Outforia Quicktake: Key Takeaways
- Animals that start with ‘N’ include the narwhal, nautilus, nematode, naked mole rat, Nile crocodile, nightingale, Nilgai antelope, noctule bat, neon tetra, and natal ghost frog.
- Some of these animals, like narwhals and Nile crocodiles, are quite large, while others, such as neon tetras, are small.
- Some ‘N’ animals have unique abilities or features, like the narwhal’s tusk-like tooth, the nightingale’s song, or the noctule bat’s hunting behavior.
- Many ‘N’ animals are lesser-known or endangered, making it important to raise awareness about them.
- In this article, we also discuss other fascinating ‘N’ animals such as Nabarlek, Northern Night Monkey, and several species of newts.
Like the narwhal whale, some animals that start with N are more obvious than others. However, some are so obscure that science has only just discovered and categorized them.
Sadly, a few of the animals that start with N are already in danger of extinction. Perhaps if more people were aware of them and their beauty, they could still be saved.
Discover more about these special animals whose names start with N, including their origins and special qualities.
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1. Narwhal (Monodon monoceros)
The narwhal is a very special animal. It has a long cultural history as the mythical “unicorn” of folklore. Its long, twisted horn was sold as a unicorn horn for vast amounts of money in medieval Europe.
Narwhals are a species of whale. Their horn is actually a protruding tooth that has over 10 million nerve endings. This can be over 10 ft long (3 m). Some narwhals can have two tusks, and some have none.
Narwhals live in the icy waters of Canada, Norway, Greenland, and Russia.
The whole length of a narwhal is about 17.18 feet (5.18 meters). This means that the horn is longer than half of the narwhal.
2. Nautilus (Nautilus sps)
The Nautilus is a throwback to the times before dinosaurs. Nautilus lived 480 million years ago, and they still live today. There are a total of seven species. The paper nautilus and the pearl nautilus are two of the most well-known.
Cephalopods, like octopuses, are related to nautilus. They can’t see very well. They can only see light and darkness. However, they have a good sense of smell and can feel where they are in the water.
The chambered nautilus can raise and lower itself in the water by releasing fluids from the chambers in its shell. A siphuncle, which is a tube, connects these chambers.
Nautilus mating is unusual, too. The female is many times bigger than the male. In the case of the paper nautilus, the male wears his reproductive parts on top of his head. He fires them at the female—and then dies.
You can find chambered nautilus in the Pacific Ocean, especially in the western part. You can also find it on the Great Barrier Reef and near Samoa.
The chambered nautilus grows to 10 inches (25 cm).
3. Nematode (Nematoda sps)
Nematodes are known as roundworms. There are about 20,000 species. Most are parasitic on animals, but some live in beer, vinegar, and water-filled cracks deep underground.
Nematodes shed an external cuticle at least once in their lives. This is akin to molting birds and reptiles. They can infect humans and pets. Children can pick up roundworms. Hookworm, pinworm, lungworm, threadworm, and eelworm are all parasitic nematodes.
They are also the deepest living organisms known on earth. Two species of nematodes live 3.6 km (2.2 m) below the Earth’s crust in water seeps.
Nematodes can vary in size from too small for the naked eye to 7m long—a species found in the gut of whales.
4. Naked Mole Rat (Heterocephalus glaber)
Naked mole rats are hairless rodents. They are neither moles nor rats, however. They are actually more closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs. There are other species of mole rat, but only the naked mole rat has no hair.
As they live underground in burrows, the naked mole rats don’t need a covering of hair. They do have very fine hairs on their bodies that are difficult to see. These are very sensitive and help the mole rat navigate.
Naked mole rats have a highly developed social structure. They live in a colony and work together, as well as having different roles and jobs.
A mole rat queen presides over them all and is the mother of most of them. This sort of behavior is known as eusocial behavior.
You can find naked mole rats in Eastern Africa: Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya.
