By Martyn Robinson and Bruce Thomson
How many wildlife TV shows are there about zebras and lions compared to koalas, antechinus and possums? Answer: a lot! African mammal migrations are visually spectacular but it certainly helps that they happen during the day time. In contrast, most Australian animals, certainly our mammals, frogs, reptiles and moths are mostly active at night.
This book discusses why our continent’s wildlife have developed a preference for being nocturnal and the adaptive strategies they use that enable them to travel, eat and breed at night. Chapters are divided by these strategies, such as animals that have excellent night-time vision, and those that use smell, touch, hearing and even electricity to be active at night.
Well written and packed full of stunning, large-format, colour photographs, this book is engaging and easy to read. All types of wildlife are covered such as geckoes, owls, frogs, microbats, quolls, native mice, snails, spiders, possums and even native blind marsupial moles. Cleverly, the book minimises dense text but instead centres on short, yet comprehensive, stories about specific animals. The reader can pick up the book at any page, become engaged with a wildlife story, and then put the book down again having learnt something new.
The final chapter encourages the reader to get out in the field to look for nocturnal animals. It discusses equipment and techniques, although I was surprised that it did not recommend covering a bright white beam with a red filter to minimise disturbance to the animal if observing for long periods. Bright white light temporarily reduces night vision of birds and mammals, which may impede their movement or foraging.
I would certainly recommend this book to Land for Wildlife members who want to know more about the nocturnal animals that share their property as well as other regions of Australia.
CSIRO Publishing, April 2016
Paperback, 134 pages
270 x 210 mm
Available from CSIRO Publishing
and other online or in-store bookshops.
Review by Deborah Metters