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25 Examples of Animals that Can See in the Dark (A to Z List with Pictures)

Spotted Owl

Examples of animals that can see in the dark include owls, cats, alligators, snakes, and monkeys.

Not all animals can see in the dark. But some, like bats and cats, have adapted to living in conditions with little or no light.

And there are even a few that use their ability to see in the dark as an advantage for hunting.

These animals need a special type of eye, called a tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back through their retina and gives them night vision.

Examples of Animals that Can See in the Dark

1. Alligators

alligator
Scientific NameAlligator
Type of AnimalReptile
Rangethe United States from North Carolina to the Rio Grande in Texas
DietCarnivore

Alligators do not have any special adaptations that allow them to see in the dark. Their eyesight is about as good during the day or at night, which means they can see small objects but cannot make out details very well.

Alligator vision also doesn’t let them perceive color – it appears grayish-green because their green and blue cones are not as sensitive as humans’.

This is why they rely heavily on their sense of smell to find prey at night.

2. Andean Night Monkey

Scientific NameAotus miconax
Type of AnimalMammal
RangePeru
DietOmnivore

Andean Night Monkeys live in the Ecuadorian forests and can see just as well at night or during the daytime.

They rely on their sense of smell to help them navigate through trees, but they also use their vision very effectively. Their eyes are almost twice as big compared with other nocturnal mammals’ and even contain a reflective layer behind the retina to help them see better in the dark.

This reflective layer, called tapetum lucidum, is a feature seen also in cats and other animals that can see at night.

3. Aye-Aye

Aye Aye
Scientific NameDaubentonia madagascariensis
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeMadagascar
DietOmnivore

Aye-Ayes are nocturnal animals, meaning they are active at night. Their eyes are specially adapted to see in the dark and their ears help them hear prey moving around in the forest.

Aye-Ayes use their long fingers to grab onto insects or other small prey items.

4. Barreleye Fish

Scientific NameOpisthoproctidae
Type of AnimalFish
RangePacific Ocean
DietCarnivore

One of the most interesting animals that can see in the dark is the Barreleye Fish. This fish has a unique head shape that allows it to look up and see through the water column to find prey.

Its eyes are also barrel-shaped, which helps increase its light sensitivity. The Barreleye Fish typically hunts at night, when it can use its excellent vision to find prey that is hidden in the darkness.

5. Bats

bat
Scientific NameChiroptera
Type of AnimalMammals
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Although bats can’t see very good they use echolocation to find their way around in the dark. They produce a high-pitched sound and listen for the echo from nearby objects.

Bats depend on this ability to navigate through dark environments, even when it is completely dark outside

6. Black-Footed Ferret

A ferret in its nest
Scientific NameMustela nigripes
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America
DietCarnivore

The black-footed ferret is the only species of ferret that can see in the dark. They have large, elliptical pupils that dilate in low light conditions to let in more light.

Their eyes also contain a high concentration of rods, which are responsible for seeing in low light conditions. Ferrets rely on their keen sense of smell and hearing to find their prey.

7. Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish
Scientific NameSepiida
Type of AnimalFish
RangeTropical seas
DietCarnivore

The cuttlefish is a marine cephalopod of the order Sepiida. They are characterized by their eyes, which can change color and pattern in response to various stimuli.

Cuttlefish have unique skin cells called chromatophores that allow them to control how they look to other animals. This helps them hide from predators and prey.

Cuttlefish are able to see in the dark due to their binocular field of vision. This is a layer of cells that reflect light back through the retina, which increases the amount of light that gets absorbed.

This allows cuttlefish to see in low-light conditions.

8. Dung Beetle

Dung Beetle
Scientific NameScarabaeidae
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

Dung beetles can see well during the night, but they are unable to distinguish as many features at a greater distance.

9. Elephantnose Fish

Scientific NameGnathonemus petersii
Type of AnimalFish
RangeRivers of West and Central Africa
DietCarnivore

Elephantnose Fish have a series of adaptations that allow them to see in the dark. Their eyes are very large and they have a reflective layer behind the retina that helps amplify light.

They also have some pigment in their retinas that allows them to see more color in low-light conditions.

Additionally, they have a structure called the “cupula” in their inner ear that helps them sense movement even when there is little light.

This allows them to hunt for food at night and avoid predators.

10. Fennec Fox

Fennec Fox
Scientific NameVulpes zerda
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeSahara Desert
DietOmnivore

Fennec foxes have very large ears which are full of blood vessels. These help to keep the fox cool in the desert heat, but they also play a role in their vision.

The Fox’s oversized ears act like satellite dishes, collecting and amplifying sound waves. This helps them to better hear prey moving at night.

Fennec foxes also have a high density of cells in the tapetum lucidum at the back of their eyes. These act like mirrors, reflecting light and helping to improve night vision.

11. Fur Seal

Fur Seal
Scientific NameArctocephalinae
Type of AnimalMammal
RangePacific and Southern Oceans
DietOmnivore

Fur seals are one of the few animals that can see in the dark. They also have a membrane called the tapetum lucidum which reflects light back to their retina, allowing them to see in low-light conditions.

