Nocturnal creatures continue to be a mystery to most humans, even those of us who crank out a weekly graveyard shift. That's because many nocturnal species dwell in remote locations, like rainforests and ocean floors. Spotting the elusive night-dwelling animal requires patience and a bit of skill. Animals that were once diurnal (that is, most active during daylight hours) or both diurnal and nocturnal have shifted their behavior patterns in recent years. It seems these creatures have become hip to the ways of the human and solely prefer nighttime play in order to avoid human interaction. Go figure? Animals we call pests now deem humans so pesky, they try to avoid us entirely.
But, alas, the resolute rat still gives us humans hope for happy co-habitation...at least in the city that never sleeps. These days, you might find this not-so-rare (and not-so-small, at all) New York City rodent sharing a subway seat or even a slice of pizza with a fellow New Yorker. If you've ever tasted authentic New York City pizza, you'd understand the hype. It's so good, even sewer creatures risk life and limb to haul a hefty slice every now and again.
This quiz tests how well you know the world's creatures of the night. Match their likeness with relevant facts. Some facts are unique, while others are just downright bizarre. You'll soon discover that one nocturnal creature smells exactly like hot buttered popcorn, of all things. Another night-loving specimen can twist its hind parts an entire 180 degrees to better track prey at high speeds. Click on to learn more!
Bat-eared foxes have exceptionally large ears that emit heat, which helps to keep their bodies cool. These foxes use both their ears and their tails to communicate with each other.
The herbivorous kangaroo occasionally eats insects. This animal has a plethora of incisors that help to break down plants, like moss, flowers and ferns.
The walking stick is a nocturnal insect that easily disguises its thin frame among plants. It can also position its body to mimic other insects, such as ants, when faced with danger.
The aye-aye is native to Madagascar and has a specialized omnivorous diet. The ramy nut is a hard, three-chambered nut typically found in Madagascar.
The monkey-like or cat-like fossa is closely related to the mongoose. Its tail can measure up to 28 inches.
The Pacific angelshark is a bottom-dwelling nocturnal creature. This shark patiently waits for, then ambushes its prey.
The spectacled caiman forages mostly at night. It is very well adapted to saltwater and freshwater habitats, making it the most abundant breed of caiman in existence.
Unlike most other cats, ocelots are great swimmers. Many can be found in South America, and some ocelots have been spotted as far north as Texas.
Gila monsters, caiman and tuatara eat frogs. Toads are also frogs that roam the night and seek shelter in trees or burrows during the day.
The green moray eel can grow close to 10 feet. Yellow-green mucus covers its brown skin to protect it from parasites and bacteria.
The vinegaroon uses its first pair of legs as antennae to "see" as it moves about. The insect relies on vibrations to locate its prey.
Kiwi birds are native to New Zealand. These are unusual birds that have nostrils positioned at the end of their long beaks.
While jaguars are often described as nocturnal, their peak activity typically occurs during dawn and dusk, and they are, therefore, better known to be crepuscular. Jaguars rarely attack when they encounter humans.
Coelacanths were once considered extinct creatures from 65 million years ago. However, the first living coelacanth was observed in 1938.
In 2008, researchers in South Korea filed a patent for a method to extract the bacteria-killing chemical from dried muskrat feces. The chemical is also alleged to kill insects, such as termites.
Perhaps a more apt name for the fruit bat is "fruit juice bat." This nocturnal animal ingests the juice and nectar from fruits, then spits out the seeds and pulp.
The margay is also called a tree ocelot. This animal inhabits Southern Mexico all the way down through Brazil and Paraguay.
The porcupine has few predators due to its protective quills. The quills are easily detachable when the animal is frightened.
The tarsier is rare among the primate species since it does not eat any plants at all. Common prey the tarsier consumes include insects, cockroaches, butterflies and cicadas.
Wild chinchillas are crepuscular and nocturnal; they are most active during the dawn, dusk and throughout the nighttime. However, domesticated chinchillas often adapt to diurnal life.
The Protection of Badgers Act of 1992 prohibits the sale or possession of badgers in the United Kingdom. This includes anyone who aids in the sale or possession of badgers, as well.
The Tasmanian devil is native to the island of Tasmania, which is an island state of Australia. Early research trials suggest that some human anti-cancer drugs prove effective in treating cancers that affect the Tasmanian devil.
Weddell seals can dive 2000 feet below the Antarctic Ocean surface in freezing waters. They can stay down there for up to 45 minutes.
Most rattlesnakes hide during the day and hunt for their prey at night. Their venom contains hemotoxins that damage the blood and many bodily tissues.
"Flash Slothmore" is a male three-toed sloth featured in Disney's "Zootopia" film. In the film, he and his co-species female co-worker, "Priscilla Tripletoe," work at the DMV, which is the Department of Mammal Vehicles.
Paradoxical frog tadpoles are approximately 9.8 inches long, and the mature adults shrink down to 3 inches. Paradoxical frogs are found throughout South America.
Kopi Luwak is an expensive coffee brewed from the poop of the civet. The civet is a cat-like nocturnal creature from Southern Asia and Africa.
Black-footed ferrets roam the prairie lands of North America. They are scattered between southern Canada and North Mexico, throughout Arizona, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming.
The nocturnal cuttlefish can change its color in an instant to match its surroundings in order to evade predators. The cuttlefish uses a permeable internal structure called a "cuttlebone" to float and rise as it glides through water.
Compared to other felines, the oncilla is rather small, with an average weight of approximately 5.5 pounds. Spotting an oncilla is a rarity. Most of what is known about the oncilla is observed from captive breeds.
The firefly, or lightning bug, is neither a fly or a true bug but is actually a beetle. This creature produces two rare chemicals, luciferin and luciferase, that are crucial in scientific research on heart disease, multiple sclerosis and cancer,
Capybaras are semi-aquatic rodents that live throughout north and east South America. These large creatures can weigh as much as a sheep or a small human.
The margay cat is most active at dusk, dawn and throughout the night. Of all of the felines, it is the only cat that can rotate its hind legs 180 degrees, which enables it to run speedily down and across trees chasing after prey with remarkable dexterity.
The owl monkey is the only nocturnal primate in South America. The owl monkey's eyes are well evolved for night vision, but they have poorer color vision than other primates.
The pangolin is also called a scaly anteater. Like other anteaters, pangolins have no teeth. Regular anteaters eat ants, insects, fruit and other soft grubs, while pangolins eat only insects.
The okapi may look similar to a deer but it is the giraffe's only living relative. These illusive creatures of Central Africa are mostly nocturnal, but they do exhibit some diurnal behaviors.
Beavers are the largest rodent in North America, and they are fast and masterful builders in their complex woodsy environments. Perhaps colleges choose the beaver to represent their schools to inspire the spirit of resilience in their students and athletes.
The Indonesian government has made tremendous efforts to conserve the world's last population of coelacanths. This rare fish is a symbol of national pride and is practically a celebrity in Indonesia, considering all the publicity it gets.
According to researchers, the buttered-popcorn smell that emits from the solitary binturong, or bearcat, comes from a chemical the animal secretes in its urine. The binturong douses turf with its odd-smelling pee to ward off competitors.
The two-horned white rhino is the largest land creature after the elephant. The nocturnal white rhino can weigh as much as 4 tons!