example of this are frogs and toads, which have very sensitive skin at high temperatures and, when exposed to the sun for a long time, may end up hurting themselves. Therefore, this type of animal was better adapted to live at night.
Another possible reason for some animals to live at night would be because this was the way they found to escape from their predators . Animals that were always hunted during the day, started to live at night in an attempt to no longer be trapped.
Examples of animals with nocturnal habits
Due to the low visibility of the night, bats developed their hearing well (Photo: deposipthotos)
The bat is perhaps the animal that best represents nightlife. During the day they are hidden in caves or dark holes, resting. When night comes, they go looking for food. Not all bats are hematophagous , that is, they feed on blood, most like small insects and fruits.
By living at night, they acquired a very peculiar skill, ” echolocation “. It works like a type of radar in which the bat emits a sound at a very high frequency (imperceptible to human ears) and that sound, when touching some surface, gives the animal the necessary perception so that it deviates from the obstacle or advances to it, if it is prey.
Bats in general have high longevity compared to mammals of the same size: while a 40 g rat lives up to two years, a bat can live up to 20 years in the wild.
Because it has nocturnal habits, it has few cones on the retina, a structure related to color perception. But they are not blind ! And although all Brazilian species use echolocation to orient themselves, some larger frugivores are also located by sight.
Because it primarily uses the echolocation system, the eyes are small, the ears are large and nasal and facial ornaments are often present. In the largest Brazilian family, Phyllostomidae, the prominent nasal leaf plays an important part in directing the ultrasounds that come out of the nostrils.
During the echolocation process, they transmit high frequency sounds through the mouth or nose, which are reflected by surfaces in the environment, indicating the direction and relative distance of the objects.
For these nocturnal animals, a vivid coloring would be of little use and, therefore, there are only variations between black and brown, with some red or yellowish species. Even so, white coats can occur as in the species of Diclidurus .
The owl has super vision, which helps him to see and hunt at night (Photo: depositphotos)
Another animal well known for its nightlife is owls. These, in turn, have the ability of super vision . They do not see color, however, this is not a problem, when you can see a small target about 10 meters away and in low light. For this ability the owl is an excellent hunter .
Owing to nocturnal habits, the owl has a preference for making nests in tree holes, cracks in rocks and also in church towers. It feeds on small mammals and birds, bats, mice and large insects.
To hunt, it is camouflaged in tree branches. With extremely sharp night vision and hearing, when she notices any movement, she approaches silently until she surrounds and captures her prey between her claws.
Lighter than that of other birds, the owls’ coat allows it to move its wings almost without noise, which facilitates these sneaky attacks and, almost always, fatal to prey. This is one of the characteristics that, over time, helped to fuel myths and beliefs about owls, many of them associated with bad omen and death.
Owls are a good example of species diversification processes. Currently, a total of 250 species are described worldwide , distributed in all environments, with the exception of Antarctica and oceanic islands.
Most species are arboreal and nocturnal, but there are terrestrial species, which hunt and feed during the day. Its size also varies considerably. The smallest species is 14 centimeters or less and the largest reaches 80 centimeters in height.
Despite being dispersed in almost all continents, most live in tropical areas, with a third in neotropical areas.
They are the only birds with eyes directed forward, with highly developed stereoscopic vision that, despite their small mobility, have a wide visual field because they can move their heads up to 270 degrees .
Some species have developed a hearing system with asymmetric ears, probably to improve strategies for locating prey in night environments with dense vegetation. They can capture vertebrates of various sizes. In the stomach there is the separation of hair and bones that, in the form of pellets, are regurgitated. The remains are deposited under the nests.
Their nocturnal habits impose a lot of difficulty in observation and registration, so several species have not been sufficiently studied. Owls have great ecological value for the ecosystems in which they live because they occupy the last level of the food chain. Knowledge about these populations is a measure to regulate the size of prey populations.
In the animal world there are still many other animals that prefer the night over the day. Most cats are an example. Ocelot, wild cat, jaguar, maned wolf, among others. The scorpion, badger, firefly , tarantula, rat, mole, skunk, wolf, are also nocturnal animals.
And that list is still very vast. Each type of animal has its own characteristics, which help them to survive at night. Whether to hunt or not to hunt.