If you are curious about animals that have night vision, this list will certainly satisfy your curiosity! The ability to see clearly at night is not something humans can do, but these animals have no problems seeing in the dark.
The animals listed here do not rank in any particular order. The only criterion for being on this list is their night vision ability.
The wolf is the largest member of the dog family. At a point, certain sub-species almost went extinct, especially the larger gray wolves native to North America, Canada, and Europe.
Wolves get the best of this world because their daytime vision is just as good as their night vision. Their night vision is better than that of most animals. But they do not rely solely on their eyesight for their nocturnal hunts.
Wolves have a strong sense of smell, making them excellent predators. Their whiskers act as receptors, thus helping them detect their surroundings.
Of all the animals listed here, owls have the best night vision. This quality is partially due to the size of their eyes. Their sharp talons, ability to fly silently, extreme night vision, and binaural hearing makes them excellent birds of prey.
There are over 200 owl species. They have flexible vertebrae that allow them to turn their heads about 270 degrees without breaking their necks. With that level of flexibility, they can keep track of their prey without missing a beat.
Owls are solitary creatures and prefer hunting alone. In folklore, owls represent dark warnings. The barn owl, for example, means death.
You’ve probably heard the adage “as blind as a bat.” Contrary to what we think we know, bats are not blind. However, their perception of the world around them differs from that of humans.
There are over 1,300 species of bats, and their eyesight abilities vary depending on the species. This variation has a lot to do with evolution and needs. For example, since bats are predominantly nocturnal, it makes sense for them to adapt their vision to low-light environments.
Their ability to see colors is limited. However, at night, they see better than humans.
Foxes are among the smaller members of the Canidae family. They are known for their cleverness. Of all species, the red fox is the most famous. These mammals inhabit every continent except Antarctica.
Foxes are omnivores. But certain species, like the crab-eating fox, have a very exclusive diet. As humans encroach on wildlife territories, foxes have learned to adapt to urban living.
Although people have often spotted foxes during the day, they are predominantly nocturnal. Their excellent night vision makes them great hunters at night.
Cats are the only members of the Felidae family that have been successfully domesticated. There are over 60 different cat breeds.
When it is bright, cats don’t see as well as humans do. However, in dim light, the table turns. A layer of eye tissue known as tapetum lucidum makes it possible for them to see at night. Another unique thing about a cat’s eyesight is that it can blink without obstructing its view.
6. Andean Night Monkeys
As their names suggest, these are nocturnal monkeys native to the Andes mountains of Peru. They are an endangered species possessing impressive nighttime vision. Unlike other animals we’ve discussed, these monkeys reportedly do not have the tapetum lucidum.
Andean night monkeys can see well at night thanks to their large eyes. They have a 50% vision advantage compared to other diurnal species of monkeys.
Since they are not predators, these monkeys spend their time looking for food, eating, and resting.
Not all snakes can see clearly at night. The ones that do have something called a pit organ. This organ creates infrared imagery of living organisms that produce body heat. Boas, pythons, and vipers are snake species that have pit organs.
This helps them spot potential prey, “triangulate” their position, and then hunt the prey down. Of all the snakes with pit organs, the pit viper has the most evolved form.
Thanks to this, their hunting precision is swift and vicious, making them one of the most powerful predators.
Summary of 7 Animals That Have Incredible Night Vision
|#||Animal||Why They See So Well|
|1||Wolves||Excellent eyesight – day and night|
|3||Bats||Vision has evolved specifically for the night-time|
|5||Cats||A layer of eye tissue known as tapetum lucidum|
|6||Andean Night Monkeys||Extra-large eyes|
|7||Snakes (with pit organs)||The pit organ creates infrared imagery|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/tane-mahuta
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- Cleveland Clinic, Available here: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/24309-night-vision
- EarthSky, Available here: https://earthsky.org/earth/night-vision-cats-bats-and-owls/
- OneKind Planet, Available here: https://onekindplanet.org/animal/fox-red/
- American Museum of Natural History, Available here: https://www.amnh.org/explore/news-blogs/news-posts/pit-vipers-can-detect-prey-via-heat