What animals can see at night

Federal Agency for Nature Conservation BfN

Life in the dark requires good adaptation. In the course of evolution, those characteristics that gave animals advantages for life at night have evolved and become more pronounced.

In many nocturnal animals, the senses such as the sense of hearing or smell are particularly sharpened. For example, an owl can perceive the slightest noises from a long distance and, with the help of its specially arranged ears, also localize the noises, i.e. locate them. At the same time, their plumage is structured in such a way that they do not make any noise when approaching the prey. As a rule, their prey notices them too late and the hunt is successful.

Bats are also well adapted to the dark. You orient yourself in the dark with the help of echolocation. They emit sounds inaudible to humans, so-called sound waves, which are reflected back by the environment. They process these into a picture so that they can "see" very well even at night.

Cats also hunt prey at night and are very well adapted to the dark. Your eyes have a special property: they reflect the light that has not been absorbed and reflect it in such a way that the little residual light is amplified. This is also the reason why cat eyes glow strongly in the dark when they are illuminated. This is where the name cat's eye comes from, which is colloquially used for reflectors.