Mar 15

On Saturday 23rd March hundreds of millions of people across the world will take part in WWF’s Earth Hour by turning off their lights for one hour. WWF’s Earth hour is a unique annual phenomenon that focuses the world’s attention on our amazing planet, and why we need to protect it.

During Earth Hour 2013, people are asked to think about the type of energy we use. How we need to move away from fossil fuels and onto clean renewable energy, which works with nature and not against it.

In 2012, 6,950 towns and cities in 152 countries took part, with over 7.6 million people in the UK joining in alone. Earth Hour 2013 takes place at 8:30 pm local time on Saturday 23rd March, so get ready to flick those switches and join in the fight for a healthier planet! Here at ARKive, to get ready we have been thinking about species which prefer life in the dark and have put together a list of our top ten nocturnal species.

Aye-aye

Despite originally being classified as a rodent, the unusual looking aye-aye is actually the world’s largest nocturnal primate. The aye-aye’s hand has an extended middle digit which it uses for foraging. This finger has a range of uses, including scooping the pulp out of fruit and tapping on trees to find cavities concealing insects.

An aye-aye using its elongated finger to find insects in wood

 

Sri Lankan frogmouth

The strange looking Sri Lankan frogmouth certainly looks like it could do with some beauty sleep! This nocturnal bird is very distinctive due to its unusual appearance and its loud laughing song. Found only in India and Sri Lanka, it hunts insects at night and rests during the day.

The Sri Lankan frogmouth gets its name from its large, gaping mouth

 

Horsfield’s tarsier

Like other tarsier species, the Horsfield’s tarsier has some very strange adaptations. Tarsiers have the biggest eyes of any mammal compared to body weight, and due to the unique shape of their spine they possess the ability to rotate their head almost 360º! Tarsiers are also the only entirely carnivorous primate, feeding on a diet of insects and small vertebrates at night.

Tarsiers have the biggest eyes of any mammal, relative to their body weight

Night-flowering orchid

The night flowering orchid is the only known orchid species which opens its flowers at night. This newly discovered species is only found on the island of New Britain, in Papua New Guinea. In cultivation, this orchid opens its flowers at around 10pm keeping them open for about 12 hours. The flowers of this orchid are short lived, only lasting for one night.

The night-flowering orchid is the only orchid species to open its flowers at night

Philippine flying lemur

The Philippine flying lemur is not actually a true flier or a true lemur, but is actually a rather unique gliding mammal. It possesses a distinctive gliding membrane, or patagium, that when stretched out enables the Philippine flying lemur to glide through the forest for over 100 metres! It is a secretive and nocturnal animal which ventures out at dusk to find food.

The Philippine flying lemur gliding between trees

Lemur leaf frog

The lemur leaf frog is a nocturnal frog species, with the incredible ability to change colour depending on whether it is active or resting. During the day, it has a bright green colouration to provide it with camouflage whilst curled up on leaves. At night, when it becomes active, the lemur leaf frog’s eyes turn grey and the upperparts of its body turns brown. This provides the lemur leaf frog with excellent camouflage during the day and night.

Lemur leaf frogs have the ability to change colour between green and brown

Great spotted kiwi

As the name suggests, the great spotted kiwi is New Zealand’s largest kiwi species. This nocturnal bird finds its prey at night by tapping the ground with its beak and sniffing the earth. For the first six weeks of their life great spotted kiwi chicks may feed during the day, before becoming exclusively nocturnal.

Two great spotted kiwis foraging at night

Pyjama shark

Despite what its name suggests, you will not find the pyjama shark tucked up in bed at night in its pyjamas, as this strange looking shark is actually nocturnal. It is in fact the seven dark longitudinal stripes running the length of its body which gives this shark its name. The nocturnal pyjama shark spends its day concealed in caves or crevices and becomes active at night to hunt fish and molluscs.

The aptly named pyjama shark

Aardvark

The unusual looking aardvark is primarily a nocturnal animal which spends its day in its burrow and ventures out at night to find food. The aardvarks diet is composed of ants and termites which it swallows whole and then grinds them up in a muscular area of its lower stomach. The aardvark not only holds the title for being the first word in dictionary, but its powerful limbs means it can dig a hole quicker than several men with shovels!

An aardvark showing of its digging skills

Kakapo

The kakapo is a very unusual nocturnal parrot species endemic to New Zealand. This unique species is not only the world’s largest and heaviest parrot but it is also the only flightless parrot in the world. The kakapo was once widespread in New Zealand but now this Critically Edangered species only occurs on Codfish and Chalky Islands.

The kakapo is the largest and heaviest parrot and also seems to be the best at hide and seek!

Don’t forget, Earth Hour is on Saturday  23rd March at 8:30 pm local time, so join the ARKive team and millions of other people worldwide and switch off those lights!

Find out how to get involved on the WWF’s Earth Hour website

Jemma Pealing, ARKive Media Researcher

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