The animal kingdom is brimming with diversity, teeming with myriad species each possessing unique traits and roles within their ecosystems. In this intriguing exploration, we will be looking specifically at animals that start with the letter N. Join us as we delve into the habitats, characteristics, and fun facts of 35 distinct animals, all beginning with the fascinating letter N.
List of 35 Animals that Start with the Letter N
The Narwhal (Monodon monoceros) is a type of toothed whale recognized by the long, spiral tusk protruding from its head. Known as the ‘unicorns of the sea,’ Narwhals are creatures of Arctic waters. These marine mammals can dive over a mile deep, and their tusks, which are actually elongated canine teeth, can reach lengths up to 3 meters (9.8 feet).
Fun Fact: The Narwhal’s tusk is loaded with nerve endings and is believed to be used for sensing changes in the environment, including salinity levels of the water.
The Nyala (Tragelaphus angasii) is a medium-sized antelope native to Southern Africa. The males of this species sport spiralled horns and a dark grey coat, while females have a rufous coat and no horns. Nyalas are known for their extreme sexual dimorphism, where males and females have distinct appearances.
Fun Fact: Male Nyalas are known to perform a unique “dance” or “prance” when trying to intimidate rivals without resorting to actual combat.
The Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus) is a small marsupial native to Western Australia. Unique for being a diurnal (day-active) and insectivorous marsupial, Numbats primarily feed on termites, consuming up to 20,000 termites each day. They are easily recognized by their bushy tails, pointed snouts, and the striking white stripes across their rufous coat.
Fun Fact: Numbats have a long, sticky tongue that allows them to extract termites from narrow crevices. Their tongue can be up to 110mm long!
Nightingales (Luscinia megarhynchos) are small passerine birds known for their beautiful and complex song. Widespread across Europe and Asia, they prefer dense thickets and scrub where their brown plumage keeps them camouflaged. Despite their small size, Nightingales have a powerful and varied song, which has inspired numerous poems, books, and songs throughout history.
Fun Fact: It is typically the male Nightingale who sings, often at night, hence their name. This nocturnal serenade is used to attract mates and warn other males away from their territory.
Nuthatches are a family (Sittidae) of small passerine birds that are known for their ability to climb down trees headfirst, a feat that not many bird species can do. The nuthatch is an agile forager, adept at finding food in the cracks and crevices of tree bark. Their strong feet and unique posture allow them to face downwards on tree trunks, a characteristic that sets them apart from other bird species.
Fun Fact: The name ‘nuthatch’ is derived from ‘nut hack’, as they are known to jam nuts into tree bark and hack at them with their strong beaks to get to the nutritious insides.
6. Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a North American bird recognized by its brilliant red plumage and black mask on the face. It’s a medium-sized songbird with a distinctive crest, a pointed, conical beak, and a long tail. Cardinals do not migrate and tend to live around shrubs, woodland edges, or gardens.
Fun Fact: Unlike most bird species, both male and female Northern Cardinals sing, and they often sing duets with each other.
Newts are small amphibians belonging to the Salamandridae family. Known for their bright colors and smooth skin, newts are often found in damp environments, or near ponds and lakes in North America, Europe, and Asia. They have a remarkable ability to regenerate their body parts.
Fun Fact: In the case of injury, newts can regenerate their limbs, heart, spinal cord, eyes, and upper and lower jaws – a regenerative ability unmatched in the animal kingdom.
8. Nile Crocodile
The Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) is a large and aggressive reptile native to freshwater habitats in Africa. It’s the second-largest reptile in the world, capable of reaching up to 6 meters (20 feet) in length. Known for their potent hunting skills, Nile Crocodiles have an extremely powerful bite.
Fun Fact: Nile Crocodiles are excellent mothers. They carefully guard their nests and help their babies to water once they hatch.
9. Nymph (Insect)
In entomology, a nymph is the immature form of some insects which undergoes gradual metamorphosis before reaching its adult stage. Unlike a pupa, a nymph’s form already resembles that of the adult insect, but lacks fully developed wings. Many species of insects, such as grasshoppers, cicadas, and lacewings, undergo this type of transformation.
Fun Fact: Despite being juvenile forms, nymphs can often eat the same range of food as their adult counterparts. This can make them a significant part of the ecosystem.
