I’m always fascinated by the different ways animals have evolved to adapt to their habitats or simply for aesthetic reasons. One differentiating feature is eye color. Unlike what we see amongst humans, some animals can have red eyes. Some animals with red eyes have them for defensive reasons, while others develop red eyes due to genetic mutations. In fact, some species are even bred to have red eyes and other colorings on their bodies.
It’s common to hear about animals with eyes that glow red at night, such as rabbits and alligators. This makes them easier to recognize based on their eye-shine alone, even if their actual eye pupils aren’t red. However, some animals simply have red eyes regardless of the time of day.
This article lists 13 animals with red eyes (not red eye-shine), including information on where you can find them and some interesting facts about their behaviors.
Let’s learn more!
13 animals with red eyes
Here is a list of 13 animals with red eyes from around the world. Learn more about who they are and where you can find them.
1. Red-eyed tree frog
Scientific name: Agalychnis callidryas
The red-eyed tree frog has such large, noticeable red eyes that it became part of their name. These colorful frogs are neon green, orange, blue, yellow, and white. Scientists believe they use their bright colors to startle predators. When threatened, these frogs will flash their eyes and reveal their webbed orange feet.
Although not venomous, the colors make them appear they might be and can overstimulate a predator’s eyes in the night. These frogs grow around 1.5 to 2.75 inches in size and typically live 5 years in the wild. They are native to the rainforests of southern Mexico and Central and South America.
2. Black-necked grebes
Scientific name: Podiceps nigricollis
Black-necked grebes are dark blackish or grayish birds with bright red eyes that have an orange-yellow ring. During the summer breeding months, their eyes stand out even more when they grow gold feathers around the eyes to attract mates.
These birds live in freshwater lakes throughout South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the western and southwestern U.S. They typically grow between 11 and 13 inches long, with wingspans ranging from 20.5 to 21.6 inches.
3. Peacock mantis shrimp
Scientific name: Odontodactylus scyllarus
While not vibrantly red like some animals on this list, the peacock mantis shrimp’s eyes are a dull red or translucent with a reddish tint and have other fascinating qualities. They have black bands running vertically down their eyes that show where they are looking and these animals can rotate their eyes to see in two different directions at once.
They can also see more colors than humans can with their three types of light-detecting cells. You can find these colorful crustaceans in the Indo-Pacific coral reefs, where their red, blue, green bodies blend in with their habitat.
4. Red-eyed vireo
Scientific name: Vireo olivaceus
Red-eyed vireos are stocky olive-green birds with white bellies. The adults have red eyes that can sometimes appear dark from a distance. Although only 4.7 to 5.1 inches long with wingspans of 9.1 to 9.8 inches, these birds are large and chunky compared to other vireo species.
You can find them in forests and wooded areas throughout Canada, as well as the eastern and northwestern U.S. They prefer trees with large leaves, such as maples, and males are known to be constant singers. There are recordings of them singing over 10,000 songs a day in spring!
5. Eastern box turtle
Scientific name: Terrapene carolina carolina
The male eastern box turtle typically has red eyes. However, females will have yellowish-brown eyes. They have hooked upper jaws, slightly webbed toes, and their skin and shell are dark with yellow markings. These turtles can uniquely eat poisonous mushrooms. So, besides being able to retreat in their shell for protection, their flesh is also poisonous to predators.
Eastern box turtles are small, growing around 6 inches long and weighing less than 1 pound. They have the widest range of any box turtle in the U.S., living from Georgia to Massachusetts and west to Illinois. You can commonly find them in the Chesapeake Bay watershed or woodland habitats.
6. Ring-tailed lemur
Scientific name: Lemur catta
Ring-tailed lemurs are notable for their black and white striped tails on their grey to reddish-brown bodies with white bellies and faces. They also have yellow to orange-red eyes with prominent black borders.
You can only find these animals in the southern regions of Madagascar, where they live in various habitats, including forests, scrubland, and rocky mountains. They spend most of their time sunbathing by sitting upright with legs and arms outstretched or searching for food, including insects, fruits, and leaves.
7. Stejneger’s pit viper
Scientific name: Trimeresurus stejnegeri
The Stejneger’s pit viper is also known as the Chinese tree viper or green bamboo viper. As their name suggests, these snakes are venomous tree-dwelling pit vipers from Asia. You can find them in various countries, including China, Thailand, India, and Nepal.
They can grow up to 30 inches long and are dark to bright green, with bright red eyes. You definitely don’t want to be bitten by one since their venom causes extreme pain like being branded by a hot iron. It also leads to swelling and turns your skin and muscles black at the bite area.
8. Red-tailed flesh fly
Scientific name: Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis
Red-tailed flesh flies range from 0.16 to 0.9 inches and have black and grey stripes on their bodies, red rear ends, and large oval-shaped red eyes. You can find these flies throughout most areas around the world, especially in warm tropical areas. In the U.S. they live year-round in the southern states and are commonly associated with dead animal and human remains.
These flies are different to common flies since they will deposit live larvae instead of eggs. They can cause stomach diseases if you accidentally eat their larvae that are on fruits and cause blood poisoning in animals, such as sheep.
9. Satanic leaf-tailed gecko
Scientific name: Uroplatus phantasticus
The satanic leaf-tailed geckos get their name from their red eyes and tiny horns on top of their eyes. These lizards are great at camouflaging in piles of decaying leaves with their leaf-like tails and various body colors, including orange, yellow, tan, and mottled brown.
You can only find these geckos in the Ranomafana rain forest in Madagascar. They are great at avoiding predators, including shedding their tails, flattening their bodies against surfaces, and showing their bright red mouths.
10. Red-eye tetras
Scientific name: Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae
The redeye tetra is a freshwater fish with a signature red eye standing out against their metallic body. They are sometimes called yellow-banded moenkhausia and lamp eye tetra. Their eyes help them find each other in murky waters since the red shines brightly.
These 2.75-inch fish are native to countries such as Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. With the water conditions often changing in these habitats, these fish can tolerate a range of temperature changes and are popular, easy-to-care pets.
11. Indian golden oriole
Scientific name: Oriolus kundoo
Indian golden orioles are yellow birds with black wing and tail feathers and a black stripe extending behind their red eyes. The coloring of their eyes helps indicate how healthy they are and can deter predators.
These birds are native to Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. They are important for spreading seeds throughout their habitat and can fly at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. They grow around 9.4 to 9.8 inches long.
12. Albino European hedgehog
Scientific name: Erinaceus europaeus
While European hedgehogs have dark eyes, there are albinos in this species that have red eyes. In fact, almost all albino animals have red eyes. Albinos are animals that have mutated to have no color pigment and are completely white. The red color in their eyes comes from blood and makes them quite stunning-looking compared to their body.
European hedgehogs are native to Italy, Iberia, the British Isles, and Scandinavia. While hedgehogs are popular pets, this species is protected and typically not sold in pet stores.
13. Albino corn snake
Scientific name: Pantherophis guttatus guttatus
Some albino species develop naturally, while other animals are bred by humans to become different morphs as pets. The albino corn snake is one of them. However, these snakes are not all white but will have a combination of white, pale red, and pale orange coloring instead of the traditional black patterns on wild corn snakes.
Albino corn snakes grow between 3 to 5 feet long and are popular pets due to their generally docile nature. They are non-venomous, even though wild corn snakes sometimes are mistaken for copperheads.