27 October 2010 Creatures of the Night Posted by: Cat Lazaroff | 1 comment | Share: This Halloween, keep a wary eye out for things that go bump—and prowl, growl, hoot and howl—in the night. Many of the world’s most impressive predators wait for the cover of darkness before setting out to make their living. Here’s a gallery of some of nature’s most successful nighttime hunters. Leopards prowl the night in Africa, Asia and India, bringing down deer, gazelles, monkeys and even birds. They’ll often drag their kills into the same trees where they lounge during the heat of the day, keeping themselves and their next meals safe from other predators. Most owls, such as the northern spotted owl and Mexican spotted owl, wait for nightfall to swoop on silent wings in search of hapless squirrels, rabbits, wood rats and other small mammals. However, the snowy owl and burrowing owl do most of their hunting during the day! The Florida panther is mostly active between dusk and dawn, when it searches through Florida’s swamps and forests for deer, rabbits, raccoons and feral hogs. The panthers will sometimes take small pets or livestock too; that’s why Defenders works with local landowners to help them construct panther-proof fences and pens to help keep domestic animals safe from these native cats. Learn more about living with panthers on the Defenders website. One of the smallest predators Defenders works on, the black-footed ferret, depends entirely upon prairie dog colonies for both food and shelter. At night, while the prairie dogs sleep snugly in their dens, the ferret prowls through the colony’s tunnels in search of their next meal. The wolverine is primarily nocturnal, but can also be active during the daytime. This strong, aggressive animal may lope for dozens of miles as it hunts for ground squirrels and snowshoe hares, though it will also frequently scavange from the carcasses of larger animals killed by wolves or bears. Red wolves wait until dark to hunt in North Carolina’s Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Not much larger than coyotes, red wolves search for rabbits, raccoons, squirrels and other small prey, but will sometimes take down deer as well. Gray wolves are crepuscular, meaning they do most of their hunting at dawn and again at dusk. But they’re also opportunists; they’ll take advantage of a good hunting opportunity any time of day or night. Mythbuster: Contrary to popular belief, wolves don’t howl at the moon! But they do howl more often on brightly lit nights. This year, Halloween falls a full week after the full moon—will the night be bright enough to prompt some howling? If you live in wolf country, take a listen, and let us know! Adopt the Ultimate Creature of the Night! Adopt a Bat Today! Bats play an incredibly important role in the ecosystem, eating billions of crop-destroying insects like moths and beetles, as well as mosquitoes. But in just four years, more than a million bats have been killed by the mysterious disease known as white nose syndrome. Your bat adoption will show everyone that bats are nothing to fear and help Defenders continue to work to protect these amazing creatures and the places they live. Visit our Wildlife Adoption & Gift Center to adopt any of our other imperiled creatures of the night—and day! One Response to “Creatures of the Night” Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap-Up Helicopter gunning kills 23 wolves in Idaho; Urge Secretary Jewell to abandon gray wolf delisting proposal — Call your representative by March 14; Washington wildlife agency urged to end support for abolishing federal wolf protections; The latest on Governor Otter’s wolf control board. Two Too Many Development Projects in the Ivanpah Valley While these projects most definitely directly impact a species that has been identified as threatened and is dependent on the habitat where they would be built, Silver State South and Stateline’s approval is most troubling for a bigger reason. You see, this isn’t just an issue for the Ivanpah Valley. Developers and agencies need to be conscious of how and where they plan energy projects all across the country. They need to look at renewable energy planning with a landscape-wide lens, understanding that building in the right places and making an effort to minimize environmental impacts from the start are essential. California’s Rim Fire: Opportunities Rise from the Ashes After California’s devastating Rim Fire, will officials take the opportunity to give nature a chance to fully recover?