By Abigail McBride and Monica Lasky
While some of us may hit the pool or hide indoors in the air conditioning during the heat of the day, animals don’t have these options. One way that animals deal with the heat is by coming out later in the day or at night. Over half of North Carolina native mammals exhibit nocturnal behaviors.
Most of the images caught on our camera traps are taken at night. These nighttime images give us a glimpse of the wildlife present that may hide away during the day and would otherwise elude our inept nighttime human senses.
From the chart below, you can see that 27,277 of 65,535 photos of wildlife from Candid Critters camera traps were taken at night – that’s almost 42% of all the photos in the project! Thus, wildlife cameras are one of the best ways for scientists to obtain photos and learn about nocturnal species that can’t be studied during the day.
What kind of nightlife activities could wildlife be up to at night? Often, animals are attempting to avoid us. In fact, more animals are seeking refuge in the night and not just to escape the heat but to escape people. As human encroachment on wildlife habitats occur, wildlife is forced to adapt to city life, and one of those ways is increased nocturnal behavior .
While white-tailed deer typically exhibit crepuscular behavior, being active at dawn and dusk. From the graph above, we can tell that the white-tailed deer are caught on camera in Wake County most often during the hours at dawn and dusk. By using camera traps, we can learn more about different activity patterns of wildlife.
What animals have you discovered in your area that you’ve only seen under the cover of darkness? Let us know in the comments below!
Reference:  https://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6394/1232