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Animals That Don’t Sleep, Look Asleep, or Kind of Sleep


We all know how important a restorative 8 hours of sleep is. Without it, humans and much of the animal kingdom couldn’t function.

You might be surprised to learn though that some animals don’t ever have the need for a peaceful slumber lasting the whole night! Here’s a quick list of what some animals actually do to gain sufficient rest…

Here’s a list of animals that do not require a full period of sleep…

  • Bullfrogs – need no sleep
  • Giraffes – can take short 10-minute rests
  • Ostriches – sleep while appearing to be awake
  • Sea urchins – take rest periods
  • Swifts – sleep while maintaining flight
  • Dolphins – show inactive periods
  • Jellyfish – rest despite having no brain
  • Fruit flies – vary from fly to fly
  • Horses – sleep for a short time, lying down or standing up
  • Elephants – sleep for 2 hours in the wild
  • Whales – sleep while still swimming

We can categorize most animal sleep patterns in a few ways:-

Animals that require:

  • No sleep
  • Very little sleep
  • Sleep while being awake

And we’ll go through each of these categories, but here’s how scientists go about categorizing animals’ sleep behavior.

What determines sleep for an animal

How do we know if an animal is asleep at all? It’s actually a complex area.

Some animals, like the horse, will stand and look awake, but equally sometimes will lie down and look asleep. On either occasion, they are gaining a form of sleep. Others are simply “inactive” which can be interpreted as “rest”.

There are lots of nuances, but I’ll try to make sense of them here. Let’s start with how we can best determine sleep.

Circadian rhythm and homeostasis

Scientists can discern the amount of activity the brain is producing by tracking two main internal biological mechanisms. Circadian rhythm and sleep-wake homeostasis combine to regulate and manage sleep and wake patterns

This in turn allows scientists to determine the amount of rest an animal is receiving over a given period of time and how this affects its function and survival.

An animal’s waking time is also a factor, so this will also depend if an animal is Diurnal, Nocturnal, Crepuscular, or Cathemeral. This essentially dictates when they rest vs hunt and carry out other activities.

When and where they rest can determine their ability to gain much-needed sleep… or rest!

the bullfrog does not sleep

Types of sleep for animals

We can categorize the types of sleep animals get into a few main areas:

  • Deep sleep
  • Paradoxical sleep (REM)
  • Homeostatic regulation
  • Unihemispheric sleep
  • Hibernation/Torpor/Estivation

Deep sleep

Much like humans, some animals require a period of time for deeper rest. This includes many burrowing animals and is also adopted by animals that operate best at certain times of the day or night, like beavers, or spiders.

Paradoxical sleep (REM)

Paradoxical sleep is a state of sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Some animals maintain this state regularly and sporadically.

Homeostatic regulation

Mostly attributed to marine life, a homeostasis regulation state enables sufficient awareness of the environment and body functions – but at a reduced rate that enables the mind and body to rest and regenerate.

Unihemispheric sleep

Birds are a very common adopter of a unihemispheric sleep state, allowing them to remain in flight on long journeys while allowing sufficient rest periods.

Hibernation, Torpor, and Estivation

Hibernation is a state of deep sleep adopted for longer periods of time, mainly in order to escape harsh seasons or avoid food shortages. You can find a list of animals that hibernate here.

One common animal that loves to sleep for long periods of time is the dormouse! But this is not the same as hibernation as it’s more regular, commonly known as a state of torpor.

Estivation is a similar tactic to torpor that helps some animals to reach a lower heart, metabolic rate, and other bodily activities in order to conserve energy and escape heat or water shortages. Examples of animals that use estivation include salamanders, crocodiles, and crabs.

The need for sleep in animals

The types of sleep listed above can be further broken down into three separate categories.

  • Vital – where sleep is critical for survival
  • Useful – meaning sleep is helpful to maintain or improve awareness and function
  • Accessory – where sleep is a luxury and lack of sleep does not impede function

And while I’ve “categorized” animals here for simplicity, it’s important to note that some animals can, and do, cross categories – depending on the situation.

For example, birds when at sea will adopt different sleep patterns to when on land.

So which animals never sleep and which ones sleep sometimes …or can sleep and be awake? Join me in finding out which species in our animal kingdom can be busy without the need for sleep as we know it!

Animals that never sleep

Time to dispel some myths. There is a lot of confusion around which animals can afford never to rest. And in fact, most studies found some signs of sleep in animals, even if that involves a period of rest.

The nearest example proven to be is the bullfrog …and even that has raised further questions on how studies were conducted.

All other animals have shown periods of inactivity which has been scientifically proven to be sleep/rest periods, or where observations have shown periods of inactivity that are likely in some way to be a state of rest.

Bullfrogs do not need to sleep?

So although there’s no rest for the wicked, it appears the bullfrog suffers the same fate! 

Many scientists, in fact, do not attribute the word sleep to many reptiles, amphibians, fish, and especially invertebrates. But in fact, indicate that almost all animals conduct a rest period.

Along with this group comes the bullfrog. In scientific studies, it appeared the bullfrog’s reaction to his environment was the same whether he was resting or active. But again, there are question marks over when the bullfrog was actually tested during its potential sleep/rest cycle.

This goes some way for us to understand that the bullfrog is often promoted as an example of an animal that does not sleep in any sense of the word.

Do jellyfish sleep?

It was long believed that jellyfish do not sleep …simply as they do not have a brain and are simply a network of nerve cells. But actually, studies have shown that jellyfish also have a period of rest.

Do sea urchins sleep?

Another example of an animal that was believed to never sleep is the sea urchin.

Sea urchins have not been scientifically tested for official signs of sleep. But sea urchins do undergo periods of rest where inactivity occurs. This is more akin to a state of homeostatic regulation which involves a lowering of body activity levels that many marine animals undertake to recuperate.

Let’s move on to those animals that need very little sleep in order to survive.

Animals that need very little sleep

Here’s a list of animals that are able to sleep very little compared to us humans.

