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20 Animals With Glowing Eyes at Night (Pictures)

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Have you ever spotted glowing eyes while looking into the forest at night? There are thousands of species of animals worldwide that have eyes that reflect light at night. Depending on the color, it’s easy to identify what animal’s eyes you are gazing at. This phenomenon, called ‘eyeshine,’ is unique in the animal kingdom, as humans don’t have it.

20 Animals with Glowing Eyes at Night

This article will inform you about 20 of the most common animals you’re likely to see. Keep reading to learn about their habitat, eye color, and where you can find them.

1. Dogs

A dog resting on hardwood floor
Dog sitting on wood | image by llee_wu via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

If you have a dog, you have probably already seen that its eyes glow in the dark. Dogs have a tapetum lucidum, which is a reflective layer behind the retina. It allows them to see more shapes in the darkness.

The color of the eyeshine may change depending on what breed the dog is. It ranges from red to green.

2. Cats

Domestic Cat sits on a couch
Domestic Cat sits on a couch | image by James St. John via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Cats have some of the brightest eyeshine in the animal kingdom. It ranges from yellow to green to red. The tapetum lucidum helps reflect more light into the retina, improving their vision so they can hunt better at night.

3. Raccoons

Raccoons in swamp
Raccoons in swamp | image by pedrik via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The glowing eyes of raccoons, often called ‘trash pandas’ in popular culture, is often spotted when the scavenger pops its head out of a garbage can. Raccoons like to search for food under cover of darkness when there are fewer predators and they can better blend into shadows.

4. Mountain Lions

Mountain Lion
Mountain Lion | Image by 3031830 from Pixabay

Cougars, aka mountain lions, are efficient and deadly hunters. They are skilled stalkers, using their augmented night vision to sneak up behind prey.

Mountain lions also have the tapetum lucidum. If you’re close enough to see ones’ eyes, get to safety as fast as you can!

5. Lynx

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Lynx are medium-sized cats native to Asia, Europe, and North America, where they’re known as bobcats. Nocturnal hunters, lynx have eyes that grow brightly in the dark. In ancient times, this cat was named  based on its eyes – the word “lynx” originates from the Indo-European root “leuk,” meaning “light.”

6. Wolves

Wolves
Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

Like their domesticated descendant, the dog, wolves have reflective eyes that shine in the darkness. At night, it’s possible to identify where wolves are located by watching for the characteristic yellow orbs amid trees, rocks, and bushes.

7. Opossums

Opossum on tree branch
Opossum on tree branch | image by ramendan via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Unlike most of the other animals with glowing eyes, Opossums have eyes that glow white or pink when light hits them. Opossums are primarily nocturnal; as a result, their eyes are poorly-adjusted to bright light and are extremely sensitive. At night, they can see extremely well within a range of less than a foot.

8. White-tailed Deer

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White-tailed deer live in habitats throughout most of North America. Commonly hunted for their meat and antlers, they are a familiar sight grazing in fields and along roadsides at dawn and dusk. While White-tailed deer are not nocturnal, they have the tapetum lucidum to assist in finding plants to eat in low light conditions.

9. Foxes

The Red Fox, the most common fox native to North America, Europe, and Asia, is a member of the canine family. This mid-level carnivore scouts for food during the morning and evening in order to avoid predators. It will also hunt at night. Their eyes glow green or yellow at night.

You may also like:  Are There Animals That Eat Eagles?

10. Cattle

Cattle are able to see at night thanks to the tapetum lucidum in their eyes. They reflect moon and starlight so that they can see to find new pastures to graze in. When looking for cattle with a searchlight, you’ll probably see groups of eyes since the animals are so gregarious.

11. Horses

Horses, like cattle, are prey animals, and have many adaptations to stay aware of environmental conditions. They have a tapetum lucidum that improves their vision at night. Being able to see more defined shapes may mean the difference between evading a predator or being caught.

12. Ferrets

Ferret on a woodcraft
Ferret on a woodcraft | image by zoofanatic via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Ferrets are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk, so having reflective cells in their eyes is a major benefit when they are hunting, defending territory, or exploring. These small carnivores have a taptetum lucidum which shows up at night as well as in flash photography.

13. Owls

Barn owl
Barn owl | Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

Owls have an extremely powerful sense of sight. Since they hunt at night, they evolved to develop a tapetum lucidum, like other nocturnal animals. This reflects light that has entered the eye again, so that as much information as possible can be gleaned from the image. It helps owls spot mice, birds, and bats in dark and shaded environments

14. Rabbits

Resting rabbit in a grassy field
Resting rabbit in a grassy field | Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Rabbits are always on high alert for predators, which the tapetum lucidum helps them avoid. Rabbits are one wild animal on this list you might see at night.

At dusk, slowly peer around your backyard with a flashlight. Look for two glowing orbs close to the ground.

15. Alligators

Adult Alligator with U- shaped snout and overbite teeth
Adult Alligator with U- shaped snout and overbite teeth | Image by Pfüderi from Pixabay

Alligators are primarily-nocturnal reptiles which possess a tapetum lucidum. Since they sleep for most of the day, they need to have the best-possible eyesight at night. The tapetum lucidum helps them see when they peek their heads from the water to spot prey, mates, or threats.

16. Bengal Tigers

Bengal tiger
Bengal tiger

In the jungles of India and southern Asia, Bengal tigers patrol their territory and hunt for prey. These nocturnal cats are unique because they are the largest extant species of cat as well as one of the only water-loving cats.

17. Frogs

Frog
Frog | image by Dim Dim via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Most frogs are nocturnal, so they have adapted to low light conditions by having eyes that reflect as much light as possible. The more light that reaches their brains, the better they see. Under cover of darkness, they hide among leaves, lily pads, and damp foliage.

18. Bats

Bats
Bat dangling from the leaves | Image by Marcel Langthim from Pixabay

Bats’ eyes are difficult to see – they fly extremely fast – but if you can, you’ll notice that they glow in the light from a searchlight. Bats rarely use their eyes to spot prey since their echolocation abilities are so advanced, but they still augment that skill with slightly better sight.

19. Coyotes

Coyotes 
Coyote | Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Coyotes are similar to racoons in that they scavenge throughout their territory, especially at night. Smaller than wolves but larger than dogs, these meso-predators prey on cats and, raccoons, and large rodents.

20. Bears

Brown Bears
Brown Bears

Bears are predators that live in forested regions of North America and parts of Asia and Europe. These carnivores are primarily crepuscular, so they use their night vision to augment their extremely strong sense of smell.

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About Anna Lad

Anna is a wildlife biologist who graduated from Texas A&M in 2020. She enjoys studying and learning about wild birds and wildlife of all types.