This planet is packed to the brim with animals that can do incredible things.
There are even animals that can see in the dark.
Both predator and prey are capable of seeing in the dark, each using the talent in their own unique ways.
25 Animals That Can See In The Dark
Most of the animals that are capable of seeing in the dark are nocturnal or crepuscular.
While nocturnal animals are active at night, crepuscular animals are most active at dusk and dawn.
Some examples of crepuscular animals are foxes, porcupines, and chinchillas.
Animals that are active during the day are diurnal.
1. House Cat
Families with cats know that these animals don’t care what time of day it is when they need to get out some of their energy.
Cats can see especially well in the dark thanks to all of the additional rods they have in their eyes.
For each cone in a human’s eye, we will have four rods.
For each cone in a cat’s eye, there are 25 rods!
However, cats have fewer cones in their eyes, which limits the amount of color they can see.
They only need an eighth of the light that humans need to see.
Have you ever wondered why your cat’s eyes glow when you flash your phone’s light at them?
This is because of their tapetum lucidum.
Any amount of light will be enough for the tapetum lucidum to bounce around the eyeball, causing the cat to need less light in order to see.
The cuttlefish is an interesting fish that is capable of using camouflage like chameleons.
The cuttlefish is just as good at hunting during the day as it is at night.
This is thanks to their anterior binocular field of vision, which means their eyes are near the front of their head and they are able to see with depth.
Scientists have found that while cuttlefish are able to hunt equally well at night or day, the cuttlefish was not able to hunt as well in complete darkness.
There is a large difference between being able to see in the dark and seeing in complete darkness.
There aren’t many situations where animals would find themselves in complete darkness.
3. Pit Viper
Pit Vipers are excellent nighttime hunters thanks to their special way of seeing in the dark.
These snakes are capable of sensing infrared waves with the heat-sensing organ that is inside the pit that gives the vipers their names.
Infrared waves radiate off of the pit viper’s potential prey, feeling like heat.
The vipers slither across the ground, making an infrared map as they move around their hunting grounds.
Scientists have yet to figure out how the snakes’ nervous systems are able to pick up and decipher the infrared waves.
Pit vipers prefer to hunt at night because the cooler temperatures make prey stand out more.
A small rodent trying to scurry away will look like a bright light to the snake chasing it.
4. Snow Leopard
Snow leopards are mysterious wildcats that flee at the thought of a human being nearby.
Snow leopards prefer the quietness that night has to offer.
Their large cat eyes make them excellent hunters at night.
Snow leopards live through some of the coldest winters in the world, living as high as 18,000 feet in the mountains.
Winter means longer nights and less sunlight.
Like their house cat relatives, snow leopards don’t need as much light to see as humans do.
Unlike house cats, snow leopards can’t meow.
Instead, they use a high-pitched yowl to communicate with one another.
Snow leopards also prefer to sleep in different locations, marking their territory beforehand.
Foxes are often mistaken for being nocturnal, but foxes are actually crepuscular hunters.
They are most active at dusk and dawn.
If you’ve ever been driving at dusk or dawn, then you may have seen the green glow of a fox’s eyes on the side of the road.
Foxes have tapetum lucidum, the layer of the eye that is extremely reflective.
Although foxes may have some cat-like qualities, they are actually a member of the dog family, under the same umbrella as coyotes, raccoon dogs, and wolves.
Foxes hunt during the dusk and dawn hours to avoid predators such as wolves and humans.
These skittish creatures are extremely adaptable, making them capable of living in the city and in rural areas.
When you see a pair of reflective, red eyes at night, you may be having a staring contest with a raccoon.
The same layer that turns their eyes red also helps them make out the shapes of nearby objects in low light situations.
However, raccoons are not good at seeing long distances, which is why they prefer to stay in areas with close quarters.
In open spaces, raccoons are prey to owls, bobcats, alligators, wolves, and foxes.
Before a raccoon eats or stores food for later, it washes their food.
Raccoons aren’t concerned about the cleanliness of their food, but rather their ability to grip their food.
Dirt can make it harder for raccoons to hold onto their food, especially while climbing.
7. Andean Night Monkey
Andean night monkeys are small, nocturnal monkeys that have massive eyes.
Unlike most nocturnal animals, Andean night monkeys don’t have a tapetum lucidum.
Instead, they have massive retinas that are 50% larger than those of monkeys that are active during the day.
This endangered species lives in the tropical islands of Madagascar, despite what you may assume by its name.
They sluggishly move across the canopy with their padded yet claw-like paws.
The majority of the Andean night monkey’s diet is made up of fruit, but it will also eat the buds of other plants, leaves, and bugs.