12. Frogs

European Tree Frog
Scientific NameAnura
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Most frogs have very good night vision. They are able to see in the dark because they have a membrane called the tapetum lucidum that reflects light back through their eyes, allowing them to see even in low-light conditions.

This is also why their eyes often look green or yellow when you see them in the daylight. Some frogs have a second membrane that reflects light back twice, giving them even better night vision.

13. Geckos

a gecko
Scientific NameGekkonidae
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Geckos’ night vision comes from their sensitivity to color, which is 350 times more sensitive than humans. Geckos can see in complete darkness because they have a layer of cells in their eyes called the tapetum lucidum.

This layer reflects light that passes through the retina back to the rods and cones, which increases the amount of light that reaches these cells by up to 100 times.

Additionally, geckos’ pupils are vertical slits, which allows more light to enter the eye. This combination of features gives geckos an incredibly clear image in low-light conditions.

14. Glacier Lanternfish

Scientific NameBenthosema glaciale
Type of AnimalFish
RangeNorth Atlantic
DietCarnivore

Glacier Lanternfish and other deep-sea fish species have evolved to find food in complete darkness. They use bioluminescence which is basically a chemical reaction that creates light.

15. Horses

horse eating grass
Scientific NameEquus caballus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

Horses have a membrane called the nictitating membrane that helps keep their eyes clean and moist.

This membrane also helps to protect their eyes from dust, dirt, and other particles in the air. Horses can see as well at night as they can during the day due to the tapetum lucidum in their eyes.

16. House Cat

cat
Scientific NameFelis catus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

House cats are able to see in low light conditions because they have a high level of rod cells in their eyes. These cells detect light and dark, allowing the animal to see in dimly lit areas.

The eyes of a house cat also contain a tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back onto the retina. This enables them to use what little available light there is much more efficiently than humans can.

This means that these animals do not necessarily need a lot of light to see what is going on around them.

17. Nightjar

Nightjar
Scientific NameCaprimulgidae
Type of AnimalBird
Rangethe Nechisar plains of Ethiopia
DietCarnivore

The eyes of nightjar are specially adapted to seeing in the dark. They have very large pupils that can dilate to let in more light, and they also have a special layer of cells in their eyes called the tapetum lucidum that helps them see better in low light.

18. Owl

Eurasian Eagle-Owl
Scientific NameStrigiformes
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Owls use their tapetum lucidums to see in the dark, but they also have them under a layer of translucent tissue called the uvea.

This allows owls to protect their retina from direct exposure to light and helps them maintain vision during not only nighttime hours, but daytime as well.

19. Pangolin

Scientific NamePholidota
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAsia
DietCarnivore

Pangolins have poor eyesight but a great sense of smell. Stinky secretions from a unique gland as well as conventional signifying techniques of excreting feces and urine are used by pangolins to mark their territories.

It’s been estimated that one pangolin may devour over 70 million insects every year.

20. Pit Viper

horn viper
Scientific NameCrotalinae
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeDeserts to rainforests
DietCarnivore

Pit Viper uses infrared heat vision similar to how humans use visible light. They have special pits on their head which detects the heat of another creature and use it as a way to guide them through very dark places.

21. Raccoon

raccoon
Scientific NameProcyon lotor
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America
DietOmnivore

Raccoons don’t have very good eyesight which is why they prefer to stay in places with close quarters.

Their eyes are specially adapted to see in the dark. They have a thin layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum that reflects light back into their eyes, allowing them to see in the dark.

22. Reindeer

reindeer
Scientific NameRangifer tarandus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe Arctic tundra and adjacent boreal forests
DietHerbivore

Reindeer have developed a second form of vision as a result of all the time they spend in snow.

When the sun shines, it reflects harshly off the snow. The intense light has caused reindeer to evolve and develop a sight that penetrates through the blinding glare.

Reindeer have eyes that are sensitive to ultraviolet light. They can see into the infrared region of the spectrum.

23. Sharks

Tiger Shark
Scientific NameSelachimorpha
Type of AnimalFish
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Sharks like all the other animals on our list have a special layer of cells in their eyes called the tapetum lucidum.

This is a mirrored lining at the back of the eye that reflects light, giving the pupil a noticeable glow during dark conditions.

24. Snow Leopard

snow leopard
Scientific NamePanthera uncia
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAsia
DietCarnivore

Snow leopards have the ability to see in the dark because of their unique eyesight. They can easily identify prey, even though it is very difficult for humans.

Snow leopard’s eyes are adapted for seeing at night time with an extra membrane that reflects light back through their retina, which makes it possible for them to see very well in the dark.

Snow leopards do not have the best night vision compared to other big cats, such as lions and tigers.

Instead, they rely on their acute senses of hearing and smell to find prey under the cover of darkness.

25. Tarsiers

Tarsier
Scientific NameTarsiidae
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe southern Philippines
DietCarnivore

One of the most interesting facts about tarsiers is that they have the ability to see in the dark.

This is due to their exceptional night vision, which is attributed to two adaptations: large eyes and a tubular-shaped pupil.

The large eyes are necessary for the tarsier’s nocturnal habit, and the tubular pupil shapes more light into a concentrated beam that enters their retina, which is located at the rear of the eye.

The pupil may be shaped like a tube because it has an iris that opens vertically instead of horizontally as in humans.

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