It’s said the eyes are the windows to the soul. But when we say that are we including animals?
As our list of the animals with the biggest eyes in the world shows, perhaps we should include creatures in the wild as well. Housepets like dogs and cats have amazing ways of letting us know what they may be feeling simply by staring at our faces. And who looks the other way when being eyeballed by a colossal squid?
The fascination humankind has with the concept of eye contact is fascinating. We believe the eyes can tell tons about a person. We believe our eyes are strong indicators of confidence, shyness, curiosity, anger, frustration, and much, much more.
We say animals do the same thing. Let’s take a quick look at 14 animals that are famous for their huge eyes.
#14 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Tree Frog
Talk about your big eyes! The tree frog has eyes that protrude from the head, giving their eyes a bulging, almost alien stance. The feature is actually a defense mechanism. It’s called the “startle coloration.” Should the tree frog close its eyes, the eyelids, like its body, blend into their leafy ecosystem. If approached by a predator, the frog will open its eyes. The startling action of the large eyes paralyzes the predator, even if only momentarily. In that brief moment, the action gives the animal its opportunity to escape.
#13 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Sphynx Cat
In general, the cat family is considered to have large eyes. The Sphynx Cat proves it. They’re nearly hairless and the intensity of their eyes can be mesmerizing. The Sphynx has no eyelashes. This means the felines don’t have protectants against airborne debris. But they do produce a discharge that operates as a moisturizer and cleanser. They groom themselves, but traces of the discharge can remain. Owners then have to use lint-free soft washcloths and warm water to carefully clean any residue around the area. Don’t use chemicals of any kind. Not only might you get them in the eyes but the cat may lick it off.
#12 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Swordfish
The swordfish eye is the size of a softball. Swordfish use ocular heating to give them superior vision. It helps them capture prey that moves quickly. The swordfish has an organ devoted to generating heat. That keeps the eyes at least 10 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature in the water around them. Other sea animals who use ocular heating are tuna and some species of sharks. The heating process also includes the brain of the animal. Research indicates bony fish like the swordfish use this adaptation to prevent debilitating eye defects that can result from unexpected and fast water temperature changes. These conditions can be a threat to the animal’s nervous system.
#11 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Chameleon
Chameleons aren’t just the masters of disguise; they have the most colorful eyes among animals. Their eyes have multiple layers of skin. As with their ability to change skin color, the eye facility helps them blend into the environment to escape danger. The chameleon can move their eyes a complete 360 degrees. The animal can also switch their vision between binocular and monocular. The feature lets them view a scene with both eyes or form two images, one with each eye.
#10 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Horsfield’s Tarsier
Found in the lowland jungles of Southeast Asia, these creatures have two huge eyes on their small bodies. The Horsfield’s Tarsier is a relatively small and relatively unknown species. In the world of mammals, the tarsier has the largest eyes in relation to its body size. Each eye is the same volume as the animal’s brain. The primate is a furry little critter with thin limbs. But they make up for their size with agility and acute senses. Nocturnal, the tarsier uses thin ear membranes for capturing sound to forage and feed. The tarsier is also equipped with stunning jumping, leaping, and climbing skills.
#9 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Colossal Squid
The colossal squid is one of the world’s largest animals. It resides in the deepest waters of Antarctica. Besides its eyes, the creature has other unique attributes, including being the largest invertebrate on the planet. It’s even bigger than the animal kingdom’s biggest whale. (Sperm whales in the squid’s regions show scars from battles with the colossal squid.) The eyes of the colossal squid face forward to give them proper distance sighting. In the little light of the depths, they can spot food and predators. Each eye is about the size of a soccer ball.
#8 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Rabbit
Rabbit eyes come in a variety of colors but tend to be dark. The albino rabbit, on the other hand, always has red eyes. Rabbits not only have big eyes compared to their body size but their eyes give them some fascinating abilities. First, the eyes are located on opposite sides of the head. That gives the animals a panoramic field of vision. Without turning their heads, they can see 360 degrees, including above their head. The only blind spot is, believe it or not, in front of them. But their sense of smell and whiskers compensate for the defect. Rabbits also sleep with their eyes open. They close them only if they feel safe in the ecosystem.
#7 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Dog
When we say puppy eyes, we’re talking about that sad, inquisitive, BIG-eyed gaze so many dog lovers can’t resist. Studies show the dog generally has eyes around the size of a human. Only the cornea is larger in diameter resulting in a bigger iris. That feature is what gives your pooch the ability to create those incredibly expressive stares. They also have the tapetum lucidium – a layer in the eye that reflects light. It makes the dog’s eyes shine at night.
#6 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Lemur
Eye size is scientifically determined by its relation to the size of the head. Lemurs have tiny snouts and small body mass which give their eyes a large appearance. While the typical creature has bold yellow eyes many have shades of blue. There is also a new species with round black eyes. The lemur is a highly social animal and lives in troops where everyone watches for predators. Species of lemurs can operate either day or night.
#5 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Owl
Owls have extremely large eyes. Nocturnal, the owl sees well in extremely low levels of light. This is a great advantage for hunting. But, as some rumors go, the owl cannot see in the complete absence of visible light. Owls are the only animals that have better night vision than felines. The Great Grey Owl has huge black pupils that allow it to see better than any other night animal. Another fascinating thing about an owl’s eyes is the creature can’t move them. They can only see directly in front of them at all times. The owl has to turn its head to see to either side.
#4 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Pygmy Marmoset Monkey
Out in the forests of South America, the Pygmy Marmoset moves like a squirrel, darting, dashing, and freezing in its environments. Classified as a finger- or mini-monkey, the creature has keen eyesight for spotting predators and food. When you’re looking at a Marmoset, you’ll find their eyes are wider on their faces rather than big. The animals are extremely expressive, using their eyes and tufts to create looks of fear, surprise, and playfulness.
#3 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Ostrich
The ostrich has the largest eyes of any land animal. The eyes have a diameter of two inches, making their eyes about the size of a pool ball and five times larger than humans. As Mother Nature tends to balance things out, the eyes take up so much room in the head the ostrich has a brain smaller than its eyeballs. The bird can spot objects as far away as two miles in daylight. That keen eyesight protects the ostrich from predators. As they can move up to 45 miles an hour, seeing their enemy early gives the ostrich a good head start!
#2 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Zebra Black Spider
The zebra black spider is one of the smallest animals on the planet. It’s stocky and has short legs with white stripes on a black body. Compared to the rest of the body, the zebra spider has large eyes. They are the largest things on their faces and tend to be completely dark. Now, we need to note this spider actually has eight eyes. The main ones — the big ones — sit in front of the head and provide binocular vision. The other six eyes rest on the side of the head and give the critter a 360-degree panoramic view of its surroundings.
#1 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Slow Loris
The slow loris has big, expansive, saucer eyes sitting atop a small lower face. Don’t let the cover of the book fool you. They look like the cutest stuffed animal but their bite is dangerous. Their venom results in a flesh-rotting condition. New research shows the greatest victim of their bite are other slow lorises. But these animals are not necessarily dangerous. Their movement is deliberate and slow. When threatened, they’re more likely to remain motionless and wait for the danger to pass.
Next Up: Top 8 Smallest Sharks in the World