Nautiluses are the sole extant cephalopods that possess an external shell. They are marine creatures that inhabit the deep slopes of coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. With their distinctive shell, tentacles, and ability to use jet propulsion, Nautiluses are considered ‘living fossils’ due to their few evolved changes over the last 500 million years.
Fun Fact: The chambered shell of a nautilus is one of nature’s engineering marvels. It allows them to control their buoyancy by adjusting the gas and fluid in its chambers.
11. Northern Right Whale
The Northern Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) is one of the most endangered large whales, with fewer than 500 individuals left in the wild. These baleen whales inhabit Atlantic waters and are known for their V-shaped blow, callosities on their heads, and lack of a dorsal fin. They were named “right” whales because whalers considered them the “right” whales to hunt.
Fun Fact: Right whales have the thickest blubber of any whale species, reaching up to 70 cm (28 inches) thick!
12. Nilgiri Tahr
The Nilgiri Tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) is an endangered mountain goat native to the Nilgiri Hills and the southern part of the Western Ghats in India. The male Nilgiri Tahr is larger and darker in color than the female, and has a distinct saddle-shaped patch on its back. The Nilgiri Tahr’s population has been reduced drastically due to hunting and habitat loss.
Fun Fact: A group of Nilgiri Tahrs is called a ‘herd,’ and these herds are typically composed of 6 to 14 animals, but some herds with over 100 Tahrs have been reported!
The Nene (Branta sandvicensis), also known as the Hawaiian Goose, is the official bird of the state of Hawaii. It’s distinguished by its partially webbed feet, striped neck, and soft call. Once on the brink of extinction, conservation efforts have helped the Nene population recover. These birds primarily inhabit grasslands and shrublands, feeding on grass, berries, and leaves. Their unique adaptation to volcanic environments allows them to navigate through rugged terrains and lava fields.
Fun Fact: The Nene is the world’s rarest goose. It was once nearly extinct, with only 30 birds remaining in 1952. However, conservation efforts have increased the population to around 2,500.
14. Northern Fur Seal
The Northern Fur Seal (Callorhinus ursinus) is a migratory marine mammal that resides in the northern Pacific Ocean. These seals have dense, waterproof fur, which was a highly sought-after resource during the 18th and 19th centuries. Adult males, known as bulls, have a distinctive mane of coarse hair on their neck and chest. They breed and give birth on remote islands, forming large colonies.
Fun Fact: Male Northern Fur Seals are significantly larger than females and can weigh up to five times more!
15. Newfoundland Dog
The Newfoundland dog is a large working breed known for its strength, intelligence, and exceptional swimming ability. Originating from Newfoundland, Canada, these dogs have webbed feet, a water-resistant double coat, and a gentle nature. They excel in water rescue operations and are often referred to as “lifeguard dogs.” Their large size, deep bark, and gentle demeanor make them great family pets and companions.
Fun Fact: A Newfoundland named “Seaman” was an integral part of the Lewis and Clark expedition and is the first dog to have traveled across North America.
The Nase (Chondrostoma nasus) is a freshwater fish endemic to Europe. It prefers fast-flowing waters, such as rivers and streams, and is primarily found in Central and Eastern Europe. With a streamlined body and down-turned mouth, Nases are well adapted to their habitat. They play an important role in the ecosystem by consuming algae off river stones, which helps maintain a healthy balance in aquatic environments.
Fun Fact: The Nase is known to change its diet from mostly plant-based to invertebrates when it reaches adulthood.
Nudibranchs are a fascinating group of marine gastropods known for their astonishing variety of colors and forms. They inhabit oceans worldwide, from tropical coral reefs to frigid seas. Nudibranchs display an array of intricate shapes, vibrant hues, and remarkable appendages, often resembling living works of art.
These captivating creatures are soft-bodied, and their name translates to “naked gills,” referring to their exposed respiratory structures. Nudibranchs are renowned for their feeding habits, which range from herbivorous to carnivorous, and their captivating appearance has made them sought-after subjects for underwater photographers and divers.
Fun Fact: Some species of nudibranchs can absorb the toxins from the prey they eat and use them for their own defense against predators.
The Nicator is a group of passerine birds endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa. They are known for their robust build, strong legs, and powerful bills. Nicators primarily inhabit woodland, thicket, and evergreen forests. They have a varied diet, feeding on insects, fruits, and seeds. With their loud, melodious calls, Nicators are vocal birds and use their calls to communicate within their territories and attract mates.
