Crafting Exhibition » Nocturnal Animals



  • A child admires a stuffed barn owl.
  • Drawing of a nocturnal insect
  • Giant pellet activity
  • Model snail
  • Visual of Nocturnal Animals (Veilleurs de nuit): a bird singing in the night

Nocturnal Animals

We sleep during the night because our species is one of the vast majority of animals that are adapted to diurnal life. Some species, however, rest during the day and are active at night. Their senses are often differently developed to our own.

When night falls there is less light, humans are less active, and there is a significant drop in noise pollution. Nature returns to the centre stage. Are you ready to wake up your senses and set off on a journey to meet the strange inhabitants of the night?

The 'Nocturnal Animals' exhibition-workshop is made up of four zones which involve tasks or role-plays linked to nocturnal animals.

Didactic document(s)

Rent the Exhibition-Workshop

Area: approximately 100m2

Placement: 3 possible variations

Electrical Resources: at least two sockets

Target Audient: children aged 6-12, individually or in groups

Visit Duration: 120 minutes

Language: activities available in French or Dutch (for other languages, please contact

Transport, set-up and dismantling are carried out by BNEC (prices subject to agreement)


Zone 1: ‘The Lobby’
  • Children take a closer look at pictures of the different nocturnal animals that live in our towns.
  • The nocturnal animals on display include a barn owl, grasshopper, a wood mouse and a European badger.

In the welcome area different nocturnal species are displayed as if in a portrait gallery. Children learn the answers to:

What do all these species have in common?

What advantages do these species have because they are nocturnal?

Are they active all night or just at certain times?

What do ‘nocturnal’, ‘diurnal’, ‘dawn’ and ‘dusk’ mean?

The scene is set, let the adventure begin!

Zone 2: ‘The Darkroom’ - Adaptation to Nocturnal Life
  • An activity where you have to identify different smells.
  • A young visitor smells the first sample. What about you, do you smell good?

Lots of species are adapted to the darkness of night. Some animals have vastly improved eyesight, and make the most of starlight, like nocturnal birds of prey. Other species, sometimes those with improved eyesight too, use different heightened senses like hearing (in field mice, owls and of course bats and their ultrasound echolocation), or sense of smell (in hedgehogs or moths), and touch (in shrews and cockroaches).

This night-like setting is the chance to hone so-called ‘less important’ senses.

It’s in the dark zone, therefore, that pupils have the chance to discover the nocturnal adaptations that these species have developed. Four abilities are explored: sight, hearing, smell and touch. Each of these senses has an associated activity that illustrates how we light-living humans are at a disadvantage in the dark.

Zone 3: ‘The Magnifying Box’
  • Children complete a species profile.
  • A stuffed martin

Here, the focus is on eight species that are active at dusk or at night. They are common or rarer species that can be found in towns. All of them have developed features that we hope will enable children to easily recognise , and above all, protect them.

In the third part the children are divided into small groups to take on the role of scientists who study nocturnal life. Each group must complete the identity sheet of a species using a series of clues found around the exhibition. Once the information has been collected, the groups take it in turns to present their species.

Zone 4: ‘The Lab’ - What Can Pellets Tell Us?
  • Children analyse the contents of a giant pellet.
  • Thanks to the contents of the pellet children can identify the raptor that regurgitated it.

Analysing pellets can be very informative. They can tell us what nocturnal birds of prey eat, and about the different species of shrew in a particular area.

With the help of giant pellets and a rug that acts as an identification key, each group of children is given a task: they have to discover which nocturnal raptor regurgitated the pellet, and which animals it had eaten.

It’s a playful way to get to grips with a scientific procedure. 


Script and concept: Katelijne De Keysel, Claude Desmedt, Niko Schmit, Nathalie Vanhamme

Production: Pascale Golinvaux, Claire Goovaerts, Pascal Kileste, Danny Lieferinckx, Liliane Verdurmen, Genevieve Yannart, the carpentry and the Museum of Natural Sciences technical team

Graphics: Claude Desmedt

Lighting: Benoit Lambert

Coordination: Pierre Coulon


And our thanks to everyone who supported us in the development of this exhibition-workshop.
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