15 Animals With Glowing Eyes: Red, Yellow, Green and White

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Isn’t it fascinating to look at some animals in the dark and watch their eyes glow like they have some bulb fixed into their sockets instead of eyeballs? These animals with glowing eyes in the dark are nocturnal animals which are more active during the night- the colors ranging from:

  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • To White

There are myriad nocturnal animals whose natural eye color is way different and distinct from their eyeshine in the dark. Cats are the most spectacular of all of these nocturnal animals that reflect a number of colors and have a great night vision. When animals have glowing eyes, they also have a good night vision, which is correlated to their mechanism of reflecting the light through the retina. 

Below is a list of animals with glowing eyes in the dark, which is prominent and can be easily noticed with naked eyes.

Animals with Red Eyes

Most animals have shining red eyes at night. There are numerous animals that have the signature red glow in their eyes; however, the animals with the most prominent red-glowing eyes in the dark are alligators, owls, cats, and rabbits. Animals with heterochromia in the regular blue eyes are more susceptible to giving off a red eyeshine in the dark.

 

Alligators

Alligator eye

Alligators have big eyes compared to their bodies. In the dark, their eyeballs look red and make them look even more dangerous. The eyeshine is because they are nocturnally active. The animals which are active at night have eyes which are rich in rod cells. Nocturnal animals have a transparent-like membrane at the back of the eyes behind the retina, which reflects back the light through the eye. The transparent membrane is tapetum lucidum. In most cases, the eyeshine glows bright red in light and can be seen through a distance of 300meter.

 

Owls

Owl with Red eyes

The other animal which has red eyes in the dark is the owl. Owls usually hunt their prey right before dark, and they have good hearing. Their eyes are longer and tube-shaped, held rigidly in place by bones called sclerotic rings, and because of that, it lets in more light, which is why they can see better in dark. Because of the tube-shaped structure of the eyes, the movements of eyes are restrained, and they have to turn their heads (which can be turned to a friggin 270 degrees). The eye color of an owl tends to give the accurate time of the owl being active.

 

Cats

Cats with red eyes

There are a variety of eye colors in cats. In dark, their pupils dilate to fit lower lightning, and in very little light, pupils fill her eyes. The red glow in cats’ eyes is due to a membrane of tissue, tapetum lucidum, which causes the light behind the retina. The membrane behaves like a mirror, which reflects light that wasn’t absorbed by the retina the first time and, as a result, is reflected back to the viewer. The tapetum lucidum helps them to see better in the dark; also a cat’s eyes shine brighter in dark because of the tapetum lucidum and its ability to reflect multiple colors, other than red.

 

Rabbits

Rabbit with red eye in grass

Those cute bunnies have red eyes when spotted in the dark. The cuter they look with their fuzzy body and big beady eyes, the scarier they look with those red eyes bulging and shining during the night. The red-eye rabbits are because of albinism- the rabbit’s body is devoid of color, and the red-eye occurs due to the reflection from the back of the eyes. The eye color comes from the iris, and it is produced by a pigment that reflects some wavelengths of light. The back of the eye is thin and has tiny tubes filled with blood. Their eyes are situated on the side and upper part of the head, which allows them to look almost 360 degrees, and that is just as surprising to us as it is to you.

 

Animals with Yellow and Orange eyes

The yellow eye color of a lot of animals is usually a ladder between orange and light yellow, which usually reflects back as the fluorescent yellow ochre tint. When animals have heterochromia and possess normal brown eyes, a number of these animals reflect yellow eyeshine. Bears and raccoons have the most prominent yellow eyeshine in the dark.

 

Bears

Bear with orange eyes

One of the animals with yellow eyes is bears. Usually, in the daytime, they have dark brown eyes. But at night, when light reflects through their eyes, they appear to be yellowish. With this eye color, they could be more terrifying in dark to look at. Bears have a reflective membrane tapetum lucidum, which is the lining behind the eyeball, which gives the nocturnal animals their distinct, bright glow when they are reflected through their eyeballs when flashed with light in dark. They have special adaptations which help them to see inside the water. However, just because they look fuzzy and cuddly, never ever dare to hug them, thinking of them to be your regular teddy (they are going to tear you into pieces if the need be).

