Hunters and the Hunted: the Hidden World of Animals at Night

While some animals settle down as the sun begins to set, others are just starting to come alive.

Published 8 May 2018, 11:08 BST

Owls aren't the only animals that become active at night.

In fact, many animals are nocturnal—getting more active and beginning their day as the sun sets. There are a number of reasons different species are active at night, but many animals have evolved nocturnal habits to avoid heat.

Among the animals that prefer cooler nights are species not often photographed in the dark. Hippos and lions, for example, while commonly pictured roaming sunny safari fields, are often active long after the sun sets.

Night is also when big cats prefer to prowl. American cougars have been pictured slyly traveling through the Hollywood Hills at night, mere miles from the sprawling Los Angeles urban area sitting below, while in India leopards slink through the suburbs of Mumbai.

Having a dark night sky is more than just an opportunity to be covert for many animals. Light pollution from human-made structures can disorient some nocturnal animals, interfering with their navigation and making it difficult for them to see. Newly hatched sea turtles, for example, use the moon and stars to reach the ocean.

Look through the gallery above to see how animals live when the lights are off.

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