Elephants – elephants get 2 hours of sleep in the wild

Elephants can go up to 46 hours without sleep. They sleep lying down, when in groups some stay awake to guard, while others sleep. They need little sleep, averaging around 2 hours of sleep per night. In captivity, this is nearer 4 – 6 hours due to reduced dangers and pressure to find food and water.

Elephants tend to sleep fewer hours of sleep during long-distance herd movements. During these periods there’s a need to avoid lions and poachers. The matriarch is the elephant that gets less sleep due to the pressures of leading the herd.

As elephants sleep for a given period of time in one go, they are known as Monophasic sleep, this is common among many mammals and also applies to humans.

Hippopotamus

The same sleep pattern applies to similar species such as hippopotamus, but the hippo usually sleeps for longer periods than an elephant.

Hippos can sleep up to 16 hours a day, and are mostly active at night. They can sleep adequately lying on the ground, but will often rest while seated in shallow water. And although they can hold their breath for 30 minutes underwater, they will usually sleep with their head above the waterline.

young hippo resting on the ground

Giraffe – giraffes use paradoxical sleep

Although most animals and all mammals need to sleep to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every morning, the giraffe has evolved to require very little sleep.

Giraffes sleep for 30 minutes at a time often consisting of drifting in and out for 5-10 minute periods. They sleep for up to about 4 – 4.5 hours per day. Giraffes sleep lying down and curling their head around onto their body, but can also sleep standing up. They can even sleep with one eye open.

They’re not the only animals that can sleep lightly and with one eye open. This high-alert sleep strategy is sometimes employed by other animals such as fruit bats, dolphins, and mallard ducks.

It’s important that we understand that many animals rest, but aren’t necessarily asleep in the human sense.

Horses – a horse uses paradoxical sleep patterns

Similar to their long-necked African cousins the giraffe, horses have perfected the art of paradoxical sleep. 

Like the giraffe, this sleep will often be with one eye open and is usually only for a short period of time.

Horses will usually close their eyes to sleep deeply when lying down, similar to how humans understand sleep. But this is usually only when protected by the herd or where they feel safe. Otherwise, like the giraffe, horses might fall under the next category of “appearing to be awake while they sleep”.

This kind of restful sleep for a horse won’t usually last long and is generally in the same kind of time span as a giraffe, so between 10 minutes and an hour. 

So let’s now dive deeper into our oceans and look at whether sea creatures sleep. Let’s look at one of our largest mammals, the whale.

Whales – a whale uses homeostatic regulation to sleep

It’s important to realize that when we talk of sleep for animals, It’s often unlikely to be exactly like the kind of sleep we enjoy. 

For most animals, including whales, it can best be described as a state of altered consciousness or less response to changes in their environment. This is as discussed earlier and known as homeostatic regulation,

Our most loved marine mammals such as whales, and dolphins reduce their responses in short bursts so they don’t drown.

Many whales can be seen resting motionless on the sea surface for around 30 minutes or so.  If they rest any longer, they may lose too much body temperature by being inactive.

Somewhat surprisingly according to animal scientists, dolphins and killer whales mothers and babies can go without sleep for up to four months after being born. 

Dolphins – adult dolphins utilize homeostatic regulation

Similar to their larger and more powerful cousins the whale, dolphins also have developed the unique craft of power napping.

They will sleep on the surface of the ocean in the same way as whales for periods of approx 30 minutes.

So although similar to humans, Dolphins need about eight hours of sleep a day, they sleep in a totally different way and they sleep almost in shifts.

They have a unique resting system which means the right brain rests while the left is awake and alert. The reason for this is similar to their larger cousins, whales, who need to make sure their body functions just enough not to drown!

dolphin underwater

Animals that appear awake when they’re asleep

Here are a couple of examples of animals that are in fact asleep, or rest to some degree, but will look like they’re awake.

Ostrich – an ostrich uses paradoxical sleep patterns

We are all familiar with the image of an ostrich resting with his head in the sand. But Ostriches do not actually sleep like this. They sit upright and rarely appear to be asleep.

So does an ostrich get any sleep as we understand it?

Although an ostrich is gaining sufficient rest and sleep time, they look like they’re awake, cleverly he looks wide awake or maybe just a little drowsy!

According to scientific studies, ostriches generally sleep in their special way around 8.5 hours a night. This makes them Diurnal creatures. With around 2 hours of that being REM sleep, rapid eye movement (which in humans relates to memory and creativity).

The ostrich, along with his similar sleeping pattern the ancient platypus, is one of the oldest animals in the world and their type of sleep is probably linked to their prehistoric roots.

Here’s a short observation video that demonstrates this in action.

Swift – the swift uses unihemispheric sleep

The swift is a remarkable bird. It spends much of its time on the wing. So they even hunt and mate while flying.

According to the New Scientist, swift’s spend an incredible 10 months of every year in flight. So it’s no great surprise that they will sleep on the wing too.

As humans expect a nice comfy bed and a full 8 hours, this super-fast little bird doesn’t sleep as we know it.

There is some discussion amongst the animal fraternity that they rest in a similar way to whales and Dolphins using homeostatic regulation. This is by switching off one half of their brain while the other half remains alert. But in fact, most birds use a system called unihemispheric sleep as described above.

According to scientific studies, Although swifts can rest in flight they sleep minimally, around 7 to 10 minutes a day while flying.

This contrasts with nearly 13 hours a day once landed. Let’s go into another winged member of the animal kingdom, the fruit fly.

Exceptions

As continued proof of the diversity of the animal kingdom, there always seems to be exceptions! So here’s one exception that has been found from studies. There are likely to be more that have simply not been studied yet.

Fruit flies – the fruit fly sleep patterns vary from fly to fly

In surprising studies, it’s been uncovered that fruit flies are unique in the fact some of them rest for 10 hours a day, but some of them do not rest or sleep at all!

This has turned what we think we know about sleep on its head! 

Scientific studies on fruit flies prove that sleep in both humans and animals can be divided into the three categories of vital, useful, and accessory.

And it appears fruit flies are unique in the fact that some of them take on board all three categories whilst others none!

The same exception category could also include rats, pigeons, and cockroaches who can exist for 20 to 30 days at a time without sleep.

image source and details of the study

More animal sleep help…

Why not take a look at the list of the most popular animals that hibernate. Find out the difference between crepuscular, nocturnal, and diurnal.  Or find out why beavers are nocturnal.