Fun Fact: The name ‘Nicator’ is derived from the Greek ‘nike’ or ‘nikator’ meaning ‘conqueror.’
19. Nettle Caterpillar
The Nettle Caterpillar (Darna pallivitta) is a moth of the Limacodidae family. As the name suggests, the caterpillar of this species feeds on nettles and other plant foliage. When disturbed, it raises its anterior and posterior segments to reveal bright warning colors, serving as a defense mechanism against potential predators.
Fun Fact: The larval stage of this moth species is covered with stinging hairs that can cause severe irritation and pain, much like a stinging nettle plant.
20. No See Ums
No-see-ums, also known as biting midges, are tiny flies that belong to the family Ceratopogonidae. They are found in coastal areas, mountains, and other damp environments. Despite their small size, these insects are notorious for their painful bite, which can cause severe itching and irritation.
Fun Fact: Despite their small size, no-see-ums are known to be a nuisance to many creatures, not just humans. They are even capable of harassing elephants!
21. Neotropical River Otter
The Neotropical River Otter (Lontra longicaudis) is a semiaquatic mammal found in Central and South America. These otters inhabit a variety of freshwater habitats, including rivers, lakes, and wetlands. With their streamlined bodies, webbed feet, and dense fur, Neotropical River Otters are excellent swimmers and divers.
Fun Fact: Unlike many otters, Neotropical River Otters are mostly solitary creatures, except during mating season.
22. Nicobar Pigeon
The Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica) is a magnificent bird species found in the Nicobar Islands and parts of Southeast Asia. Known for its vibrant plumage, it showcases a metallic green and bronze body with white tail feathers. The male sports a white head and neck, while the female displays a coppery brown coloration.
These pigeons primarily inhabit dense forests and feed on fruits, seeds, and insects. Due to habitat destruction and hunting, the Nicobar Pigeon’s population has significantly declined in recent years.
Fun Fact: Nicobar Pigeons have a distinctive call that sounds like a deep, repetitive “ook-ook-ook.”
23. Narina Trogon
The Narina Trogon (Apaloderma narina) is a visually stunning bird species endemic to the forests of Sub-Saharan Africa. The male Narina Trogon boasts an iridescent green plumage on its upperparts, a bright red breast, and a blue face. Females have a more subdued coloration with a grayish-brown body.
These trogons primarily feed on fruits, insects, and small reptiles. With their striking appearance, the male Narina Trogons are considered one of the most beautiful bird species in Africa.
Fun Fact: Narina Trogons are known for their unique nesting habits, often building their nests in termite mounds or abandoned tree holes.
24. Neon Tetra
The Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi) is a small, brightly colored freshwater fish native to the Amazon Basin. It is a popular choice for aquariums due to its vibrant blue and red stripes. Neon Tetras are known for their shoaling behavior and are found in large groups in their natural habitat.
Fun Fact: Neon Tetras are sensitive to water conditions and thrive in well-maintained, properly balanced aquariums.
Nighthawks are medium-sized birds belonging to the Caprimulgidae family. These nocturnal insectivores are skilled aerial hunters, capturing flying insects on the wing. Nighthawks possess unique adaptations that make them well-suited for their crepuscular and nocturnal lifestyles.
They have large, wide mouths and intricate wing patterns, enabling them to fly swiftly and maneuver adeptly during their feeding flights. Nighthawks typically roost during the day, blending into their environment due to their cryptic plumage, resembling rocks, branches, or tree bark.
Fun Fact: Nighthawks have a unique hunting technique known as “hawking,” where they fly with their mouths open, catching insects in mid-flight.
26. Night Monkey
Night Monkeys, also known as owl monkeys or douroucoulis, are small primates native to the rainforests of Central and South America. These nocturnal creatures have adapted to their dark habitats by developing large, forward-facing eyes, providing exceptional night vision.
Night Monkeys possess excellent hearing and rely on vocalizations to communicate with group members. They are arboreal, spending their nights high up in the forest canopy, leaping between branches with agility. Night Monkeys have a diet consisting mainly of fruits, leaves, and insects.
Fun Fact: Night Monkeys are monogamous and form strong pair bonds, with the male carrying and caring for the young.
The Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), also known as the blue bull, is the largest antelope species in Asia. Found primarily in the Indian subcontinent, these robust ungulates inhabit open woodlands, grasslands, and agricultural areas.
