Diurnal Nocturnal Animal

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Animals in fiction tend to be shown being active at the wrong time of day or night. These terms describe when an animal is most active.

  • Nocturnal - active primarily at night.
  • Diurnal - active primarily during the day.
  • Crepuscular - active primarily during both dawn and dusk. Many animals that are casually referred to as nocturnal are actually crepuscular. Though not generally active in the middle of the night, they are similarly absent in broad daylight.
    • Matutinal - active primarily during the dawn and/or early morning.
    • Vespertine - active primarily during the dusk and/or evening. Vespertine animals are usually referred to as nocturnal.
  • Metaturnal - active part of the day and part of the night.
  • Cathemeral - can be active at any time of the day or night; basically diurnal, nocturnal, and crepuscular combined.

Authors tend to ignore these restrictions. Happens particularly often to owls. It's worth noting that not all bats nor all owls are nocturnal.

Compare Misplaced Wildlife. Often a case of Did Not Do the Research.

Examples of Diurnal Nocturnal Animal include:

Fan Fiction


  • Messenger owls in Harry Potter can be sent at any time, day or night, no matter the species. Of course, considering the setting and the distances they seem to cover in a very short time as well as the relative lack of care compared to what they really need, they may well be magic.


  • Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has noted that snowy owls are actually one of the rare diurnal species, a fact she didn't realize when she started writing about how Hedwig would go out flying every night after a long day's rest. She suggests being a magical animal may have something to do with it in-universe, however.
    • In the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone the Muggle news contains an item about how strange it is that so many owls are being seen in daylight, as a result of the Wizard celebration of Voldemort's first downfall.
  • Warrior Cats by Erin Hunter. Cats active mainly in the daylight?! Word of God states that it is to prevent most of scenes happening in dark. But isn't that cats can not see well in the day, but can see clearly in the night?

Video Games

  • Rouge from Sonic the Hedgehog.
    • The Yagyu from the Archie comic.
  • Hoothoot and Noctowl can be sent out at any time, though they can only be caught at night.
    • Which is strange the other way, as Hoothoot is based on the diurnal Burrowing Owl.

Western Animation

  • Owl from Winnie the Pooh.
  • Disney's Robin Hood has a fox playing Robin Hood and Maid Marian. They stay awake during the day, despite foxes being crepuscular. And on the occasions where they come into human contact, foxes tend to become... nocturnal.
  • The Fox and the Hound (film) has the owl mentor of Tod, but her species is dubious and thus her diurnal/crepuscular/cathemeral/nocturnal deal.
  • Averted in The Great Mouse Detective because the movie takes place only at night and the characters are mice, a rat (Ratigan), and a bat (Fidget), which are crepuscular/nocturnal.
  • Deconstructed in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, where Herriman insists that even a nocturnal owl friend be up during the day, helping. Frankie protests against this and eventually runs for the administrative position of Foster's, among her campaign promises to adjust sleeping schedules to accomodate nocturnal friends.
  • Played with in Birdz: Sleepy Bat is awake during the day, but is constantly falling asleep.

Real Life

  • Tasmanian Devils are nocturnal. So much for the sky always being yellow.
  • Wolves are also primarily nocturnal/crepuscular, but Loopy de Loop seems not to have heard.
  • Related: Many mammals, such as deer, cats, rabbits, and mice, are either crepuscular, cathemeral, or metaturnal.
    • Try to find a cat in fiction that is uncomfortable in daylight (though many cats tend to be comfortable in daylight and domestic cats, European wildcats, and cheetahs do just fine in broad daylight.)
  • Raccoons are nocturnal/crepuscular, but rabid raccoons are diurnal.
  • Snowy owls are diurnal.
  • Fossas are cathemeral.
  • Cats are generally cathemeral and/or metaturnal, though Cheetahs and European wildcats are diurnal and lions are crepuscular and tend to be more active at night.
  • Mongooses are diurnal.
  • Guinea pigs are diurnal.
  • Most members of the squirrel family are diurnal except flying squirrels, which are nocturnal.
  • All monkeys are diurnal except douroucoulis (a.k.a. night monkeys or owl monkeys), which are nocturnal.
  • Numbats are diurnal, unlike most other marsupials.