However, only a third of their time is spent on eating at night.
More than half of their nighttime activities consist of traveling to where they can find food and sleep peacefully.
Living up to their name, nightjars are awake when it is dark.
However, they are crepuscular, spending their nights and days sleeping.
They prefer to hunt at dawn and dusk when there are fewer predatory birds out.
Nightjars mostly eat bugs, such as moths and beetles.
Their wood-like coats act as the perfect camouflage when they’re sleeping.
Nightjars also like to hunt for their favorite meals in the glow of streetlights that attract many moths.
Nightjars are able to eat their prey while flying thanks to the way they swallow the small bugs whole.
However, most of the nightjar’s hunting is done by moonlight.
Nightjars have even been observed to align their breeding cycle with the lunar cycle.
9. Glacier Lanternfish
The glacier lantern fish is a deep-sea fish that has gained its night vision through thousands of years of living where the sun’s light can scarcely breakthrough.
These odd-looking fish live and hunt about 1,000 meters deep in the ocean.
The glacier lantern fish has additional pigment proteins that help them distinguish more colors than other sea creatures.
They can see additional shades of blue, green, and yellow that help decipher what they’re seeing in the deep sea.
Their deep-sea predators, such as the goblin shark, can be spotted from a greater distance, helping the lantern fish attempt to escape.
However, the glacier lanternfish are not the fastest fish in the ocean.
Owls are the poster children for nocturnal birds.
Their large eyes with matching large retinas make them capable of seeing long distances in the dark.
Their large eyes track their prey with precision.
Unlike humans, owls’ eyes aren’t ball-shaped.
They are actually shaped more like tubes, which allows them to focus and zoom their vision in on prey.
Some species of owls can see small rodents, their prey, from half a mile away.
It isn’t uncommon for owls to hunt other owls.
They are extremely territorial creatures.
Similar to nightjars, owls will eat their prey whole.
They don’t mind the skin and the bones of small rodents and birds.
11. Dung Beetle
You may not expect a creature that loves to dig through cow dung to have amazing night vision, but dung beetles’ night vision is so good that car companies like Toyota are researching them.
Dung beetles are able to see in full color at night.
They don’t see the fuzziness or black shading that nighttime creates.
This is because their retinas work vastly different from human retinas.
Dung beetles may be able to see clearly at night, but they are not able to make out as many details as they look further out.
12. Barreleye Fish
The barreleye fish is a deep-sea fish that looks out of this world.
It is best known for its appearance in Animal Crossing: New Horizons by Nintendo.
These fish look like the ‘50s and ‘60s ideas of Martians.
The barreleye has a transparent head with glowing green eyes.
The fluid in their heads helps them direct their eyes up and down.
Their heads and eyes filter and redirect the small amount of sunlight that reaches their depth.
Not much is known about wild barreleye fish.
Hardly anything was known about their existence until 2004.
Nothing is known about their population or their lifespan.
They are known to eat jellyfish and live mostly in the Northern Pacific Ocean, but they also live in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans.
13. Black-Footed Ferret
The black-footed ferret is a crepuscular predator that uses prairie dog tunnels in order to hunt.
They will hunt sleeping prairie dogs right in their homes and even use the same tunnels to sleep during the day and late at night.
The dark tunnels of prairie dogs require excellent night vision.
Up to 91% of the black-footed ferret’s diet is prairie dogs.
These ferrets will only occasionally hunt mice, squirrels, and other small rodents.
These long, furry rodents often have a hard time being reintroduced to their previous hunting grounds because the number of prairie dogs is smaller than it once was.
Pangolins are some of the oddest yet cutest looking mammals on the planet.
The pangolin is often mistaken for a reptile from a distance thanks to the keratinous scales that cover its entire body.
Pangolins have gained their night vision from spending their days in burrows and their nights hunting insects.
Pangolins use their long, sticky tongues to slurp up ants and termites.
Pangolins hunt at night in order to try to avoid leopards and hyenas.
Their scales also help them stay safe and take up 20% of their body weight.
15. Fennec Fox
Best known for their massive ears and cute face, fennec foxes have become popular animals.
These nocturnal hunters spend their days sleeping in burrows that are up to 32 feet deep.
They do this to avoid the hot desert sun.
The fennec fox also has the tapetum lucidum layer in its eyes.
Their eyes aren’t the only special part of these tiny creatures.
Their ears are helpful for more than endearing humans.
They use their ears to help them locate prey underground and help them cool off easier.
Although most people have heard the old expression “as blind as a bat”, what they may not know is that this isn’t true.