What Do Herons Eat: Complete List of What a Heron Eats


Herons are water loving birds known for their elegant and almost prehistoric silhouette. 

Today we will take an in-depth look into the complete heron diet, including how the heron dines across the day and across the seasons such as winter and summer …and why! 

I’ll also give detailed information about everything a heron likes to eat! But before we get started, let’s first look at the quick takeaway answer. 

While fish provide the majority of a heron’s diet, herons also stalk everything from insects to small mammals, such as flies and rodents. Their adaptability and razor-like long beak ensure they enjoy a variety of amphibians, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, worms, birds, and the occasional reptile. 

Before we start looking at a comprehensive diet list of these elegant birds, so that we can understand a little more easily about the types of food they eat, it’s good to know they are classed as wading birds.

What herons eat

Herons are a meat eating predatory water bird that is a top carnivorous predator in its own habitat. They’re also exceptional and persistent hunters and can spend up to 90 percent of their active hours hunting for food.

Herons are skilled hunters

All herons including the gray and the great blue herons are excellent fishers. They can be found stealthily wading through shorelines of a lake, river, or streams, patiently waiting for their next meal.

As soon as a likely candidate approaches. The heron will stretch out their very long neck and stand motionless.

Then, with their blade-like bill, herons will strike at the optimum moment to deftly catch their prey once the moment is right.

Herons diet consists mainly of fish 

As a heron’s habitat is mainly near water, it’s not surprising to discover that fish are the mainstay of his diet during the summer.

A heron can be found by any kind of waterway such as lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes and on the sea coast – and even in your backyard pond. He is well known for helping himself to an ornamental fish or two! 

heron stalks a riverbank

Types of fish a heron eats

The types of fish a heron will eat include the following:

  • Goldfish 
  • Small carp 
  • Any type of ornamental fish 
  • Striped and standard perch 
  • Minnow 
  • Flounders 
  • Sticklebacks 
  • Gunnels
  • Sculpin
  • Perch
  • Top smelt

The type of fish a heron has access to does depend largely on its habitat. Here are some examples of where a heron’s diet may vary based on availability…

  • In Nova Scotia, it’s unsurprising to discover that herons have a diet primarily of flounders.
  • In British Columbia where sticklebacks, gunnels, sculpins and perch are commonly found, herons will most likely dine on them most frequently. 
  • California herons were found to live mostly on sculpin, bass, perch, flounder, and top smelt. Topsmelt is found in a wide range of habitats which depend on the time of year. It’s most commonly found in Sandy beaches, along with the shore kind, and in some forest habitats. 

Herons eat crustaceans 

Herons of all varieties are also partial to a crustacean too and as an opportunist feeder, he will also supplement his diet with: 

  • Crayfish 
  • Prawns 
  • Crabs 
  • Hermit crabs 
  • Prawns 
  • Lobster 

Herons eat birds and their eggs 

Although we can understand a heron is likely to help himself to a fish supper at any opportunity, it might surprise you to find out he will also eat small birds.

Birds that are more likely to be found in his menu are ones found in and around his usual watery habitat. 

  • Sand martins 
  • Sanderlings 
  • Plovers
  • Sandpipers 
  • Baby and small gulls,
  • Woodcock 
  • Small water birds

Herons eat birds eggs

Herons will seek to locate and eat birds eggs. And size is not normally an issue. A heron can swallow eggs whole from all bird species its likely to come in contact with.

So as ducks are a popular visitor to the areas where herons hunt, you might be wondering whether herons eat ducks 

Let’s discover more… 

Herons eat ducks 

Ducks play an essential role in the diet of many types of heron. He can be found eating baby ducks from the beginning of the spring months, right through to the end of summer.

This coincides with the duck breeding season. Ducks form an important part of a heron’s varied and complex dietary needs.

Herons eat mammals 

A heron will supplement his diet with any kind of small mammal and have even been known to attack and eat large rats.

Along with the usual water dwelling mammals, he will eat a variety of mammals who share his habitat. These can include: 

  • Frogs 
  • Toads
  • Water rats 
  • Water voles
  • Field mice
  • Rats
  • Rabbits 
  • Squirrels 

Herons do not generally eat larger fowl such as chickens and larger ducks. Size is an issue, meaning herons cannot swallow the prey whole and instead would need to pluck feathers in order to tear up the carcass. Herons do not get involved in plucking feathers when there is easier prey available.

Let’s take a look at two of our more popular herons and find out a little more about what they eat. 

Blue herons diet

A blue heron along with its cousins the gray and large blue herons are built for hunting around shallow, slow moving water.

This habitat allows them to successfully hunt for prey likely to be living in such watery areas with their razor sharp beak and statue-like hunting style. 

Blue herons will also eat ducks. In fact, much like gray herons, a duckling up to a few weeks old can be devoured by a blue heron.

Great blue herons 

Here’s some facts and further diet information on the great blue herons:-

  • The great blue heron is very closely related to its less colourful cousin the grey heron. It’s for this reason their diets are very similar. 
  • Great blue herons will eat almost anything within striking distance of their razor sharp long beak.
  • While fish makes up the majority of their diet, anything from insects and even small mammals can be on the Great Blue Heron’s daily menu.
  • Great blue herons will hunt both during the day and the night. They have specially adapted eyes which help them to see in the dark.
  • The gray heron is a smaller bird weighing between 2.25 lb – 4.59 lb (1.02–2.08 kg) as opposed to the mighty great blue who interestingly can weigh less than his less tall relative at (4.01 lb – 7.95 lb (1.82–3.6 kg).
  • Great blue herons have specialized feathers on their chest that will grow continuously and fray into a powder.  This powder can be used to help clean off fish slime which makes up a large proportion of this majestic bird’s diet.

What herons eat in winter

Many herons return repeatedly to specific feeding sites, with the better ones defended against other herons

In winter, herons continue their diet of a variety of aquatic food, but most larger fish move to deeper waters as the temperature drops so herons broaden their intake to include a wider range of prey. At these times, occasionally a heron will make a meal of a rabbit, mouse, squirrel, or water vole.