 

Cats

Cats with yellow eyes

Their eye color varies with all sorts of colors that are typically determined by lipochrome and melanin. The influence of these two pigments refers to the eye color of a cat, but in dark, the light changes the color by reflecting through different wavelengths. Even cats are nocturnal animals with large and luminous eyes, which help them hunt in the dark when they can even watch the tiny prey moving through small distances- the tapetum reflects the light and gives the color of the eye. In order to see clearly, they have a wider pupil and greater curve of lens and cornea, which is a smart and truly wonderful survival mechanism.

 

Deers

deer with yellow eyes

Another animal with yellow eye color is deer. They will usually terrify by coming in front of the car when you are driving. However, they are graceful and agile, so unless you’ve been poking and incessantly annoying one for no reason, deer are no potential threat to you. Like all other night active animals, deer’s eyes are rich in rod cells, and they have good night vision because of photoreceptor cells in their retina.

 

Raccoons

Raccoons

Raccoons are nocturnal animals that have a reflective layer called the tapetum behind the eyes. They usually reflect yellow light when flashed. If you find a raccoon sneaking into your yard and trying to eat the leftover, flashing a torch at him would probably make you go back two steps the first time for the scary appearance they give with their eyes reflecting yellow light through their eyes.

Chinchillas

Chinchillas are quite good pets and truly adorable ones. Their eyes are light yellow when it’s dark, and there is some source of light that reaches their eyes. Their vision is not so good, but they can see color like other rodents. However, their night vision is good, and they have a pretty good sense of hearing and smell, and it is because of good hearing they have large ears, and they hear their prey and react to it before the prey can see them. They live in underground moles and burrows. Chinchillas have only rods in their retina.

 

Panthers

Panther with yellow eyes

Another animal from yellow eyes is panthers at night. They are big cats who hunt in the dark, and their yellow eyes are intense, quite intense. The yellow eyes are only seen in the dark. However, a panther’s eyes can also appear green sometimes. They have hazel eyes without any sort of reflection in the dark. The two major factors which influence the eye color of panthers is- iris pigmentation and blue refraction. They have black fur, and the combination of yellow eyes makes them scarier and mesmerizing to look at, at the same time.

 

Animals with Green eyes 

Creatures with green eyes in the absence of natural sunlight usually have a yellow and light green mix that reflects back as fluorescent green in the dark. Opossums have spectacular green eyeshine in the dark due to the huge amount of white pigment in their natural eye color. The other animals with green eyes are dogs, cats, foxes, opossums, etc.

 

Dogs

Dogs

Dogs appear to have green color eyes in dark. Their tapetum lucidum aids in having better vision at night, which is why so many dogs are used for guarding and police work and sniff-hunting. When light passes through the retina and reflects by the tapetum, it gives the eye a green appearance. The tapetum is located between the optic nerve and retina and reflects light and allows rods and cones to pick up more light.

 

Cats 

cat with green eyes

If you own a cat, you must have someday been creeped out by the eerie glow of your cat’s eyes sitting on your chest, just plainly trying to snuggle with you. Cats are very cute and furry pets, and they look quite terrifying in the dark with their colored eyes. The reflective layer behind the retina is known as “shining layer” in Latin, which creates the appearance of glow. It protects sensitive retina’s from damage. The result is an eerie glow as cats’ eyes catch a beam of light in the dark.

 

Foxes

fox

The color of fox eyes can vary depending upon many things. The color of the spotlight being used can also have an effect on the reflection of the retina. The green shine in the eyes of the foxes is because the light reflects from the back of their eyes ( though some breeds have different eyeshine). Their eyeshine may vary through different colors. The fox age can also affect the coloration. Their eyes move faster than other animals, which would help us to identify it. The slight distance between fox and the light affects the color. The fox eyes are very intense at night. They usually hunt their prey at night. To identify whether it’s a fox or you should go for green eyeshine with a tinch of white eyeshine in it.

Opossums

The eyes of opossums open when they gain their sense of sight. Opossums are smart, clean, and very beneficial to human beings. They are omnivores. They do have white eyes and irises, and their pupils are so large and let in more light, and it appears green in dark. They have a very sharp memory, and they remember where they traveled to scavenge the food. They usually have partial immunity towards venom.

 

Animals with White-eyes

This, as per our opinion, is the freakiest-looking eye color that will give you the chills when you notice an animal with this eyeshine in the dark. Usually, coyotes, the nastiest of animals that sneak into your yard, have very prominent white eyes glowing in the dark, which makes it easier to spot them while they try to sneak into your yard or steal food from the trash.

