What Color Are Alligators Eyes?

Like humans, alligators have different eye colors. Some of them are green, yellow, orange, and brown. The thing is that gators have many variations, and yet most of them look yellow to the naked human eye.

What makes alligator eyes scary is that these eyes glow red at night when light shines on them. The red glow is what many alligator hunters look for at night.

What Color Are Alligators Eyes

What color are alligators’ eyes in the dark?

The color of alligators’ eyes at night is red. However, the red eyeshine only happens when light hits the eyes.

Not all crocodilians have red eyeshine. The color varies from one species to another. At night, alligator hunters use the red eye glow not only to detect if there is a gator, but also to determine how big it is.

As alligators grow in size, so does the thegap between the eyes. What this means is that the wider the gap, the bigger the reptile is.

Hunters cannot see the alligator at night. They look for the distance between the alligator’s two glowing red eyes. A big gap between the glow means that the alligator is huge, and they will come after it.

At night, lighting a flashlight in alligator territory can be scary. Many pairs of eyes glow, and yet a person cannot see the bodies of the alligators.

Related Article: Where Do Alligators and Crocodiles Go at Night?

Are alligator eyes yellow?

Yes and no. Alligators mostly have a green iris and a reddish pupil. In the morning, the alligators’ eyes may look yellow.

The truth is that crocodiles have more pronounced yellow eyes than alligators. However, it is not unusual to see alligators with yellow eyes.

Upon close-up, some alligator farmers or zoos show the eyes of a baby gator. These eyes seem yellow at first sight, but closer inspection will show anyone that they are a mix of several hues.

Like humans, the eye color can be confusing. For example, there is really no blue eyes for humans. Yet, the eyes look blue because of how light reflects on the eyes.

Related Article: Do Alligators Have Webbed Feet?

What kind of eyes do alligators have?

The kind of eyes that alligators have are powerful ones. Alligators have large eyes with vertical-slit pupils, like cats and other species of snakes.

Alligators evolved eyes like this to help them see better in the dark. The pupils become narrow under bright light, and they widen at night, absorbing more light that help them see in the dark.

At the back of an alligator’s eyes are a reflective layer called tapetum lucidum. This layer is one that humans do not have. It is located just behind the retina, and its function is to reflect light outward, which allows the animal to process light better even in darkness.

Alligator Eye Facts

Below are some facts about alligators’ eyes and what they can do.

Alligators can see well at night

Alligators have night vision. During the day, their pupils get narrow, so narrow that it looks like a slit. At night, the pupil widens to absorb more light.

There is no in-depth study about how alligators do this. However, there is one study that scientists did on a crocodile. Crocs have cat-like eyes that allow them to see in color, even at night.

Doctors removed a crocodile’s eyes and found out that hidden behind the retina is a reflective layer ofmirrored crystals.

During the day, the crystals have a pigment that acts like sunglasses. At night, the pigment retracts and the plate of the pigment reflects light back to the retina.

As this reflection happens, it amplifies the clarity of the image, making the crocodile see well in the dark. There is no clarity if this also happensto gators, but since these two are crocodilians, then it is likely possible.

Alligators have tapetum lucidum

The tapetum lucidum is one type of tissue located just behind the retina of many vertebrates. It is what allows these animals to see better at night. Without this, alligators will b as “blind” as humans.

In alligators, the tapetum lucidum acts as a retroreflector. It gathers light and reflects that back directly to the path of the light. What happens is that the eyes can maintain sharpness and contrast.

Alligators can see underwater

Well, humans can also see underwater, but the human will soon close his eyes. Alligators see clearly underwater for a long time.

Alligators have a nictating membrane to protect their eyes. These are like goggles. Many people call the nictating membrane a “third eyelid.”

When an alligator goes underwater, this nictating membrane goes down to cover the eyes. It is this third eyelid, which is transparent, that prevents water from entering the eyes.

Because of this protection, the alligator can see underwater, much like a human can see clearer and longer if he is wearing goggles.

The nictating membrane is what allows crocodilians to see things underwater, even if the water is murky. Of course, visibility is also subject to the water’s clarity.

Despite the water’s murkiness, alligators have a special sense to make up for the bad vision. They have sensitive skin, and they can determine the source of even one drop of water. 

Alligators have a wide perception

Because of the position of the alligator’s eyes, it can see the entire horizon. What it means is that it can see a panoramic view of what is in front of it.

Because of this, the alligator can easily spot prey. All it has to do is keep looking and then track movements from its vision. From here, the gator can decide which prey to go after.

This vision is what helps alligators see what animals are on the riverbank. Out of all the prey out there, the alligator eventually decides who to capture.


The color of an alligator’s eyes varies from one individual to another. The hues are green, yellow, and orange, and the most common is brown. During the day, the eyes of an alligator may look yellow. However, upon closer inspection, these eyes possess different colors. At night, alligators’ eyes are red, but only one shines a light on them.

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