They often also add to the protein intake by foraging for worms in flooded fields. 

Herons are expert ice fishermen 

Many herons are skilled ice fishermen. Which can most definitely be said of the large blue heron. 

He will sit waiting patiently by an ice hole for many hours before he plunges his razor sharp bill into the icy water after a fish.

Herons steal other hunters prey

Some anecdotal evidence also suggests that herons will employ its own food catcher in the form of diving ducks! As the duck retrieves the fish, the heron will immediately swoop down to intimidate the duck and steal its supper.

Do herons eat at night?

Most herons do not hunt at night, an exception is the night heron, of which there are a few species. Might herons hunt at night and rest during the day. Like most herons, they remain still until an opportune moment appears to strike their prey. Night herons feed on the same food as other herons.

Let’s take a look at a couple of other examples of what herons eat.

Do herons eat frogs?

Herons will eat frogs, toads, newts, water snakes, and even slightly larger tadpoles. They will also eat other water residents such as eels, turtles and salamanders. A heron is unlikely to eat frogspawn as they usually aim for single bodied animal targets.

Popular articles…

Here’s a selection of other popular and related articles to expand your learning further…

Do birds eat fish and Do ducks eat fish

What do foxes Eat, or What eats a fox

What do wolves eat, or What eats a wolf

What do moose eat, or The difference between an elk and a moose

What eats a bear, or What do Hyenas eat

What do skunks eat

Learning resources

To finish

I hope this has provided you with a deeper insight into the feeding habits and diet of herons. Don’t forget to check out my other articles.

When Animals Are Active: Diurnal, Nocturnal, and Crepuscular


So when are animals active? Humans can be active at all hours of the day and night. Some are busy working during the day, whilst others, a night shift. 

But what about our furry friends from the Animal Kingdom? Are some animals only active during the daytime? And which animals get on with their lives during the hours of darkness and even before the sun rises?

Let’s discover more about when animals are active in my helpful post, giving you all you need to know about when the animal kingdom gets busy! Here’s a quick roundup to start us off…

Around 70% of animals are active at night – Nocturnal. Diurnal animals are active during daylight hours. Crepuscular refers to animals active around dusk (Vespertine), and/or dawn (Matutinal). Cathemeral (or Metaturnal) animals’ activity varies based on behavior and other factors.

Animals vary in their active hours due to many factors. We’ll explore these a little more shortly.

But let’s start by exploring more about why animals – similar to their shift-working humans – often have different active periods during 24 hours.

Here’s an infographic that outlines the approximate periods of the day and night when these periods occur.

chart showing activity times over 24 hours

Why animals are active at different times, days and seasons.

In general, evolution in the animal kingdom has taken place which fully takes advantage of all opportunities.

The unique roles of each animal have evolved to ensure that they can utilize and optimize their environment and the world around them.

For this reason, some creatures take advantage of daylight hours. Others, roughly 70%, have evolved to live and hunt in the darker, cooler, and more humid nighttime. 

Sharing the environment 

The lighter, warmer, and dryer environment of daytime suits many creatures, including most of the primate kingdom.

By sharing the load day and night, animals can max out their environment and occupy the same territory without the need for competition for space.

This is more important when it comes to the challenge for food and hunting grounds.

Animals activity depends on many factors 

An animal’s wakeful times can depend on many factors. These can include: 

  • Temperature
  • Prey
  • Predators
  • Light levels
  • Humidity

The ecosystem makes use of symbiotic activity times

The whole ecosystem is designed in intricate measure around these kinds of concepts. For example, plants follow rules evolved by their diurnal and nocturnal pollinators.

Many flowers will open during the morning in order to attract bees that are more active during the earlier part of the day.

Alternatively, some flowers, like the moonflower, open during the evening until after sunrise in order to attract nighttime pollinators. They even have white flowers that help them to be found at night. And often fragrances from night bloomers can be heightened.

So let’s explore deeper by looking at creatures that are ready to start their day when the sun comes up. 

Diurnal 

Diurnal creatures wake and sleep with the rising and the setting of the sun. For instance, a turtle may be diurnal because it is cold-blooded.

So it will need to acclimatize to the temperature around it – but also to warm itself, it needs to bask in the sun.

That means that it has to be awake and active during the day.

Bald eagles and hawks are also awake with sunrise as this is when their prey is active, such as squirrels, and chipmunks.

Diurnal animals function less easily at night

The level of light intensity can be orders of magnitude dimmer at night.

So although animals who have adapted to living in the dark hours of nighttime can distinguish the difference between colors and contrasts of the nocturnal world, diurnal animals have limited ability. 

It’s interesting to understand that some diurnal animals aren’t able to distinguish anything at all.

Circadian timing system 

Along with their nocturnal cousins, diurnal animals share a common circadian timing system

This is what we have more commonly known as a ‘body clock’ which controls behavior rhythms such as:

  • Sleeping 
  • Waking 
  • Feeding 
  • Fasting
  • Physiology 

As I mentioned earlier, most primates are diurnal (which includes humans). Other common diurnal creatures include many mammals, birds, and reptiles. 

Being busy during both day and night is the most common animal activity group.

Nocturnal

Initially, most animals were diurnal, but adaptations that allowed some animals to become nocturnal are why many – especially mammals – evolved successfully. 

This move to nighttime living and hunting allowed animals to avoid certain predators …and hunt with less competition. 

Nocturnal animals have developed over the years with many useful traits to help them live and be active in the dark. Including: 

  • Visual sensitivity to distinguish colors,  and to detect faint movements
  • Learning  visual landmarks
  • Orienting to the faint polarization pattern produced by the moon, 
  • Navigating by using the constellations of stars in the sky.

Body clock and nocturnal animal activity 

As we saw earlier, it’s the body clock or circadian rhythms that are responsible for the ability of nocturnal animals to change their behavior in response to light and dark.

A nocturnal animal also has ‘clocks’ within its internal organs such as pancreas, heart, and liver which help to determine when it is active either feeding or fasting, during the hours of darkness.

