Australian Nocturnal (Night) Animals Nocturnal Marsupials, Birds, Monotremes, Reptiles of Australia

• What are Nocturnal Animals?


Kangaroos are large hopping marsupials. The female carries its baby in a pouch in its abdomen. They are crepuscular and nocturnal.

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Koalas are cuddly tree-dwelling animals with big noses. They are mostly nocturnal and crepuscular and sleep up to 22 hours a day.

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Cassowaries, with dagger-like claws and powerful kicks, are the most dangerous birds in the world. They are most active at dawn and dusk.

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Quokkas with their smiley faces seem like the happiest animals in the world. They are nocturnal. Classified as nocturnal, they are mostly crepuscular.

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Platypuses have beaks like a duck and flippers like a beaver and lay eggs. Mostly nocturnal and crepuscular, they are sometimes seen out during the day.

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Gilbert's potoroo

Gilbert's potoroo is the world's rarest marsupial and weighing roughly one kilo. It eats underground fungi (truffles). It is nocturnal.

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Bushtail Possum

The brushtail possum is a semi-arboreal nocturnal marsupial. It has a bushy prehensile tail, which it uses to grasp onto branches.

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Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devils are boisterous and scary-looking marsupials. They are nocturnal and extinct except on the island of Tasmania.

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Red Bellied Black Snake

Red bellied black snakes are venomous and get their name from their colours. It is typically diurnal but may become nocturnal during hot or dry weather.

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Dingoes are wild dogs brought to Australia by humans 5,000 years ago. They are mostly crepuscular and nocturnal in warmer weather.

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Echidnas are egg-laying mammals! In warmer climates, they are nocturnal but crepuscular and diurnal as the temperature falls.

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The woylie is a nocturnal marsupial with a long tail which it wraps around a bundle of nesting material and transports it home.

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Saltwater Crocodiles are one of the most ferocious animals in the world. They are mostly nocturnal but will also hunt during the day.

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Redback Spider

Redback spiders, the second most dangerous spiders in the world, are mainly nocturnal. They live in messy-looking webs that trap prey.

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Wombats are burrowing native herbivorous marsupial mammals that look like baby bears. Rarely seen in the wild, they come out at night.

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Tawny Frogmouth

The Tawny Frogmouth is a nocturnal insect hunter. It camouflages itself during the day by fluffing up its feathers to look like a tree stump.

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Greater Bilby

Greater bilbies are small, shy, ground-dwelling omnivorous marsupials with pointy ears and snouts. They are entirely nocturnal.

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Tasmanian Tiger

Tasmanian Tigers were marsupial wolves that had stripes like a tiger. People hunted them to extinction. They were mostly nocturnal.

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The Antechinus is a ferocious little marsupial mouse with a pointy nose that feeds on small insects. It is nocturnal.

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Eastern Brown Snake

The eastern brown snake is the second most venomous snake in the world. It is diurnal but can be observed at night during hot, humid days.

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Marsupial Mole

Marsupial moles have no eyes or ears and have a bony shield to protect their noses. It has been reported as active during the day and at night too.

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Sugar Glider

Sugar gliders are gliding night possums that glide from tree to tree and eat sugary nectar of plants. They are about 250mm long and very agile.

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Wallabies are small to medium-sized hopping marsupials with compact legs built for agility in forested areas where they live. They are mainly nocturnal.

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Possums are arboreal, nocturnal marsupial mammals that only come out at night There are 23 species of possums in Australia.

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Leadbeater's Possum

Leadbeater Possum

Leadbeater's Possums are critically endangered fast-moving marsupials that live in the forest canopy. They are nocturnal.

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Spotted Quoll

Spotted Tailed Quolls are the size of a large cat. They have many sharp little teeth. They are nocturnal but may come out during the day.

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Bandicoots are small native omnivorous marsupials with pointy snouts, large hind feet, and hop. They are nocturnal.

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Night Parrot

Night Parrots are an endangered species. Only 250 survive in the Australian Outback. They are nocturnal.

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Stick Nest Rat

The white-tipped-stick-nest-rat lived in central Australia. It built its nest of sticks, making a massive nesting mound. It is nocturnal

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Tree Kangaroo

Tree kangaroos climb by wrapping the forelimbs around a tree and hopping up with their powerful hind legs. It is nocturnal.

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Lesser Bilby

This small omnivorous marsupial became extinct in 1950 due to rabbits and introduced predators. They were nocturnal.

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Ringtail Possum

The Ringtail Possum is an arboreal, nocturnal marsupial that holds its tail in a tight coil. It is the size of a cat and has two thumbs on each its front paws.

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Flying Fox (Bat)

Flying Foxes are flying herbivorous mammals. They rely on their keen eyesight and hunt after dusk. It roosts upside down during the day.

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Rabbit (Feral)

Rabbits have reached plague proportions in the Australian Outback and cause serious damage. They are active from dusk to dawn.

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Cat (Feral)

Feral cats are ordinary domestic cats that have gone wild and survive by hunting and killing native animals. They are nocturnal.

