Animals With Good Night Vision

Updated July 20, 2017

Most nocturnal animals have the ability to see well in the dark, which makes it easier for them to sneak up on unsuspecting prey. Their pupils dilate to allow maximal light exposure. Animals with good night vision also have many light-receptor cells called rods that help them control their eye sensitivity to light. Most can't see as well during the day and can't see colour.

Bug-eyed Mammals

Some mammals, like raccoons, have unusually large eyes to help them see better in the night. They sleep during the day and have agile fingers to help them climb and grab smaller animals, fruits, insects and, often, open garbage cans. Similar animals include night monkeys and opossums, which can see very well at night but cannot see colour. Tarsiers are small mammals with eyes larger than their brains. They can see so well at night they can catch the smallest animals in complete darkness.

Carnivorous Hunters

Red foxes like to hunt on their own. They feed on fruits and nuts, as well as small night-active animals like mice and frogs. They also feed on birds that cannot see well in the dark when it is more difficult to fly. Large cats like snow leopards that live in Central Asia also have good night vision. They hunt for larger animals like sheep and marmots at dusk or at dawn.

Snakes and Fishes

Cuttlefish, a type of cephalopod, have eyes that are just as functional as normal human eyes. They even have eyelids that can close and open, depending on light intensity. They hide themselves during the day and hunt crabs and fish at night. Some snakes, like pit vipers, also prefer to hunt at night. Pit vipers use their eyes as well as pits found near their nostrils to detect heat. The senses work together to help the snake collect images faster and more accurately at night.

Nocturnal Birds

Owls, the most well-known nocturnal birds, sleep during the day and are most active at night. Their eyes are specifically adapted for lowlight conditions. They can still see during the day, but their vision works best at night. Owls have binocular vision, which means they can spot a small rodent on the ground while watching from a tree. They eat night-active creatures like crickets and frogs, as well as sleeping birds. Larger owls, like Eagle owls, even hunt bigger animals like red foxes. Other birds with nocturnal vision include tawny frogmouths and nightjars, which feed on small night insects like beetles and moths.

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About the Author

Jessica Hart has been a freelance writer since 2010. She writes for online publications such as eHow, specializing in health and fitness, culture and travel. Hart has taught English and comprehension, and has also written book reviews. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Lethbridge University.