Examples of nocturnal animals are bats, skunks, aardvarks, and owls. You’ll find another list of examples further below.

Let’s move on to crepuscular activity…

Crepuscular

Crepuscular comprises two groups. Matutinal animals are more active at dawn, such as deer and coyotes. And vespertine animals are active during twilight hours, such as moths and bats. Many crepuscular animals fall into both and are considered to have a bimodal activity pattern, such as rabbits.

The term matutinal is derived from the Latin word mātūtīnus, meaning ‘pertaining to the morning’. Whereas vespertine is derived from the Latin word vesper, simply meaning evening.

Dawn includes the hours where light from the sun provides visibility, but the sun has not yet crested the horizon. Twilight is the time of day that falls between day and night when there is light still available, but the sun is below the horizon. Twilight is also known as dusk or predawn.

This is different from animals that are nocturnal and diurnal.

Some active crepuscular animals may also be acting during days with low light levels, such as an overcast day, or active during the night when there is more light, such as by moonlight. 

Many animals are crepuscular 

Similar to their diurnal relatives, Many familiar mammal species are crepuscular, including some bats, hamsters, housecats, stray dogs, rabbits, ferrets, and rats.

Other crepuscular mammals include members of the large cat family such as jaguars, ocelots, bobcats, wombats, wallabies, and hyenas.

Some birds such as the barn owl and nightjar fall into the crepuscular – vespertine group. A vast array of insects including many moths are also active during the hours of dusk and twilight. 

So we can understand a little more easily about crepuscular animals, let’s discover matutinal and vespertine animals who slot into crepuscular activity at either end of the day.

Matutinal

Matutinal is a crepuscular animal that is active more during the early morning or predawn. Predawn is the hour before the sun rises.

It’s during this time these animals are active and busy carrying out their important business for the day, such as foraging, hunting, or mating.

During these hours there may be more food available than for their nocturnal cousins, which has ensured their adaptation.

It may also help these animals to avoid predation by other animals who are active during the day and nighttime. 

Matutinal examples include bees, gerbils, rats, and other rodents. 

Vespertine

The name ‘Vesper’ was a type of prayer practiced back in medieval times relating to the evening. It’s from this word we arrived at an animal who is known as a vespertine. 

These animals use the low light of dusk before sunset to hunt and mate. Low light levels mean they can hunt more effectively.

These animals use the diffused light to hunt out their diurnal prey who may be tired from a day’s activity and are more able to catch them unawares. 

The vespertine group of animals mainly includes insects, such as moths and flies, and species of bats and owls. 

Similar to their matutinal cousins, these animals can also fall into the crepuscular group – but will hunt mainly at twilight rather than early morning.

Cathemeral

Cathemeral animals are categorized as active either as nocturnal (nighttime), diurnal (daytime), or crepuscular (dawn and/or dusk). And distribute their time evenly among these categories. Some animals can move across from one category to another where it suits them to do so.

Reasons for an animal being cathemeral can include factors such as the availability of food, chances of predation, or temperature fluctuations during different seasons.

Below I’ve added a roundup of the category names and their typical hours of activity…

bird silhouette in early morning
Time periodHours of activity
DiurnalDaylight hours
NocturnalNighttime hours
Crepuscular (Matutinal)1-2 hours before sunrise
Crepuscular (Vespertine)1-2 hours after sunset
Cathemeral (or Metaturnal)Times vary, daily and/or seasonally

Example animals for each category

Here’s a list of examples of animals that fall into each of these categories. There are exceptions though. For example, most birds are Diurnal, but the Owl is mostly nocturnal. The bobcat is crepuscular in both matutinal and vespertine time periods but can also be cathemeral.

DiurnalNocturnalCrepuscular (Matutinal)Crepuscular (Vespertine)Cathemeral (or Metaturnal)
TurtlesOwlsBeesMothLemur
Most PrimatesRodentsPorcupinesGnatsKoalas
Most MammalsFoxesCoyotesBatLions
Most BirdsHedgehogsRabbits RabbitsFrogs
ReptilesBadgersBobcats Bobcats Bobcats 

And to finish on… 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this helpful article which has given you some information on classifications of animals according to their activity! 

It’s amazing to think that for the animal kingdom, all times of the day and night can be busy, busy, busy! 

If you would like to find out more facts and information about your favorite animals, don’t forget to check out my other articles! Here’s are some of the most popular articles…

Popular articles…

21 animals that hibernate

Are Beavers Nocturnal

Difference between: species and genus, variety and species, or varieties and subspecies.

Further learning resources…

Can Tigers Mate With Lions: Ligers and Tigons, a Guide


But wait, aren’t lions and tigers on different continents? So how can tigers mate with lions? Well, yes they are – mostly in different areas. And they would be seen as competitors in the wild, but there are circumstances when they do mate and produce offspring.

Let’s give you a quick answer, then we’ll get into more detail on their mating patterns and much more.

Tigers and lions can mate, and produce hybrids. Successful mating between a male lion and a female tiger produces “Liger”. And mating between a male tiger and a female Lion produces “Tigon”. However, most of this mating is done in captivity or is inseminated and does not occur in the wild.

With many hybrid animals becoming popular, many animals have caught the attraction of animal lovers around the world.

Some famous hybrid animals that people admire or see as some exotic luxury are hybrids that come from cross-breeding. Dogs are a classic example of this. Another rare one though is breeding between tigers and lions.

Here’s more information on animals cross breeding in the wild.

So this brings us to the more specific questions of – can tigers mate with lions? or… can lions mate with tigers.

Tigers can mate with lions

Not only can tigers mate with lions, but they can also produce some interesting offspring.

Hybrids between tigers and lions are becoming something of trophy animal that’s sold for huge profits – and has created several zoo attraction sites.

But the most interesting thing about their mating pattern is that tigers and lions don’t mate naturally or in the wild often.

Mating between tigers and lions (or vice versa), does not occur naturally …but is a result of insemination. Or, contrived mating under captivity.

This is because lions are from Africa and Tigers are from Asia and, generally speaking, they have no way of interacting, let alone mating in the wild.

