Animals of the night

The grand temple of concord and victory stands out on a moon lit night surrounded by trees

As night falls across the gardens, we might pack up our stuff and head home but a whole other world is just waking up

The gardens teem with wildlife throughout the day with birds, fishes and mammals going through their daily routines. That doesn't stop at night. A whole new group of nocturnal animals venture through the gardens. Here are a few that call Stowe home:

Keep your eyes out

Look closely enough as night starts to draw in and you'll spot some of the animals begining their day. Some creatures are easier to spot than others but with their perfectly evolved senses, they go about their routine with ease.

A glow worm is lit by torchlight as it hides within thick green grass

Glow Worms

Hidden in the lawns of the Grecian Valley, glow-worms light up as they attempt to attract each other. Despite the name, glow worms are actually beetles with a bioluminescent section on their back. The females glow brighter than the males. They are great for pest control within the gardens as they eat slugs and snails.

A winged bat flies through the dark night sky


Bats make use of the bugs attracted by the lakes in the gardens. They fly wildly around the gardens, skimming over the lakes as they catch their pray. Echolocation makes up for their lack of eye sight. We set up bat boxes to encourage them to the gardens and help to protect them.

Hedgehog at Emmetts Garden, a National Trust property in Kent


With the number of hedgerows within the gardens and surrounding parkland, Stowe is a popular place for hedgehogs. The hibernate over winter but over the warmer months, they venture out to eat worms and other bugs. They generally avoid humans and will role into a ball if scared. It's important that we check any piles of leaves before moving them incase a hedgehog has hibernated underneath.

The harder to spot

For these animals, being nocturnal has its advantages. The dead of night gives these perfectly adapted creatures the ability to live and hunt virtually undetected. They are notoriously shy and hard to spot after avoiding human contact for centuries. Here's some of the animals which tend to be harder to track down

badger, sunlight


Badgers are an important part of the ecosystem. We have several Badger setts at Stowe, the ha-ha and large trees making a particularly good locations. The setts are created with designated chambers for specific purposes.

White National Trust logo on a black background. Text says Wildlife at Stowe Polecat first sighting


The polecat feeds on small rodents, reptiles and birds. They cripple their prey store it alive for consumption at a later date

Red fox, ears pricked


Whilst they sometimes venture out during the day, foxes are nocturnal. They generally eat fruit, vegetables, small mammals and fish. They use their tails like a scarf for warmth in winter and will walk alongside hedges to camouflage their outline

Wildlife surveyors secret weapons

Technology has been our friend when monitoring and discovering the nighttime goings-on in the gardens. Remote camera traps automatically start recording when they sense movement. This allows us to see what's going on in key areas of the gardens without disturbing or scaring the animals as they go about their business. Over the last few months, we've caught our first sighting of a polecat and more. Scroll through the videos below to see more

Stowe's night time discoveries


By monitoring these animals, we can help protect them and provide them with habitats and landscapes that let them thrive. In new projects such as the New Inn car parks we've created dedicated areas for badger sets and conservation of the ha-ha has taken into consideration the local animal communities. 

For ever, for everyone

It's easy to join in with the conservation effort at Stowe. Supporting the trust helps to protect the landscapes these animals call home. You can even take it to the next level and volunteer with us. We have various roles from wildlife surveyors through to joining the ranger team or even drop by our Sunday gardening group. It's a fun and flexible way to get involved!