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Top 5 Nocturnal
1. Caracal
2. Porcupine
3. Eurasian Eagle Owl
4. Honey Badger
5. Striped Hyaena

Animal Profiles

Top 5 Nocturnal


Caracal caracal
Family: Felidae
STATUS: Secure

Height at shoulder 45 to 70cm, weight 15 to 23kg. Coat sandy to reddish brown, with paler, spotted underparts. Face has black and white markings and backs of ears are black with long tufts.

Caracals like to pluck fur and feathers from their prey before eating, using their incisor teeth.

Hyraxes, birds, lizards, small antelope, also domestic livestock.

A litter of 1 to 4 is born after gestation of 69 to 78 days, in a hollow tree or disused antbear hole.

Open, dry country from semi-desert to savanna.

Southern Africa - throughout most areas. Also Arabia across to North-west India.

Despite their stocky build, these cats can jump up to 2 - 3m to knock down a guinea fowl in flight.


Hystrix africaeaustralis
Family: Hystricidae
STATUS: Fairly secure

The largest rodent in southern Africa - Length 84cm, weight 17kg. Crest of stiff hairs on head.
Entire upper body and hind-quarters are covered with black and white striped quills for defence. Nocturnal, they shelter by day in caves, burrows or crevices in rocks.

Bulbs, tubers, fruits, they also damage crops and trees. Gnaw bones to obtain phosphorus.

1 to 3 pups born in a grass-lined nest in the underground burrow system. One litter per year.

A wide variety of habitats, (except forests or dry desert).
Throughout Southern Africa, except Namibian coastline.

Porcupines DO NOT shoot out their quills in defence - if threatened, they run quickly backwards or sideways, jabbing the quills into their enemy.

Eurasian Eagle Owl

Bubo bubo
Family: Strigidae
STATUS: Common in some regions, endangered in others, extinct in the British Isles.

This is the world's largest owl, matched in weight by the Snowy owl, in wingspan by the Giant Eagle Owl.
In the wild, they may live up to 20 years. In captivity 60 years has been recorded.

Mice, rabbits, even foxes, young sheep & Roe deer. Also birds, including birds of prey.

They nest in woodland & on cliff ledges. The female lays 1 to 3 eggs and incubates them on her own for about 33 days. The male brings her food, continuing for another month.

All types of habitat from forests to deserts.

Throughout Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, the Middle East & Asia and as far south as the Sahara desert in Africa.

Despite their size, these owls weigh only about 3 - 4 kg

Honey Badger

Mellivora capensis
Family: Mustelidae
STATUS: Vulnerable

Weigh 6 to 12 kg. Small and stocky, with strong front legs and long claws for digging.
Upper parts (mantle) grizzled grey with white border, coloured brown by soil, lower parts pure black.
These clearly visible contrasting colours are a warning to keep away

Very varied - includes scorpions, mice, spiders, insects, lizards, frogs, snakes, also fruits, honey and bee larvae.

1 to 3 young are born in a burrow or among rocks.

Open, dry savanna to dense forest - almost every habitat except true desert.

Throughout southern Africa to Morocco, Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia. Arabia to Turkestan, India, Nepal.

Honey farmers hate them for ripping open bee hives.
The conservation solution is to mount hives on poles out of reach.
Johannesburg Zoo's logo features a Honey Badger, known for persistence and resilience.

Striped Hyena

Hyaena hyaena
Family: Hyaenidae
STATUS: Near Threatened


Shoulder height 66 - 75 cm.
Males weigh 26 - 41 kg, females 26 - 34 kg. They hunt alone but gather in small family groups.
Nomadic, moving from water hole to water hole, but never further than 10 km from water. When threatened, the shaggy mane can be raised so that they appear bigger.

Largely scavengers, they also eat small animals, fruit and insects.

The female digs a burrow shortly before giving birth to a litter of 1 to 4 pups, average 3. Both parents feed the pups until
weaned at 8 - 12 months.

Tropical savanna, grasslands, semi-desert, scrub forest and woodland.
Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and western India.
Extinct in Europe, but occasionally seen in Anatolia.

Like other animals of hot climates, their ears radiate heat to help them cool off.

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