So mating that occurs between a tiger and a lion is a man-made occurrence, and not considered a natural species. However, the succinct answer is yes, mating and producing hybrids is possible between a lion and a tiger.

ligers and tigons mating results

Ligers and tigons

Depending on who the mother and the father are, the name used to address or call these hybrids will differ.

When tigers mate with lions and produce hybrids it’s called a “Liger” or “Tigon”. The father species is denoted first in the hybrid name.

Liger

When the male (father) is a lion and the female (mother) is a tiger, the hybrid is called “Liger”.

Tigon

If the male (father) is a tiger and the female (mother) is a tiger, the hybrid is called “Tigon”.

However, there are several characteristic differences and special markings between a tigon and a liger.

These differences arise because of the mating partners. Meaning, depending on who the mother and the father are denotes the characteristics the resulting hybrid will have.

image source: pinterest

You might also be interested in the following popular articles…

Difference between variety and species
Difference between Species and Genus
What do lions eat
Do Lions live in the Jungle

Mating between a male lion and a female tiger 

Mating that occurs between a male lion and a female tiger is what produces ligers. 

There are approximately 100 ligers that exist in the world. And the largest liger that exists in the world weighs around 900 pounds. Ligers normally weigh twice as much as an average tiger or lion.

When comparing this mating pattern of producing ligers (male lion and female tiger), these hybrids are understood to suffer several health conditions.

One of the main physical characteristics unique to ligers or hybrids because of this mating is gigantism. Gigantism is where the liger never stops growing and expands in size.

To date, there is no proper evidence on why ligers or hybrids suffer this condition. But because of gigantism ligers suffer a number of weaknesses, such as bone, joint, and muscle issues.

When considering the mix of the parent’s species, ligers inherit 50/50 traits from the characteristics of a lion and a tiger.

They have a tawny (light brown) color coating and skin with the stripes of a tiger. If you saw a liger, you would distinctly notice both a tiger and a lion in one animal.

Mating between a male tiger and a female lion

Mating that happens between a male lion and a female tiger produces a tigon. Tigons also have similar traits to ligers, but they are smaller. Tigons in contrast to ligers receive a growth-inhibiting hormone from both parents, so because of this, they are much smaller than an adult lion or tiger.

Is mating between tiger and lions healthy?

Firstly, it’s very rare that different species would want to cross or mate with each other. And more specifically, if it’s species that are not meant to naturally breed together, the consequences are not only unnatural, they can be tragic.

This is why ligers and tigons suffer from several genetic defects. They generally suffer, grow weaker, and inevitably die at a younger age.

The mortality rate of ligers and tigons is relatively high. Often the hybrids from a lion and a tiger mating suffer from frequent bouts of cancer, organ failure, and other body deformities.

It has to be said that, especially with ligers weighing heavier than average cubs, it makes it very difficult for the mother tiger to carry them during labor. The mother can potentially fo go through labor complications – often requiring a C-section and sometimes ending with the mother dying during labor.

Also, males of the liger and tigons are sterile so they can’t reproduce. However, the female ligers and tigons, unlike many hybrids, can reproduce with a male tiger and a male lion.

So the reproduction ratio of these hybrids is very low and unreliable to the cat species.

Ligers and tigons do not contribute to the biodiversity of the cat species. The association of Zoos and Aquariums also recognizes that these mating and hybrids are harming the educational efforts and conservation of big cat species.

image of a tigers face and a lions face next to each other

So why do lions and tigers mate?

It’s very rare for lions and tigers to mate out of attraction or species diversification purposes. Mainly as they mostly live in different geographic regions, and they would be seen as natural competitors. Those that reproduce are done so in captivity by insemination, or by coercion.

Much of the forceful, or contrived mating and breeding are carried out mainly for the purpose of exploitation, and profits.

Find out if the king of the Jungle actually does live in the Jungle.

To close

Hybrids arise from the expectations of many Zoo visitors who want to see exciting and exotic animals, or from the curiosity of science. These unhealthy mating practices are encouraged all too often.

In the same way that ivory is handled, if only visitors ceased paying to see such unfortunate hybrids, maybe these brutal acts could end for good.

You might also be interested in the following popular articles…

Difference between variety and species

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Do Squirrels Eat Birds: Which Squirrels, When, How, and Why


We all love to see a squirrel scampering across a yard or in the park nibbling on his autumn stash of nuts. 

But I’m often asked about a range of squirrel-related questions. Along with their general diet, many budding Ranger planet detectives might be wondering do squirrels eat birds? 

So let’s start with the definitive answer before we delve a little deeper. 

Squirrels will eat small birds. As opportunistic omnivores, occasional meat content provides additional nutritional value that they will take advantage of. They do not actively pursue birds, but If they come upon a suitable nest, squirrels will feed on the eggs, chicks, and any bird carcasses.

All types of squirrel’s diets will depend largely on their environment. Here’s the full guide I added on what squirrels eat.

Expert confirmation

I reached out to a wildlife rescue organization to get their expert opinion on this question. The Linjoy Wildlife Sanctuary and Rescue regularly deal with squirrels and provide care for them. I asked them, do squirrels eat birds. In a nutshell, they said – “yes, all squirrels will readily take birds if they can get them”.

So with the quick answer and expert confirmation in mind, so that we can understand a little more easily whether squirrels eat birds, it’s important to find out the different types of squirrels. It could be that some types eat birds and others don’t! 

So read on to find out more. Let’s start with one of the most common squirrels, grey squirrels, and see if they are likely to eat birds. 

Do gray squirrels eat birds?

Gray squirrels are omnivores (which means they eat both plant and animal matter). 

Usually, when you see a cute grey squirrel on your tv, he’s usually busy stashing or nibbling on nuts, fruits, and seeds.

However gray squirrels are opportunistic feeders and will essentially eat anything they can find! This also confirms what the wildlife experts stated about squirrels eating birds if they can get them.

This not only extends to the carcass of a dead bird, but also they are well known for ransacking birds’ nests and taking eggs.

Now we’ve found out that the grey squirrel will predate birds, and will also feed on a dead bird’s carcass. Let’s discover whether the less abundant red squirrel is likely to do the same. 

