Nighttime Wanderers: Nocturnal Animals from Around the World

As darkness falls in parts of the world, many of us begin to think about changing into pajamas and crawling into bed. But for some animals, the disappearance of the sun means their day is about to begin.

Nocturnal species are most active at night. They hunt, eat, and wander under the comfort of darkness. Cats and owls are commonly known night wanderers. But many more animals stick to a similar schedule. Here are five of our favorite nocturnal animals.

Black-footed Ferret
Black-footed ferrets—the masked critters of the Northern Great Plains—pop out only under the fall of darkness. These endangered animals rely on the intricate tunnels created by prairie dogs to get around. Prairie dogs also serve as food for the ferrets. WWF is mapping prairie dog colonies in an effort to determine where to reintroduce black-footed ferrets.


Bats are frequently portrayed as frightful creatures soaring through the air under the cover of darkness. But bats are very much our friends. Feeding on insects and other small prey, they act as pest control. And some species feed on flowers and fruit; they’re pollinators and seed dispersers.


Sometimes mistaken as reptiles, pangolins are actually mammals covered in scales from head to tail. If approached by a predator, a pangolin will cover its head with its front legs, leaving only the scales exposed. These unique animals are found in Africa and Asia. Unfortunately, they’re one of the most trafficked mammals. WWF works to stop wildlife crime and protect endangered species.


Fennec Fox
Fennec foxes—identifiable by their oversized ears—roam the desert after dark. Soft fur on the soles of their feet protect them from heat and help them get a better grip on loose sand. These animals can also survive for extended periods of time without water.


Two-Toed Sloth
Two-toed sloths tend to hang out alone. They occupy swathes of South America, from Venezuela to parts of Brazil and Peru. Resting in the upper canopy of the forest, they often go undetected because they stay quite still and their fur serves as camouflage.