Nocturnal Animals in the Rainforest

Misty rainforest image by Adam Tan from

The earth's rainforests are comprised of varying levels of diverse habitats that thousands of creatures call home. From the lofty tops of the sun-nourished canopy to the vine and brush-covered forest floor, you will find animals that over hundreds of years have adapted to their position in this vast ecosystem. Of the multitude of animals that reside in the rainforest, some have developed distinct attributes allowing them to be strictly nocturnal.

Bearded Pig

The bearded pig, or sus barbatus, is a nocturnal animal of the rainforest about the size of an Airedale terrier. The pig is dark brown in colour with stiff bristle-like hair jutting from its skin and the lower jawbone. These animals have elongated snouts specially designed to smell out and dig up food underneath the ground. Existing mainly on fallen fruit, roots, herbs and earthworms, these pigs can be quite destructive to nearby plantations by digging up young plants before maturity. In the denser areas of the rainforest, bearded pigs will form herds, swimming through bodies of water or climbing over mountainous terrain in search of food.

Wallace's Flying Frog

Garnering its name from its ability to seemingly fly from tree top to tree top, the rhacophorus nigropalmatus, more commonly known as Wallace's flying frog, gets its surname from its discovery by naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in 1869. The flying frog's miraculous ability to "fly" is achieved through thin membranes that have developed over time between the toes and along the sides of the body. When the frog leaps from tree to tree or to the ground, these membranes spread out, allowing the frog to glide to distances as far as 50 feet or more.

Leopard Cat

The leopard cat, or prionailurus bengalensis, hunts predominately at twilight and during nighttime hours. This species is only marginally larger than a domesticated house cat, and like its cousin, hunts small animals, insects and birds for its dinner. The leopard cat gets its name due to its striking resemblance to the larger species of leopards (panthera pardus) which also inhabit rainforests. This breed of cat is not afraid of the water, and some have traversed lakes and rivers, giving rise to offshore island populations. Leopard cats make their homes in hollowed out trees and caves and the male will often times help the female in raising their offspring.

Most recent