Have you ever seen an animal with striking red eyes? Some creatures in the animal kingdom have evolved to have crimson or ruby-coloured eyes, which can look scary or mesmerizing. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at ten animals with red eyes and learn about their appearance and behaviours.
Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko
The satanic leaf-tailed gecko is a master of camouflage with piercing red eyes. Native to Madagascar, this species has developed some incredible adaptations to blend into its environment.
The gecko’s body is covered in leaf-like flaps and tubercles that resemble dead leaves, allowing it to disappear against the foliage. When stationary, the gecko is incredibly hard to spot.
The unblinking red eyes of the satanic leaf-tailed gecko are thought to help startle predators when caught by surprise. The contrast of the red against the gecko’s mottled brown body makes them stand out suddenly when the gecko is disturbed. This gives the predator a bit of a fright, allowing the gecko time to scamper away to safety.
Red-Eyed Tree Frog
The red-eyed tree frog is one of the most iconic animals with red eyes. About 2-3 inches long, this frog lives in tropical rainforests from southern Mexico to Panama. It’s named for its vibrant ruby-red eyes, which almost glow against the frog’s bright green body. The red eyes are thought to be a defence mechanism, startling predators when the frog is disturbed.
The red-eyed tree frog spends most of its time up in the rainforest canopy, sleeping on leaves during the day. But at night, it becomes active, leaping from branch to branch to hunt for insects.
It has expanded toe pads to help it grip onto slippery leaves. The bright colouration of its eyes, feet, and flanks warns predators that the frog’s skin contains toxic substances, making it taste foul.
The snail kite is a fascinating raptor that uses its crimson eyes to hunt for its favourite prey – apple snails. Found in freshwater marshes in Florida, Cuba, and South America, the snail kite has a dark grey plumage and a long, hooked beak specially adapted for snail hunting.
As the bird soars over the marsh, its keen red eyes scan the vegetation below for signs of apple snails. When it spots one, the snail kite plunges down swiftly to grab the snail in its beak and carry it back to a perch to eat.
With its vivid red eyes, the snail kite has excellent vision to detect the molluscs’ movements and shapes from high above. Red may also enhance its visual contrast, helping the eyes lock onto small snail targets.
The red-eyed vireo is a small migratory songbird found across North America in summer, recognized by – you guessed it – its red eyes! This olive-grey bird spends summers breeding in temperate forests across the US and Canada. It builds an open cup nest in the tree canopy, where it raises its young. To attract a mate, the male red-eyed vireo sings a monotonous but cheerful song throughout the day.
With its ruby-red eyes, the red-eyed vireo has excellent colour vision compared to other vireos. This helps it spot colourful fruits and insects among the green leaves to fuel its long migration and breeding season. The red colour also flushes with blood when the bird is agitated, serving as a threat display against rivals and predators.
Eastern Box Turtle
The eastern box turtle is a colourful freshwater turtle of eastern North America. It gets its name from its ability to seal inside its shell when danger threatens. Two brightly-coloured eyes are peeking out from the turtle’s black and yellow patterned shell – often red, orange or yellow.
The eastern box turtle’s glowing eye colour is thought to play a role in communication and mating. Males typically have brighter red or orange eyes than females, which they use to signal dominance and health.
Females may prefer males with vibrantly coloured eyes during mating season. The eyes also allow box turtles to exchange glances when interacting and provide warnings against predators.
Peacock Mantis Shrimp
The peacock mantis shrimp is one of the most colourful crustaceans in the ocean depths, and it has dazzling, complex eyes to match. These pugnacious shrimp live in tropical waters across the Indo-Pacific, hiding in burrows during the day and emerging at night to hunt.
They have 12 different colour receptors in their eyes, compared to humans’ 3, allowing them to see colours we can’t imagine. Against a background of iridescent greens and blues, the peacock mantis shrimp’s eyes glow a striking red.
The shrimp’s thousands of red-tinted eye facets provide incredibly detailed vision and depth perception that helps the mantis shrimp nab prey and navigate its environment. They can also move and focus each eye independently, allowing full 360 degrees of vision.
The eyes collect useful data across the light spectrum, including ultraviolet, infrared, and even polarized light signals. With its incredible vision, it’s no wonder the peacock mantis shrimp has such stunning, scarlet-coloured eyes. They provide a whole new view of the underwater world!
The emu is a flightless bird and Australia’s largest native bird species. Standing up to 6 feet tall, it roams grasslands and savannas for plants, fruits, and insects to eat. The emu’s shaggy black-grey plumage blends into its environment, except for its vivid blue neck, striking red eyes, and beak.
The emu’s piercing red eyes provide excellent vision. Emus have good long-distance eyesight during the day, which helps spot approaching predators on the open plains. Their eyes also have specialized retinal tissues containing millions of tiny crystals that reflect light.
This helps emus see well in low-light conditions. The refractive properties of these crystals even allow emus to see objects that emit ultraviolet light, which humans can’t detect!
Ring Tailed Lemur
The ring-tailed lemur is best known for its vivid yellow eyes and long, boldly striped black and white tail. These charismatic primates live in groups in the deciduous forests of Madagascar. Both males and females have striking eyes that range from pale yellow to orange and deep red. Their reflective eyes glow brightly at night from the light of the moon and stars.
The lemur’s dazzling eyes likely help lemurs communicate and define social hierarchies and breeding status. Dominant males tend to have more vibrant red eyes, which they use to intimidate rivals and impress potential mates. Their eyes also enhance their excellent night vision, allowing them to spot nocturnal predators like fossas lurking in the darkness.
The red-shouldered bug is a striking black insect punctuated by crimson-red eyes. This half-inch bug feeds on seeds and plant juices across the eastern US and southeast Canada. When resting, it often tucks its head under its body. When viewed suddenly, these prominent red eye spots on each side are thought to startle predators, making the insect look like a much larger animal.
Research has shown that birds are less likely to attack the red-shouldered bug than other black insects without eyespots. The crimson spots create the illusion of a more giant head and body.
At the same time, red indicates the bug’s toxic nature, as red and black is a classic warning signals in the insect world. So this tiny bug has evolved a clever way to avoid becoming prey, all thanks to its fake red eyes that scare predators away!
Lastly, the black-shouldered kite is an elegant bird of prey with piercing red eyes found in open habitats from the southwest US to Chile. True to its name, this raptor has distinctive black “shoulders” contrasting with its otherwise white plumage. As the kite soars overhead, its bright red eyes scan the ground vigilantly for rodents and lizards to snatch up as a meal.
With their excellent vision, black-shouldered kites can spot prey while soaring nearly 400 feet! Their red eyes are thought to enhance visual contrast, helping the birds lock onto small moving targets against varied ground backgrounds.