They grow to be 7.5cm (3 inches) long and weigh 35 g (1.2 oz). Amazingly, the mole rat soldiers and queen are bigger and heavier—the queen can weigh 75 g (2.6 oz).
5. Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus)
Nile crocodiles are estimated to cause 200 deaths per year in the East African, Madagascan, and Nile Valley regions. There are plenty of them, too. They are classified as “least concern” by the IUCN.
These crocodiles are very good mothers, despite their appearance. Crocodile mothers will protect hatchlings by taking them into their mouths.
The crocodile mother also regulates the temperature of her eggs by adding or taking away layers of mud and sand.
They can reach 20 feet (6 meters) and weigh 1,650 lbs (748 kg). This makes them the second-largest crocodile in the world. They like to live in mangrove swamps, rivers, and freshwater marshes.
6. Nightingale (Luscinia sps)
Nightingales have a fantastic singing voice but tend to look quite nondescript. They can vocalize around 1,000 different notes. It’s the male who does most of the singing. He sings all night to attract a mate.
Nightingales can create a fast succession of notes and have an incredible vocal range. It makes sense that Hans Christian Andersen wrote the story “The Emperor and the Nightingale.”
Nightingales can be hard to spot due to their drab colors and habit of hiding in the middle of bushes.
European nightingales are less shy than their English counterparts. Some of them, like the UK-based Luscinia megarhynchos, are on the Red List as endangered in their native habitat.
You can find nightingales in southern Europe and the UK. Nightingales grow to 6.5 inches (17 cm) long and weigh just 20 grams.
7. Nilgai Antelope (Boselaphus tragocamelus)
Nilgai antelope are social and live in groups of 10 to 30. When alarmed, they can make a roaring noise and speed off at 29 mph (47 km/h).
The Nilgai antelope originates from India. In the 1920s and 1930s, they were imported into the US as zoo animals. Their natural habitat is the scrubby foothills of the Himalayas. The grassland and scrub of Texas suit their needs just as well.
They were also released into Texas as big game animals for hunters to shoot. Apparently, Nilgai tastes delicious.
Nilgai are one of the largest Asian antelopes. A Nilgai can be 2m (6ft) long and up to 150cm (59 inches) at the shoulder.
8. Noctule Bat (Nyctalus noctula)
Noctule bats hunt at night above the tree canopy in Britain. They enjoy munching on moths, winged ants, midges, and beetles. They live in rotted holes in trees.
In the breeding season, the male finds a suitable hole and entices females using a winning combination of special calls and a strong odor. A male Noctule bat will often mate with several females. The female gives birth to one pup in a breeding colony.
The Noctule Bat is Britain’s largest bat species. That’s not saying much, as its total length is 4 to 5 cm (1.5–1.9 inches) at the most. They are golden brown with small, rounded ears.
9. Neon Tetra (Paracheirodon innesi)
Neon tetras are tropical fish that are popular in fishkeeping. I have kept some of these, only to have them eaten one by one by my sneaky catfish.
Over 1.5 million neon tetras are imported into the US as aquarium fish every month.
Neon tetras have striking bands of iridescent blue and red. They normally group together in large shoals. They like acidic water.
Neon Tetras come from the Amazon basin: Brazil, Colombia, and Peru.
Male neon tetras have brighter colors and a more slender body shape than females. Females lay eggs by scattering them. Neon Tetras are small—only 4cm (1.6 inches) long.
10. Nabarlek (Petrogale concinna)
The shy Nabarlek is Australia’s smallest species of rock wallaby. They are endangered, most likely due to predation by introduced animals such as cats.
Changes to fire regimes and competition from introduced herbivores are also factors.
The Nabarlek is very similar to other rock wallabies, such as the young Short-Eared Rock Wallaby and Monjon. It can only be told apart by analyzing the DNA of their feces and the skull shape of the animal.