Nilgai males exhibit a bluish-gray coat, while females and juveniles have a reddish-brown coloration. They possess long, slender legs, distinctive white throat patches, and short, upright horns in males. Nilgai are predominantly herbivorous, feeding on grasses, leaves, and agricultural crops.
Fun Fact: Nilgai are excellent jumpers, capable of leaping over fences and obstacles as high as 1.8 meters (6 feet) with ease.
28. Northern Water Snake
The Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) is a non-venomous semiaquatic snake found in North America. These snakes have a slender body, keeled scales, and distinctive dark patterns, often resembling the markings of venomous snakes.
They are excellent swimmers, commonly encountered near freshwater sources such as lakes, rivers, ponds, and marshes. Northern Water Snakes are opportunistic feeders, consuming a wide range of prey, including fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and small mammals.
Fun Fact: Northern Water Snakes are known for their defensive behavior, often vibrating their tails in leaves and water to mimic the sound of a rattlesnake.
29. Northern White-faced Owl
The Northern White-faced Owl (Ptilopsis leucotis) is a fascinating owl species found in various habitats across Sub-Saharan Africa. As its name suggests, this owl has a distinctive white facial disc with dark markings around its large, expressive eyes.
Its body is grayish-brown, providing excellent camouflage against tree bark. Northern White-faced Owls are primarily nocturnal hunters, specializing in small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects.
Fun Fact: The Northern White-faced Owl has excellent camouflage, resembling the bark of trees, making it blend seamlessly with its surroundings.
30. Nilgiri Langur
The Nilgiri Langur (Trachypithecus johnii) is an Old World monkey species endemic to the Western Ghats of India. It is known for its glossy black fur, long tail, and striking white sideburns. Nilgiri Langurs are highly arboreal and inhabit evergreen forests, feeding primarily on leaves, fruits, and flowers. They live in social groups, led by a dominant male, and their loud calls echo through the forest canopy.
Fun Fact: Nilgiri Langurs have a unique digestive system that allows them to efficiently process the toxins found in their primary food source, mature leaves.
31. Nubian Ibex
The Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana) is a species of wild goat native to rocky mountainous regions in northeastern Africa and the Middle East. These agile and sure-footed creatures have long, backward-curving horns and a muscular build, enabling them to navigate steep and rugged terrains with ease. Nubian Ibexes are herbivores, feeding on a variety of plants, shrubs, and grasses found in their arid habitats.
Fun Fact: Male Nubian Ibexes engage in dramatic horn clashes during the mating season, competing for dominance and the opportunity to mate with females.
32. Natterjack Toad
The Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita) is a species of toad found in sandy habitats and coastal areas across Europe. They are named after their distinctive “nattering” call, which sounds like a rapid series of clicks. Natterjack Toads have robust bodies with warty skin and are well-adapted to a terrestrial lifestyle.
They have a unique method of reproduction, as their tadpoles develop relatively quickly in ephemeral pools, allowing them to complete their life cycle in temporary water bodies.
Fun Fact: Natterjack Toads have a remarkable ability to inflate themselves when threatened, making them appear larger and deterring potential predators.
33. Northern Gannet
The Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) is a large seabird found in the North Atlantic, particularly along the coasts of Europe and North America. Known for its impressive aerial dives, the Northern Gannet plunges into the water from considerable heights to catch fish. They have striking white plumage, long pointed wings, and a yellowish head and neck. These birds breed in large colonies on offshore islands and cliffs.
Fun Fact: Northern Gannets have excellent eyesight and can spot fish underwater from heights of up to 40 meters (130 feet) while diving at high speeds.
34. Nurse Shark
The Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) is a slow-moving, bottom-dwelling shark species found in warm coastal waters, primarily in the western Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. These sharks have a distinctive appearance, with barbels around their mouth and a broad, rounded head. Nurse Sharks are not aggressive and are known to rest in groups on the ocean floor during the day.
Fun Fact: Nurse Sharks are capable of “sucking” in their prey from crevices and cracks using their strong jaws and muscular mouth.
35. Nightingale Wren
The Nightingale Wren (Microcerculus philomela) is a small bird species found in Central and South America. Despite its name, it is not closely related to the true Nightingale. The male Nightingale Wren has a beautiful song, characterized by a complex and melodious sequence of notes. These wrens inhabit the undergrowth of forests and thickets, foraging for insects and spiders.
Fun Fact: The Nightingale Wren is known for its exceptional vocal abilities, mimicking the songs of other bird species in its repertoire.