Creatures Of The Night
When the sun has set and most of us are fast asleep, some creatures come out to play. Meet nature’s night-timers.
Photo: Shamnadh S.
Cat snake: The common cat snake Boiga sp. is nocturnal and is usually active from early night to early morning. It is slow and shy. When threatened, it throws half its body into loops, and may make mock attacks. It feeds on lizards, frogs, small birds and rodents.
Photo: Nirmal Kulkarni.
Prashad’s gecko: Geckos sleep during the day and only emerge at night to feast on insects. They disguise themselves amongst leaves and greenery to aid their hunt.
Photo: Arvind Seshachalam.
Blue-eyed bush frog: Found only in India in evergreen and moist deciduous forests and Myristica swamps, its ‘treek tink-tink-tink’ call can be heard on rainy nights.
Photo: Viraj Ghaisas.
Scorpion: Scorpions can be easily spotted at night since they glow a bright blue-green under ultraviolet light. The glow, scientists believe could be to warn predators or help other scorpions to recognise each other.
Photo: Nikhil Virdi.
Barn Owl: Ghostly-white, this silent predator has the ability to fly without making any sound, which gives it a great advantage as the slightest disturbance may alert prey. The feathers on the front of its wings are shaped in such a way that it breaks up the wind, thus permitting silent flight.
Photo: Dr. Anish Andheria.
Savanna Nightjar: Rarely seen during the day, this bird stays motionless on the ground, perfectly camouflaged thanks to its feather patterns that are like dead leaves and tree bark. At night, it makes a distinctive ‘churring’ sound as it perches on the branch of a tall tree looking out for beetles and moths.
Photo: Niranjan Sant.
Ceylon Frogmouth: Related to the nightjar, this bird resembles a bundle of dried leaves and has a favourite roost that it uses regularly. It hunts at night, preferring to catch insects in flight or picking them up.
Photo: Adwait Jadhav.
Palm civet: This solitary animal only comes out into the open at night to hunt. It feeds on rodents, lizards, snakes and frogs as well as fruit and flowers.
Photo: Santosh Kundeshwar.
Greater short-nosed fruit bat: This mammal locates its food by scent. It is known to eat more than its body weight in food in one sitting. Its preferred food is fruit such as guava, banana and dates. Bats use echolocation to get around at night. It emits a sound, which on hitting an object, is refl ected back like an echo. This tells the bat how far the object is and its size and shape.
Indian pangolin: This scaly ant-eater has a long, specially adapted tongue that helps it capture ants and termites. Its burrow is usually placed strategically near ant and termite colonies so it has a lasting food supply.
First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVI, NO. 5, May 2016.