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List of nocturnal mammals

Updated March 23, 2017

All animals that fall under the classification of "mammal" share certain characteristics. These animals are all vertebrate air-breathers that give birth to live young. While animals of this type share many similarities, they do not all adopt the same patterns of sleep and alertness. While many mammals, such as humans, elect to stay awake during the day, other mammals are nocturnal and, as such, are more prepared to sleep during daylight hours and lurk the wild during the night.

Skunk

The skunk is a nocturnal mammal most commonly associated with releasing a pungent odour to ward off attacks. This animal's dark fur and highly perceptive eyes make it adept at moving about undetected in the night. Along with these traits, the skunk possess short legs that allow it to lurk close to the ground and more effectively avoid notice.

Badger

The badger is closely related to the skunk and possesses many of the same characteristics, including squat legs and black and white colouring; however, this animal does not have the same built-in smell-related defence. Badgers are known for their ability to burrow and have a snout specifically designed to dig easily into the earth's surface and create a den. This animal hunts predominantly at night and uses its sharp claws and the element of surprise to catch potential prey.

Red Fox

The red fox derives its name from the distinctive russet colour of its coat. This nocturnal mammal lives in a variety of habitats and is adept at both blending into the environment and tracking down potential prey. The red fox hunts predominantly during the nighttime hours, when it is best able to move about the landscape stealthily and avoid detection.

Snow Leopard

While snow leopards are now endangered, this status is not due to the animal's lack of hunting ability but, instead, to a decline in suitable snow leopard habitat. These sleek felines are skilled runners and have sharp claws and teeth that allow them to easily grasp and kill their prey. Their coat is comprised of white and grey, allowing the animal to blend well in a winter habitat. This mammal hunts during the twilight and nighttime hours, while other animals are blinded by the dark and are defenceless.

Raccoon

The raccoon is most easily identified by its distinctive masked face and ringed tail. This mammal spends daylight hours tucked safety into burrows and ventures out in the night to seek food. These animals are omnivores and eat a varied diet, consisting of nearly any food source they can get their clawed paws on. Like many other nocturnal mammals, the raccoon has short legs, which allows it to nestle up to the ground and avoid would-be predators while roaming the night.

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About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.