“gray squirrels are opportunistic omnivores, and will essentially eat anything they can find!”

Do red squirrels eat birds? 

Red squirrels along with their less colorful counterparts are also known to feed on birds. 

Interestingly, although their diet is similar, they are known to be far more carnivores than their grey cousins. 

Although they look adorable nibbling on a nut, they will not only eat young birds, but they will also take and eat bird eggs. Here’s some footage of just such an occasion…

During their busy day of foraging for food, they are well known as nest robbers similar to gray squirrels.

It’s also not unknown for all types of squirrels to eat rats and snakes when their usual diet of nuts, seeds, and fruit is scarce or as a need to supplement their diet.

Do ground squirrels eat birds?

Similar to both gray and red squirrels, ground squirrels are omnivores which means they enjoy a variety of plants, with a healthy side of meat where possible. 

A ground squirrel’s diet will consist of nuts, buds, grains, and seeds, including wheat and corn wheat, and corn. But they may bolster this diet with meant to obtain additional minerals and vitamins.

They are not that fussy, so they may also eat frogs, insects, bird eggs, and fungi.

Do flying squirrels eat birds? 

In the same way as their flightless relatives, flying squirrels will also eat a dead bird. The Southern flying squirrel is usually found living in deciduous and coniferous forests and woodland areas.

Like the other types of tree squirrels, their diet will usually consist of vegetation, fruits, nuts, and berries. They are opportunistic eaters which means that they will eat any type of edible nutrition source they can find.

Flying squirrels won’t eat large birds 

In the same way as the rest of the squirrel family, flying squirrels will not attempt to eat larger birds that they deem too big in size to easily overcome.

However, flying squirrels will usually follow the same process as other squirrels as mostly they will steal and eat birds’ eggs – before resorting to eating a grown bird. 

So now we’ve discovered that these cute little bundles of fur are not averse to adding some extra protein and nutrients in the form of birds to supplement their diet, let’s find out why they eat birds.

“In the same way as their flightless relatives, flying

squirrels will also eat a dead bird.”

Why do squirrels eat birds? 

They eat foods outside of their typical diet when presented with an easy option. So recently fledged, or baby birds in a nest are an easy target for squirrels of all varieties.

Squirrels see these vulnerable birds as a quick source of calcium, protein, and many other vitamins and minerals.

They not only eat them but also potentially compete with woodland birds for nest sites, especially types of birds using large cavities or nest boxes.

What happens when squirrels eat birds?

According to recent research, in some woods, anecdotal information suggests that squirrels not only compete with birds for food, and are likely to eat them, but that they also prevent some types of owls such as tawny owls from breeding.

This competition for food and the possibility they will eat recently fledged or motherless birds can contribute to a decline in woodland bird numbers across the world.

But will a squirrel actively hunt out birds to eat? Let’s find out…

Do squirrels kill birds to eat? 

As we saw in the short answer, a squirrel will most likely not deliberately hunt down birds to eat. In general, squirrels of all varieties will not set out to kill or attack birds. 

However, if there is a shortage of food supply in their habitat they will not only eat baby birds but have also been known to feed on baby rabbits.

They will usually not attack a fully grown or larger bird. 

So now we’ve understood that squirrels not only eat birds but in some cases are actively responsible for the decline of some woodland birds, you might be wondering if they eat birdseed? 

Read on to find out if Birdseed is a tasty morsel for the carnivorous red, grey, flying, and ground squirrel! 

Do squirrels eat birdseed? 

We’ve all witnessed an opportunist gray squirrel taking his chances on a backyard bird feeder. So it’s fairly well known that these fluffy critters like a tasty snack on birdseed. 

One of their favorite additions to their diet is nibbling on birdseed and suet balls. Both red and gray squirrels will eat birdseed. Another favorite food of a squirrel is sunflower seeds.

You will often find them hanging from a sunflower devouring the many seeds they contain. They will often eat sunflower seeds first on any bird feeder.

Although they don’t generally inhabit areas close to humans, ground squirrels, along with flying squirrels are less likely to eat birdseed to supplement their diet.

squirrel eating bird seed

And to finish on… 

So that’s the real answer as to – do squirrels eat birds? …confirmed by an expert!

Although they are less likely to attack a bird, we have seen that squirrels of many varieties will include birds in their diet. 

If you want to know more about squirrels and animals in general, then here are a few related topics to check out…

How do squirrels nest?

What do squirrels eat

Where do squirrels go when it rains

What do foxes eat

How do squirrels nest

What Do Hyenas Eat? Here’s What Hyena’s Prey on, a Guide


Hyenas are well known for their voracious appetites, but do you know what they eat? 

You might be wondering if they eat everything they encounter, even the hooves! Or if they are partial to kings of beasts such as lions and elephants! 

Well if you are curious, you’ve come to the right place!  In this helpful article, I’ll explain all things hyena and their preferred menu! 

Let’s start by looking at the short answer before we delve right into the details. 

Hyenas eat wildebeest, antelope, gemsbok, zebra, impala, and food left from other animals kills. They will also eat larger prey separated from their families, such as young hippos, lions, and elephants. They eat a variety of reptiles, birds, and insects and are the only carnivores to eat hides.

The Spotted Hyena is the largest of the hyena family and is usually the type of hyena that we see in movies and cartoons. 

Its scientific name is Crocuta crocuta. It is also often called the laughing hyena. But what’s on their daily menu?

Let’s find out. 

What do hyenas like to eat? 

Spotted hyenas like many other animals are carnivores. They will eat a wide variety of animals of all types by hunting on their own.

Larger hyena prey

Hyenas are also well known as scavengers and will often eat from the kills of other larger animals like lions. 

These skillful hunters will also take down both medium and large-sized:

  • Wildebeest
  • Antelope
  • Zebra 
  • Impala
  • Gazelles
  • Gemsbok
  • Giraffe
  • Elephants (baby/adolescent)
hyenas track wildebeest
hyenas track wildebeest, Photo by Matthew Essman

Smaller hyena prey

There is a variety of smaller animals that a hyena will predate.

