Facts About Nocturnal Animals: Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Anna Reinking

Anni taught elementary school for eight years and is currently teaching college. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction.

Expert Contributor
Amanda Robb

Amanda has taught high school science for over 10 years. They have a Master's Degree in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from Tufts Medical School and a Master's of Teaching from Simmons College. They also are certified in secondary special education, biology, and physics in Massachusetts.

Animals who are awake at night and sleep during the day are called nocturnal. In this lesson, you will learn about nocturnal animals, including why they sleep during the day and where they live. Updated: 11/27/2019

Nocturnal Animals

Imagine being wide awake at midnight and going through your normal day. Can you imagine eating lunch at midnight, going to school, playing with your friends, and talking to your family? That might seem odd to some of us, but to nocturnal animals, that's how they live their lives. Nocturnal animals are awake and active at night and then sleep during the day. Some nocturnal animals can be seen during the day, but most of them spend their whole day resting. Examples of nocturnal animals include bats, skunks, aardvarks, and owls.

Nocturnal animals sleep during the day for various reasons. Most nocturnal animals sleep during the day and are active at night in order to avoid predators that are active during the day. For example, sea turtles go to their breeding sites in order to keep themselves safe and protect their offspring. Most nocturnal animals live in the desert. So, not only are they trying to stay away from predators, they're also staying out of the hot sun during the day.

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  • 0:04 Nocturnal Animals
  • 1:05 Special Adaptations
  • 2:19 Lesson Summary
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Special Adaptations

Think about what it's like for you to go outside at night without a flashlight or streetlights to help you see. It can be quite hard. Well, animals that are awake during the dark hours of the night have highly developed senses, which make their bodies unique. Many nocturnal animals, such as bats and aye-ayes, a type of lemur, have special eye cells called rods. These rods help them capture more light when it is dark.

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Additional Activities

Collecting Cards

In this activity, students will create collecting cards for their favorite nocturnal animals, similar to how people might collect baseball cards or Pokemon cards. For this activity, you can use blank notecards and colored pencils and markers, or you can help students do the activity on the computer in a drawing program.

For example, students might decide to make a fox collecting card. They would look up an image of a fox and glue it onto the card, and include fun facts about the fox, such as their excellent hearing, fluffy tail, or their ability to eat just about anything smaller than them!


Nocturnal animals have very cool adaptations to help them survive at night, and there are many examples, such as foxes, bats, owls, aardvarks, tarsiers, and more. In this activity, you're going to create a set of collecting cards that details some of your favorite nocturnal animals. Just like baseball cards or Pokemon cards, each card will have the name of the animal, a picture and three cool facts about it. You can use the internet to find the information you need. Make sure you make at least 10 different cards and they each meet the requirements below. When you're done, see if a friend wants to make a set too, then trade your cards to get the best set of animals!

Criteria for Success:

  • Each card has the name of the animal
  • Each card has a picture of the animal
  • Each card has at least three interesting facts about the animal
  • There are at least 10 cards in the deck
  • Each card has the same overall layout, so they look like a set.

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