Let’s switch off light pollution for mammals!

Most Australian mammals are nocturnal. Artificial light at night can cause them harm.

Play your part to help our mammals by reducing light pollution.


DESCRIPTION: An animated video. At night, a colony of four bats flies past a darkened house, surrounded by greenery. A bilby walks amongst bushes. A possum descends a tree.

SPEAKER: Most Australian mammals are nocturnal.

DESCRIPTION: A floodlight attached to the house turns on, and shines over the yard. The possum falls out of the tree into a bush. The bilby freezes, then scurries away.

SPEAKER: Artificial light at night can cause them harm.

DESCRIPTION: The possum emerges from the bush, sniffs, then retreats. Elsewhere, a possum emerges at the opening of a tree hollow. The possum halts as an owl lands beside it. Two kangaroos meet in a clearing amongst tall grass. As they kiss, a spotlight catches them. They both look at the light, before one of the kangaroos hops away. The remaining kangaroo slumps and bows it head.

SPEAKER: It can make them spend less time looking for food, make them more vulnerable to predators and confuse their reproductive cycles.

DESCRIPTION: A bilby emerges from behind a bush. The indoor and exterior lights of a nearby two-storey house illuminate the area. The bilby stays low, and retreats behind the bush.

SPEAKER: Help Australia’s mammals by avoiding illuminating the area’s they rest, forage in, or travel through.

DESCRIPTION: A man and a woman stand on the upstairs balcony of the house. Moths flutter in the beams of four exterior lights. All the lights turn off, except for one, which lowers in intensity. Many of the moths fly away, except for one, which stays under the now-lowered light.

SPEAKER: Illuminate only what you really need and keep light intensity low.

DESCRIPTION: The colour of the light changes to amber, and the final moth flies away. 

SPEAKER: Choose amber to red-coloured lights which don’t disturb them as much.

DESCRIPTION: The bilby emerges from the bush and approaches a butterfly, resting on a nearby leaf.

SPEAKER: Play your part to help our mammals by reducing your light pollution.

DESCRIPTION: A URL on screen:  awe.gov.au/light-pollution

SPEAKER: Consult the National Light Pollution Guidelines for Wildlife to find out more about how you can help.

DESCRIPTION: Text on screen reads: Let’s switch off light pollution together. The Commonwealth Coat of Arms Appears above the text: Australian Government - Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

SPEAKER: Let’s switch off light pollution together.


Native Australian mammals need dark spaces

Native mammals rely on darkness to travel, feed and avoid predators

  • Native mammals are most active in low light conditions (night, dusk, dawn).
  • Mammals use dark corridors to travel between habitat patches, and dark spaces (refuges) to hide from predators.
  • Artificial light reduces feeding opportunities, limits travel between habitat patches and exposes native mammals to predators.
  • Artificial light masks day length and other natural light signals used by mammals to regulate daily activity and annual reproduction.
  • Sudden changes in light levels will disorient and temporarily blind native mammals.
Illustration of a mammal walking at night past a house with no lights on
illustration of mammals frozen in a spotlight

Which lights are most harmful?

  • Nocturnal mammals’ eyes are adapted to dim light. Bright artificial light is temporarily blinding.
  • Mammals’ night-time vision is particularly sensitive to blue, green, UV and broad-spectrum white lighting.
  • Amber and red lights are less likely to affect native mammals’ night vision.
  • High-intensity, elevated and upward-facing lights will spread furthest into nearby habitat. This will disorient or exclude native mammals.

Naturally dark habitats are essential to the conservation of vulnerable native mammals.

Over 100 species of terrestrial (land) mammals are listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. All except numbats are most active at night, or around dawn and dusk. Mammals occupy a huge range of habitats across Australia including rainforest, woodlands, deserts, alpine areas, riverbanks and urban parks. Many use seasonal changes in daylight to synchronize births with favourable environmental conditions.

How you can help

  • Don’t light up habitat patches, dark refuge sites and connecting corridors.
  • Preserve canopy and understorey vegetation to provide dark refuges and corridors for mammals.
  • Direct outdoor lighting downwards and use shielding to reduce light spill into nearby habitat.
  • Drive slowly at night – native mammals are blinded and disoriented by streetlights and headlights.
  • Use timers, sensors and dimmers to keep light use to a minimum in areas near habitat.