  • Ground birds or bird eggs
  • Rabbits or hares they can catch, or easily dig out.
  • Warthogs
  • Monkeys
  • Foxes
  • Wild dogs
  • Springhare
  • Porcupines
  • Snakes when food is scarce
  • Lizards
  • Jackals
  • Fish
  • Termites and other insects

If food becomes very scarce, then as scavengers, it’s not uncommon for hyenas to eat items outside their regular, preferred diet. These can include garbage, dung from other animals, and even anthrax-infected corpses. Hyenas will also eat vegetables, but not generally vegetation such as grass.

One of the questions I get asked here at Ranger Planet quite often is do hyenas dine out on the king of the jungle

“hyenas also will hunt snakes as an addition to their
diet if their preferred food is scarce..” 

Read on to find out more!

Hyenas eat lions

Although hyenas tend to avoid adult male lions and only set their sights on the younger, and weaker members of the pride, they will eat lions. 

It is fairly rare that hyenas set out to hunt a lion but if they came across a lion alone, for example, hyenas would definitely hunt and eat it.

Find out if Lions eat Hyenas, and what else lions eat here.

Hyenas eat domestic animals 

We all know that hyenas are part of the wild kingdom, but you might be wondering if they ever venture into neighborhoods to find their next meal. 

It has been known for hyenas to venture into semi-urban and rural areas of human habitation in order to find food. This could include cats and dogs.

Following on, some budding rangers out there might also be wondering if a hyena has the power to hunt and eat elephants?

Hyenas would eat wild dogs

Hyenas and wild dogs are natural enemies.

Usually, wild dogs will not engage hyenas in a head-on fight to scare them off unless they have the sheer weight of numbers. The powerful jaws of a hyena, combined with its larger 3 times greater weight, can easily cripple a wild dog. A single hyena can take on 3 or 4 wild dogs to steal their prey.

However, wild dogs are more likely to flee from hyenas. Particularly if there is more than one. Often hyenas will steal any prey that has been taken down by a pack of wild dogs providing they can scare the wild dogs away.

Hyenas eat elephants 

As we saw earlier, hyenas hunt their prey by isolating animals from a herd. They will rarely try to bring down an adult bull elephant as they just don’t have the power, even in a pack, to tackle such a powerful and large creature. 

Hyenas living in sub-Saharan Africa will also avoid very young elephants too as they are protected most fiercely by the herd. 

However, any juvenile, old or weak elephants separated from their families could be

Do hyenas eat each other? 

It seems as if for hyenas nothing is off the menu in terms of their daily diet! So I guess it’s unsurprising to discover that hyenas will eat each other. 

Many animals might be driven to scavenge meat, even that of their own kind, including hyenas, when food or specific nutrients are scarce.

So are you ready for this answer as to what hyenas eat? 

Do hyenas eat humans?

So although we would probably rather not know the answer to this! Hyenas are indeed capable of killing humans.

However, you’ll be pleased to find out that the type of hyena that may attack a human is extremely rare. They are the striped hyena.

These hyenas are listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature

They are the smallest of the true hyenas and you can be safe in the knowledge the chances of being eaten by a hyena are extremely rare. 

However, packs of all kinds of hyenas scavenge on corpses and that would include any human remains. 

It’s interesting to discover that the tribal Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania actually leave their dead to be consumed by hyenas.

Let’s discover a little more about how hyenas eat.

How do hyenas eat?

Hyenas have been known to hunt alone, but they most often hunt in a pack, isolating and chasing down a weak, old or infirm animal from a small group, or a large herd of prey. 

hyenas generally hunt in packs
hyenas generally hunt in packs

Hyenas have to eat quickly 

As the plains of the Savannah where many Hyenas live can often be desolate in terms of food sources, it’s important that hyenas eat very fast as the fastest hyena gets the most food and runs the last risk of having their food taken by lions before eating enough themselves.

So we know that hyenas eat all kinds of food from gazelles to snakes, but do they eat all of it? 

Do hyenas eat everything they kill? 

Many animals can be choosy about what parts of animals they eat whereas others eat all of their prey and some even go on to stock their own larder. 

This is usually a shallow water hole where other predators such as vultures and jackals are unable to steal them away, known as a cache.

Surplus or hen house killing 

We know that hyenas practically invented excessive killing (which is known as surplus killing or henhouse syndrome) which is a pretty common behavior in some animals. It essentially means they kill more than they can eat in one sitting.

This term was coined by a biologist from Holland called Hans Kruuk after he studied the eating habits of African spotted hyenas. 

But it’s worth knowing that they also consume the entirety of their prey. This includes bones and carrion…

Hyenas eat almost all of a carcass 

Hyenas are one of the few animals that can eat every part of a carcass, including the bones. Their powerful jaws and evolved digestive system mean they can crunch through bone and extract the most nutrition from the bones of their prey. But bones only account for a small portion of a hyenas diet.

However, hyenas are not great fans of fur, hair, hooves, or horns and will generally leave those for other scavengers.

They are the only carnivores that can use their powerful teeth and jaws to eat animal hides.

This might explain why they are associated with greed. 

Hyenas have the ability to detect carrion (rotten meat from a carcass) from up to 4 kilometers away. 

“Hyenas are one of the very few animals that can eat
every part of a carcass, including the bones.”

Here’s a qwuick summary table of the prey and food that Hyenas will eat. There are likely variations on some animals, and other types of food, but this is the most complete guide you will find.

Large Hyena PreySmaller Hyena PreyOther Hyena Food
WildebeestGround birdsTermites
AntelopeRabbits or haresOther insects
ZebraharesGarbage
ImpalaWarthogsVegetables
GazelleMonkeysBird eggs
GemsbokFoxes
GiraffeWild dogs
Elephants (baby/adolescent)Porcupines
Lizards
Jackals
Fish
Rodents

And to finish on…

I hope you enjoyed my article on hyenas and the types of food they eat. 

Who knew they eat insects! 

If you are a fan of animals and their diets don’t forget to check out my other helpful articles. Here are some related articles you might like…

What Do Lions Eat

Which Animals Eat a Wolf? or What Do Wolves Eat?

What Eats a Rabbit?

Do lions Live in the Jungle?

What eats a bear

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