The night comes alive with the sounds of nocturnal animals starting their “day.” You don’t need to live near a wild area to hear a number of different animals that have adapted to foraging and hunting for food once the sun has gone down.
Raccoons, skunks, and mice are among the mammals that live near people. They benefit, in fact, from our habit of storing trash outdoors and from planting food gardens in our backyards. Why do these animals come out at night? Many are sensitive to the sun’s drying effects (these are mostly insects and amphibians); others hope to avoid competing for the same food with daytime feeding animals. Many welcome the protection that the dark provides.
Notice how many of these nocturnal animals have large eyes (to be able to see in low light); their hearing and sense of smell are particularly acute. Some animals such as bats, have a specially developed way of getting around in the dark called echolocation.
Nearly 700 of the 1,000 bat species worldwide use this method of emitting high-pitched sounds which bounce off nearby objects, returning to the bats’ ears as echoes. Bats dart out of the way of stationary objects (and hone in on the flying insects that they eat) by judging the distance between themselves and whatever blocks the sound waves.
[Image: Courtesy of Mike Crowley; available for sale at his website Life in the Northwoods]