Stunning Closeup Photos Of Nocturnal Animals We Rarely See

Photographer Traer Scott gained off-hours access to zoos all around the world to show us the hidden world of wildlife that stays awake at night.

Most of us rarely see many nocturnal animals up close–other than maybe a rat in the subway, or a cat at home–thanks to the simple fact that most spend their lives in darkness. In a new book called Nocturne, animal photographer Traer Scott shares images of 40 different night-dwelling species in studio shots that capture details that viewers might not otherwise ever have the chance to take in.


“I think it’s a rare, intimate look at a lot of animals that you don’t see represented all that much in books and mainstream media,” says Scott. In her book, from Princeton Architectural Press, she included everything from capybara, the giant South American cousin of the guinea pig, to the Chihuahua-sized fennec fox.

Based in Providence, Rhode Island, Scott traveled to regional zoos and wildlife rehab centers to take the photos. Many of the images were shot inside a specially made black box with holes for the camera lens, so the animals would feel more comfortable and stay still.

“Logistically, it would have been completely impossible to take the photographs in the wild,” she says. “It would have been disruptive to them . . . and I think it probably would have taken 20 years to find all of them. But working with the folks I worked with, I was able to get really intimate access to these animals.”

She hopes to bring a little attention to species that are struggling to survive–in some cases, because of the ever-growing brightness of urban lights at night. “We hear a lot about elephants and tigers and so many species that are threatened now, but I don’t think there’s been quite as much information about animals that need darkness to thrive,” Scott says.

“Living where I live in the city, we can’t even see the stars at night at all because of the light pollution,” she adds. “Even something as simple as not keeping your porch light on all night can help.”

About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.