What is a pitch-black night to humans is a well-lit world for bats.
People have previously blamed bat’s vision for their tendency to bump into one another and other objects, but bats are simply clumsy.
They are capable of using their eyes and echolocation in order to find tiny prey, such as mosquitoes and moths.
17. Elephantnose Fish
It was once believed that the elephantnose fish was completely blind, but most recent studies have discovered that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Elephantnose fish have a completely unique way of seeing, especially at night or in the dark.
Elephantnose fish use a special configuration of photoreceptors in the retina.
Normally, there are two types of photoreceptors in an eye.
There are cone receptors and rod receptors.
Cone receptors do better in brightly light areas while rod receptors work better in dimly light areas.
The elepantnose fish has cup-like photoreceptors that have a mirror-like quality to them.
They get this quality from the photonic crystals that form all around them.
This enhances the fish’s vision to be five times as effective at night.
Tarsiers are tiny primates with massive eyes, which easily take up a third of their heads.
Their large retinas and tiny pupils give them the visual advantage at night.
With how tiny this endangered species is, they need every advantage they can get.
Tarsiers prefer the wild, tropical islands of Southern Asia.
Tarsiers don’t adapt well anywhere but in the wild.
In captivity, tarsiers are shown to have suicidal tendencies.
The perfect place for tarsiers is the lower plantation that makes the tropical islands of their home.
Tarsiers only like to be three to six feet off of the ground, which is quite high for the tennis ball-sized creature.
Sharks are some of the most natural killers on the planet.
Everything about sharks is good for finding and killing their prey.
Similar to cats and foxes, sharks also have tapetum lucidum.
Their eyes are green when reflecting light.
In the black spots near sharks’ eyes, noses, and mouths, they also have electroreceptors that allow sharks to feel electromagnetic fields and temperature shifts in the water.
They can use this ability to find prey creatures that are out of sight.
Frogs are known for their round eyes that sprout from the top of their head.
These large eyes help these amphibians see clearly at night and allows them to see in front, to the sides, and partially behind them.
Frogs can see 180 degrees around themselves.
Their ability to see at night comes from the range of colors that frogs can see.
Frogs are also extremely sensitive to movement.
This helps frogs avoid predators and capture prey.
Just behind the frog’s eyes are their tympanum, which is the frogs’ eardrums.
Their external eardrums can’t hear as high or as low of sounds as humans can.
Geckos are crepuscular reptiles who have massive, round eyes.
However, there are species of geckos that are nocturnal.
You can find Geckos on almost every continent except for Antarctica.
Geckos’ night vision comes from their sensitivity to color, which is 350 times more sensitive.
While their large eyes are quite special, their ability to store fat in their tails is even more special.
Their tail can be used to store fat for when food is difficult to find.
Reindeer have always been special thanks to their connection with the winter holiday season, but scientists have discovered that reindeer can see ultraviolet light.
Due to all the time reindeer spend surrounded by snow, they have evolved to achieve another form of sight.
When the sun is out, it reflects harshly off the snow.
While this can cause damage to humans, it has caused reindeer to evolve and gain the ability to see through the blinding light.
Reindeer can see beyond what is on the visible color spectrum.
Scientists have yet to figure out how reindeer have managed to achieve this.
The aye-aye may not be the cutest animal in the world, but they have adapted incredibly well to their nightlife.
Aye-Aye have dark coats and tapetum lucidum, which helps them see at night and keeps them safe from their many predators.
Aye-ayes spend 80% of the night searching for food in the trees.
They prefer to eat fruit, but they also like bugs, nectar, seeds, nuts, and fungi.
Aye-ayes are about 12 to 16 inches tall with tails that can be 18 to 22 inches long, making them the biggest nocturnal primate.
Like many nocturnal animals, horses have tapetum lucidum.
While horses aren’t normally considered nocturnal or crepuscular like most other animals with the reflective eye layer, they can see quite well at night.
Horses are one of the few diurnal animals with the reflective layer of their eyes.
It takes a horse’s eyes 15 minutes to adjust between dark and light areas.
Even when going from light to dark, their eyes will take the same amount of time.
Alligators have excellent night vision thanks to their large retinas and highly adjustable pupils.
Alligators’ eyes work well above and below water.
While alligators may have excellent vision, only one-fifth of them will be able to reach adulthood.
Alligator eggs and hatchlings are the favorite meal of birds, otters, raccoons, snakes, and even other alligators.
In the wild, alligators have a life expectancy of about 35 to 50 years.
However, in captivity, alligators can live vastly longer.
There is one alligator that was born in captivity in 1936 that is still alive to this day!