Have you had a chance to peruse your new Nocturnal Animals Zoobooks issue yet? Early in the issue, we explore why animals are nocturnal. Some animals, like owls, are nocturnal because they fill a niche vacated by animals that are awake during the day. Owls hunt many of the same kinds of creatures that eagles and hawks hunt in daylight. Foxes and other small predators would agree that they like hunting better at night, too, because there is less competition for food.

Other animals, like raccoons,  find it is much safer to be active at night. There is less to fear at that time from large predators.

But interestingly, some animals are nocturnal because humans have made them so. Jackals are usually daytime animals. But in areas where they feel threatened by people, the timid jackals become night creatures, living and hunting in the safety of darkness. Humans have changed the behavior of other wild animals, too. Coyotes used to be known as lone hunters, but now, especially in areas where their habitat butts up against human development, coyotes are more and more often hunting in packs.

As long as the animals continue to find ways to thrive, we can consider this an adaptation, and not bad news. House cats, after all, have adapted to living with diurnal people quite happily. But continued vigilance concerning the balance of nature will always be in good order.

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