Nabarleks like to live in the remotest rocky regions of Australia, which makes them hard to find and study.
A full-grown Nabarlek rock wallaby is just 1.3-2kg (2.9–4.4 lb) in weight.
11. Natal Ghost Frog (Hadromophryne natalensis)
The mating call of the male natal ghost frog sounds like a faint ringing bell. After mating, a female will produce 50 to 200 eggs and attach them to the underside of an underwater rock. They will hatch in 4 to 5 days.
Natal ghost frogs like to burrow into small, tight-fitting holes in stream banks. The only thing you can see is their snout. It is much easier to find their tadpoles. The tadpoles have fang-like teeth.
The natal ghost frog comes from South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho. It lives in fast-flowing streams in mountainous forests. They are very good at clinging to rocks due to their sucker-like mouths.
The natal ghost frog male is 45 mm (1.8 in) long, and the female is 63 mm (2.5 in) long.
12. Nurse Shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)
Nurse sharks are unusual for sharks as they don’t need to keep moving forward to breathe. Instead, they can lie still on the seabed and pump water over their gills.
They feed on sea snails, crustaceans, and mollusks, as well as corals and algae. Their mouths are too small for larger prey.
Nurse sharks are really social sharks. They like to hang out in groups of up to 40. They don’t seem to have a social hierarchy. They make strange sucking sounds as they hunt for food, too.
You can find them in the Atlantic and Pacific, especially around the Caribbean. Nurse sharks are fairly large—up to 4.5m (15 ft).
13. Newts (Caudata sps)
There are 804 members in the newt and salamander family, Caudata. New species are discovered every year, though, so this list is not exhaustive.
Newts have some really cool superpowers. Some can regrow lost limbs. Others can secrete toxins so powerful that they can kill a person through their skin.
Newts and salamanders have soft, permeable skin. This means they need to stay moist or near water.
Some newts have lungs, and others have gills. The ones with gills are completely aquatic.
Most newts are smaller than 8 inches (20 cm). Although the Giant Salamander of China can reach 5 feet (1.5 meters) long,
14. Northern Night Monkey (Aotus trivirgatus)
Northern Night Monkeys are nocturnal and can only see in shades of black, white, gray, and orange. Their eyes don’t have a tapetum lucidum, which is the part of the eye that gives nocturnal animals shiny eyes at night.
Northern Night Monkeys go by the names “dourucoulis,” “three-striped monkey,” and “Northern owl monkey”.
They live in social groups with a mated pair and their offspring. A bit like our human family groups.
Northern Night Monkeys live high in canopied fruit trees in the Amazon and Venezuela. Their preferred habitats are rainforests, cloud forests, woodlands, and savannas.
They are 24–47 cm (9.5–18.5 inches) in length. Their tails can be as long as their bodies.
15. Nocardia Bacteria
Nocardia bacteria are found in soil around the world. They can cause a lung, skin, or brain infection called nocardiosis. Inhaling dust from infected soil or letting soil get into an open wound both result in this disease.
Nocardia has a branching form composed of many filaments.
They are very small, but they can cause a lot of trouble. You can only see Nocardia bacteria with a powerful microscope.
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Animals That Start With N FAQs
What’s the smallest animal beginning with N?
The smallest animal beginning with N is a bacteria, Nocardia. It is too small to be seen with the naked eye. You need a microscope. It can cause a lot of trouble, though, with a disease called nocardiosis.
Is bacteria an animal?
Bacteria are technically neither animals nor plants. They are alive, but they lack the nucleus that’s present in an animal or plant cell. Bacteria are known as prokaryotes because of this. However, as they are living creatures, I have allowed them to be on this list.
What’s the largest animal beginning with N?
The Nile crocodile is the largest living animal that starts with N. It can reach up to 20 feet (6 meters) long. The Nile crocodile is the second-largest crocodile in the world after the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). The narwhal whale reaches only 17 feet (5.18 meters).
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