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Cane Toad

The Cane Toad was brought to Australia by sugar-cane farmers against the advise of scientists. It is now invasive. It is nocturnal.

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Red Fox

The red fox was imported and released in Victoria Australia in the 1850s. It is now an invasive pest that kills many native animals. It is nocturnal.

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Water buffaloes were introduced to supply meat for settlers. They now roam wild and are habitat destructive. They are diurnal and nocturnal.

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House Mouse

The house mouse is one of the few animals that wasn't brought to Australia intentionally. It is crepuscular and nocturnal.

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House Gecko

The house gecko is found throughout northern Australia. It is fond of cohabiting with humans in houses and buildings. It is active after dark.



Black and brown rats arrived on board the first European ships to come to Australia. They are crepuscular and nocturnal


Feral Pig

Feral Pigs are the descendants of pigs brought to Australia by European settlers that became wild. They are primarily nocturnal.


Red-eyed Tree Frog

Red-eye tree frogs live in rainforests and wetlands. They are nocturnal hunters that feed on moths and other insects. They make a 'waa-aa' sound.


Rakali (Water Rat)

The Rakali is a semi-aquatic placental that is mostly nocturnal but starts searching for food at dusk. It lives in burrows on the banks of waterways.



Taipans are large venomous snakes. They are usually active during the day, but in hot weather they may become nocturnal.


Gastric-brooding Frog

Gastric-brooding frogs incubated their eggs in the mother's stomach and kept their young in her mouth. They are extinct. They were nocturnal.


Eastern Bettong

The eastern bettong became extinct on mainland Australia. A very small population still exists in Tasmania. They are nocturnal.


Plains Wanderer

Plains Wanderers are small quail-like birds that prefer to run rather than fly and fall prey to foxes. Although it is a diurnal feeder, it is only see at night.


More About Extinct Animals

Extinction is a natural process of evolution. Since the arrival of humans, extinction has accelerated alarmingly. Learn more here.

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More About Introduced Animals

Introduced animals are those animals brought to Australia by humans. Many have been destroying the Australian ecosystem. Learn more here.

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More About Australian Marsupials

Marsupials are pouched animals. They have evolved into fascinating and unusual creatures in all ecological niches. They Learn more here.

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More About Endangered Animals

Many Australian native animals are endangered and threatened with extinction due to humans. Learn more here.

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Why Animals in Australia
are Unusual

The reason Australian animals are so unique is because Australia was isolated from the rest of the world for million years. Learn more here.

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What is a Nocturnal Animal? Day, Evening, Night or Undecided

Most Australian animals are nocturnal and crepuscular. That is, they are only active when its dark. Being active at night, when its cooler, allows these animals to cope with the extremely hot climate and and aridity of Australia.

Animals can be categorised into three broad groups based on the time of day that they are most active.

Photo: Times of day chart

Diurnal (Daylight) animals are usually active during daylight and rest when it gets dark.

Crepuscular (Twilight) animals are active during dawn and dusk (twilight) and rest at other times of the day.

Nocturnal (Night) animals are those that are active during the night when it's totally dark and rest during other times of the day.

Most animals, however, don't fit conveniently into these categories as they may be seen to be active across these time-zones and may adjust their behaviour to a number of factors – typically the climate.

Some animals, such as bats and owls, are strictly nocturnal. Others, such as the echidna and red bellied black snake, vary the times they are active according to their environment. For example, if the climate is hot, the echidna will forage for food at night. But in cooler weather, it will come out during the day. While the echidna's behaviour is dictated by its desire to stay cool, in the case of the red bellied black snake, it is just the opposite. Being cold-blooded and needing to stay warm, the snake will hunt at night if the weather is hot. But if the weather is cold it will do so during the day. Kangaroos, on the other hand, while officially categorised as nocturnal are also crepuscular, being quite active during dawn and dusk.

It is common practice to classify many animals that come out when it gets dark as nocturnal, even though in actual fact they may be crepuscular animals. One reason might be the tongue-twisting name – crepuscular – which few can remember or pronounce.

Reason Australia has So Many Nocturnal Animals Why Does Australia have so many Nocturnal Animals?

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on earth. Most of the land is arid and the climate is hot. As a result, many of the native animals, especially the marsupials, have adopted a nocturnal lifestyle in order to avoid the blistering heat of the day. This behaviour of coming out only at night when the temperature is cooler conserves precious water which would be lost by being active in the hot sun.

Special Adaptations for Nocturnal Life

Nocturnal animals have evolved special adaptations that help them survive in the dark.

Eyes (Sight)

Many nocturnal animals, such as possums, have very good low-light eyesight.

Ears (Sound)

Many nocturnal animals, such as the kangaroo, bilby, and rabbit have an acute sense of hearing. This allows them to detect danger at great distances in the dark. Many bats, on the other hand, use echolocation which acts like a radar. The bat emits a high-frequency sound that bounces off objects, and the animal's ears pick up the bounced signals to help it navigate through the dark.

Nose (Smell)

Some of these animals have an acute sense of smell. The koala's large nose, for example, allows it to sniff out the most appropriate leaves to eat in the dark.