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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.