Have you ever noticed how the eyes can make an animal appear? Some creatures have such dark eyes that they almost blend into the rest of the face. There’s something mysterious yet mesmerizing about black eyes in the animal kingdom. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most noteworthy species with this trait. From tiny primates to massive pandas, read about these animals with striking black eyes.
These tiny primates are found only on the island of Madagascar. They get their name from their small size, as they weigh 102-120 grams when fully grown. That’s about the same as a large apple!
Dwarf lemurs have huge eyes compared to their little heads. This species is nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and become active at night. Those oversized eyes help them see better in the dark. The eyes are completely black, contrasting with the white fur around them. When the lemur stares straight at you, it looks like a fuzzy creature with giant dark beads for eyes!
These primates live solitary lives, only coming together to mate. They spend most of their time leaping through the forest canopy. The dwarf lemur’s diet consists of fruit, flowers, nectar, and the occasional insect. Their long tongues are perfectly adapted for slurping up nectar from flowers.
Oriental Bay Owl
Next up is an owl with eyes like black marbles – the Oriental bay owl. This mysterious bird inhabits dense forests across South and Southeast Asia. It’s a moderately sized owl with a wingspan of about 2 feet. The bay owl gets its name from its rich russet plumage, which provides perfect camouflage against tree bark.
When glimpsed among the trees, the first thing you’ll notice are those inky pools of black. Like many owl species, the bay owl’s eyes are enormous. This adaptation allows them to see well in low-light conditions. The black irises strongly contrast its yellow eyeshine, the light reflected from the owl’s retina.
One of the Oriental bay owl’s most intriguing traits is how little we know about them. They are challenging to spot among the forest foliage, only appearing at dawn and dusk to hunt. Their prey consists mainly of large insects, small rodents, and birds. Very few nests have ever been discovered, adding to the mystery surrounding this rare species.
Meerkats are instantly recognizable due to their upright posture and expressive faces. These highly social mongoose species live in underground burrows across the deserts of southern Africa. Their eyes, featuring black rims surrounding amber irises, are what really stands out. Meerkats have excellent vision to spot predators and find scarce prey in the desert.
Living in cooperative groups called mobs. Meerkat sentries often stand upright on their hind legs to watch for danger. Their tall, skinny silhouette is unmistakable. Meerkats have binocular vision, meaning their eyes point straight forward. This gives them a depth perception similar to humans.
When a threat is detected, the sentry meerkat will give a warning call, prompting the mob to take action. They may swarm the intruder as a unit, often trying to nip at its heels. This mobbing behaviour can scare off predators many times their size!
Black-eyed Tree Frog
The black-eyed tree frog is found across Central and South America tropical regions. They get their name from those glossy, oval eyes with jet-black irises. The eyes almost look too large for the frog’s head and seem to bug out. But these oversized peepers serve an important purpose.
Firstly, spotted prey insects stand out strongly against the black background of the eye. Secondly, and most importantly, those protruding eyes give the frog a vast field of vision. They can see nearly 360 degrees without even moving their head! This helps them spot aerial predators like birds and snakes while at rest.
These small frogs are green with yellow and black spots, allowing them to blend into foliage. When threatened, they flatten their limbs against their body to avoid casting a shadow. Then, with a powerful leap, they glide from perch to perch, trying to escape.
These famous black and white bears are a national treasure of China. Giant pandas are instantly recognizable due to their rotund body shape and bold, contrasting colour pattern.
The eyes are their most charming feature. They consist of black, tear-shaped markings surrounding dark brown irises. These eyespots help cubs follow their mother in dim bamboo thickets. When a panda stares directly at you, it’s almost like being drawn into twin endless tunnels.
Did you know raccoons are nocturnal? That means they sleep during the day and become active at night. This lifestyle is ideal for these mischievous mammals, as they prefer not to be seen. Raccoons have distinctive black masks around their eyes that almost resemble a burglar’s disguise. The irises within are dark brown. But when light shines into them at night, they glow eerie pale blue.
The raccoon’s night vision is extremely advanced. A special membrane in the eye controls light levels entering the retina. This means they can switch from daylight to low-light vision far quicker than humans. The eyes of a raccoon shine an otherworldly blue when caught in a flashlight’s beam.
Living on the fringes of human settlement, raccoons have learned to exploit opportunities. They’ll raid garbage cans and crops and sneak into outbuildings for food.
Native to Indonesia, the Ayam Cemani is an all-black chicken breed with a supernatural appearance. Its feathers, beak, legs, bones, and organs appear black. But the most striking feature is the pure black eyes. The pupils, irises, and even the sclera (the whites of the eye) are fully pigmented. This haunting appearance is due to a genetic condition called fibromatosis. It causes an overproduction of melanin throughout the bird’s cells.
Descended from the green jungle fowl of Indonesia, the Ayam Cemani is quite rare. They were originally bred for religious ceremonies due to their mystical aura. But today, keepers tend to raise them as novelty ornamental birds.
Crows and ravens are famous for their intelligence. They can solve complex problems, hold grudges, and even make their own tools. This is reflected in their eyes, which appear dark brown and alert. The eyes are set within a mask of black bristly feathers. When gazing upon you, a crow’s eyes convey a sense of curiosity, intelligence, and even mischief.
One amazing fact about crows is that they collect shiny objects that grab their attention. This is called “gifting behaviour”, and its reason remains unclear. They typically collect metal scraps, tinsel, marbles, or anything else that captures the light.
Because crows have good memories, they may recognize individual people who have wronged or helped them in the past. So make friends with these clever black-eyed birds, and you may receive gifts and favours in return!
Ravens are close cousins of crows and share many traits like intelligence. But ravens are larger birds with thicker beaks, shaggier feathers, and diamond-shaped tails. Like a crow’s, their eyes are dark brown but appear black from a distance. One key difference is ravens soar at high altitudes, while crows tend to stay closer to the ground.
According to folklore, ravens are associated with dark magic and sorcery. When perched on a branch or fencepost, a raven does look rather sinister. Its hunched profile alongside a thick beak lend a shadowy appearance. As it gazes at you with inky eyes, its head occasionally twitches to study you from different angles. This only adds to the sense of uncanny intelligence emanating from this bird.
Lastly, we come to the black-headed grosbeak, a medium-sized songbird of North America. The male sports a showy black-and-white colour scheme. This includes a black head, neck, and upper chest contrasting sharply with its pale belly. As you’ve surely guessed, the eyes match the rest of the dark facial features. They are deep brown bordering on black.
The grosbeak’s bill is thick and cone-shaped, perfect for cracking seeds and hard fruits. They tend to forage closer to the ground than other songbirds. Females lack the dramatic black-and-white plumage of males. But they do retain the same striking eye colour.