Coyotes 

Coyotes’ eyes are white in the dark. They spend their considerable time rubbing their body, staying close to the ground where sticks, grit, and bugs could easily get caught in. They are dependent on their binocular vision for the hunt and are diurnal animals, which may be seen at any time of the day. They have many rod receptors in their eyes because of which their eye color at night is white. Rods require less light to activate and reflect the light from the retina.

Deer

Deers are very active at night, and their eyes reflect white in the dark. The deer can detect their prey in the dark due to the structure and making of their eye in a certain manner that have specialized cells to aid the deer in the dark. They use two types of cells to interpret light, rods, and cones- rods are responsible for interpreting light at low levels known as scotopic vision. They are very cute and adorable, but they look quite freaky in the dark, especially when they sometimes come before your car, out of nowhere.

 

Tigers

white tiger with white eyes

Tigers have a very extensive use of their vision, but particularly for hunting at night. The tiger’s eyesight is almost equal to the quality that they enjoy during the day, and they are more impressive than other animals. Tigers also have binocular vision, which allows them to use their sense of depth perception to judge exact distance, giving bouncing and jumping actions. Their eyes are situated in front of their head and not to the sides, which help them for depth perception and 3D view.

Why Do Some Animals’ Eyes Glow at Night?

Nocturnal animals have eyes designed to aid them in hunting at night and protect themselves from being prey to other animals. Diurnal creatures, including humans, have more cones in comparison to nocturnal creatures, which allows us to have better eyesight during the day. On the other hand, nocturnal animals have much more rods and an additional layer, which is a mirror-like membrane known as the tapetum lucidum, which reflects back light helping the eyes gather light and observe the motion of the prey.


Nocturnal animals have an eyeshine during the night due to the passing of light through the retina, which is then reflected by the tapetum lucidum- a bright tapestry of cells. The light upon reflection bounces back through the retina, in twice the amount of light that was initially reflected on the animal’s eye and that which is normally available.  

How To Identify Animal Eyes at Night?

We all know how fun hikes and camping could be; however, there are certain nocturnal party-crashers that you can easily spot and act accordingly to get back to your partying self and enjoy your night. 

Most nocturnal animals have tapetum lucidum (we’ve explained the term countless times) that reflect a certain eye color in the dark upon flashing a light. While some animals have only one color of eyeshine, some of them can have multiple of them (such as cats).

Now, using a flashlight (a soft one to not spook the animal out) or a headlight with a cover, you can recognize which animal you are looking at in the dark based on these four factors:

  • Reflective color of the eyeball
  • Shape of the eyes
  • Shape of the eyelid over the pupil
  • Pupil slit orientation

Let’s understand how you can recognize some of the most often encountered animals at night based on the four factors mentioned above:

Coyotes

If the pupil lies parallel to the eye, which may be oval in shape and is glowing faint or bleak white, you have possibly encountered a coyote, so pack your bags and RUN.

Wolf and Foxes

If the pupil lies in a parallel pattern with oval eyes and there is a prominent shining red light reflected by the eyeballs, you have encountered a canine, most probably a wolf. If you even as much as slightly see these patterns while recognizing the animal in front of you, turn your tail and vamoose!

Red fox’s eyes are much like a cat’s eyes with pupils in perpendicular to the slit. Red foxes emit a red glow through their eyes, and they can be recognized apart from the other animals on the basis of their angled oval shape eyes that are much different from dogs and other canines.

Cats

Both big and small felines have a heavy upper eyelid, and the pupil slit orientation is perpendicular to the shape of the eye. Spotting a cat’s eyes can be a little difficult since they often emit different colors based on different factors. Usually, their eyes will appear yellow or green in light at night.

Black Bear

Black bears have large round deep-set eyes that are closer to the ground. Their eyes seem to be nearly pupil-less while they glow red or yellow in the dark.

Owl

Owls are the easiest to spot, with large pupils set in glowing brown or red eyes. Owls sitting on the branch of a tree are most definitely OWLS because most nocturnal animals with an eyeshine live on the land.

Read more

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I am Swati Jaiswal, the Co-Founder, Chief Editor at Tinyphant. Like all of our team members, I am a frenzied animal lover (not the watches-National-Geographic-all-day kind of lover) striving and living to raise awareness about animal care and protection while also bringing you fun content to help you understand your pets and the animals around you even better.

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