16 Animals with Red Eyes

Photo: Volker Heide / Shutterstock

Red eyes on animals are a common horror movie staple, but they’re not that common in real life.

As a matter of fact, many animals with red eyes are actually adorable in real life, and in this article, we’ll be listing them all down.

  • Red-eye Tree Frog
  • Rosy-billed Pochard
  • Common Box Turtle
  • Black-necked Grebes
  • Ring-tailed Lemurs
  • Chinese Pit Vipers
  • Common European Adders
  • Wood Ducks
  • Emus
  • Black-crowned Night Herons
  • Satanic Leaf-tailed Geckos
  • Northern Goshawks
  • Northern White-faced Owl
  • Redeye Tetras
  • Flesh Flies
  • All Albino Animals

1. Red-eye Tree Frog

Scientific name: Agalychnis callidryas

The red-eye tree frog is the most famous amphibian with red eyes, as they’re incredibly bright and provide a contrast to the frog’s green body. These frogs are tiny, with the females reaching 3 inches in length, while the males are often smaller.

We can only find them in Central America, ranging from Oaxaca in Mexico to northern Colombia. They’re primarily arboreal (no wonder they’re called tree frogs), and spend the majority of their day in the trees.

A common misconception is that all colorful frogs are poisonous – this is untrue. Red-eye treefrogs aren’t poisonous in any way, and they rely on their red eyes to see predators at night and hide.

Additionally, their red eyes have proven to scare off would-be predators!

2. Rosy-billed Pochard

Scientific name: Netta peposaca

These birds with red eyes display significant sexual dimorphism, as females look nothing like males. Males are mostly black and grey, with a strong, red beak and red eyes.

Females, on the other hand, are mostly brown with black eyes. It is still unclear as to why males have red eyes, but it’s hypothesized it’s got something to do with low levels of melanin.

Unlike some other animals on this list, the red eyes of the rosy-billed pochard don’t help the animal catch insects, nor do they have any effect on their sight.

3. Common Box Turtle

Scientific name (genus): Terrapene carolina

Common box turtles are just one of the many reptiles with red eyes, which is only apparent in males, while female common box turtles develop yellow-brown eyes.

Once again, the cause of eye redness is still unknown. It’s possibly just sexual dimorphism, while box turtles living in captivity can develop red eyes because of an unhealthy environment.

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4. Black-necked Grebes

Scientific name: Podiceps nigricollis

Another species of duck with red eyes (and personally, the most beautiful one), black-necked grebes have red eyes, and it is presumed that they use them to attract mates. In this species, both males and females have red eyes.

As adults, they develop a combination of black and red feathers, while juveniles are mostly brown and grey. These ducks are easy to recognize because of the light-red streak of feathers on their black head, right alongside the red eyes.

5. Ring-tailed Lemurs

Scientific name: Lemur catta

This endangered mammal with red eyes is only found in southern Madagascar, and it’s easily recognizable by its red eyes! Not all lemurs have eyes of the same color, though, and there are some lemurs with lighter eyes, even yellow.

Lemurs are well-known for having incredible eyesight at night, and it is speculated that their vividly-colored eyes have something to do with this, but more research is necessary to confirm or deny this.

There are even blue-eyed lemurs, proving that there’s no rule within this family.

6. Chinese Pit Viper

Scientific name: Trimeresurus stejnegeri

The movie blockbuster Anaconda convinced a lot of people that snakes have red eyes (and demonized an entire order of animals), but this is untrue, as only a few snake species have red eyes, and anacondas aren’t one of them.

The Chinese pit viper, on the other hand, really does have red eyes! Even though they’re entirely green to fit in with the environment, their eyes are entirely red, sometimes dark orange.

The exact purpose of this mutation is still unknown. However, eye color doesn’t necessarily have to hold a purpose.

7. Common European Adders

Scientific name: Vipera berus

The most well-researched snake in history, the European adder has large eyes that often develop a black color. The exact reason these snakes develop this mutation is unknown.

These snakes with red eyes are widespread around East, North, Central, and West Europe, where they’re easily recognizable because of their color pattern. As seen from above, they’re grey, but there’s a distinct black zig-zag pattern.

There are also melanistic snakes that are entirely black, but they’re rarer.

8. Wood Ducks

Scientific name: Aix sponsa

This is another example of sex dimorphism in ducks, with the male ducks being much more colorful and developing red eyes. It’s likely that these colorful animals with red eyes use their colorfulness to attract female mates.

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Females, on the other hand, are mostly grey and brown with some blue patching on their wings. The bright red eyes on the male provide a stark contrast to the dark-green head.

9. Emus

Scientific name: Dromaius novaehollandiae

These animals with red eyes and sharp claws are endemic to Australia, and they’re the second-largest birds in the world. Their eyes aren’t limited to the color red, as they can also be blue.

Emu birds are usually brown with a white patch on their neck, right below their head, and it is unknown why their eyes are red. Just like ostriches, they’re incredibly quick and can easily outrun any person. They’re also very dangerous as they have long, sharp claws that are their primary defensive weapon.

Even though it’s a bird, and birds are usually prey for many predators, emus have almost no natural predators, with the dingo being the only natural threat to them.

10. Black-crowned Night Herons

Scientific name (family): Nycticorax nycticorax

Night herons of this kind are easily recognized by their bright-red eyes providing contrast to their white feathers.

This white animal with red eyes has a black crown on the top of its head. The wings are also black, just like the beak, while the eyes are yellow.

There are no differences between sexes, except for the males being larger than the females. When threatened, they’ll stand upright in a so-called threat display to intimidate the enemy – their red eyes definitely help with that.

11. Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko

Scientific name: Uroplatus phantasticus

These geckos are indigenous to Madagascar and their name is certainly a mouthful. One of the very few lizards with red eyes, the satanic gecko has large red eyes with an eyelash projection above each eye, helping them blend into the environment.

Incredibly, these geckos are easily mistaken for a leaf. They’ve evolved to, quite literally, imitate a dying leaf and the results are incredible. They’re mostly nocturnal animals, and you could easily pass by them during the day without noticing them.

Their mouths are strikingly red too, which helps deter predators when they have to intimidate them.

12. Northern Goshawk

Scientific name: Accipiter gentilis

This hawk with red eyes only develops those eyes after its second year, while adolescents and juveniles have yellow eyes. Hawks in Europe don’t even develop red eyes, but orange-colored eyes.

This is a natural pigmentation change and it’s not connected to any flying adaptation. It’s actually very common for all birds, not just hawks, to change eye color with time, be it because of aging or because of their living conditions.

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Eye discoloration can happen because of unhealthy air, moisture, or because of drinking water. Birds that dive into the water with their eyes open can also change eye color because of irritation.

13. Northern White-faced Owl

Scientific name: Ptilopsis leucotis

This owl with red eyes is almost entirely white, making its red eyes a sharp contrast to its body. It can be found all over Africa, and it’s possible that its red eyes are a defense mechanism.

If it’s facing a predator of a similar size, it will flap its wings to make itself look larger – the red eyes make it look menacing.

If it has to face a large predator, it will elongate the body and narrow the eyes to make them look like tiny slits, essentially camouflaging itself.

Their instinct isn’t to fly away when facing a threat.

14. Redeye Tetras

Scientific name: Moenkhausia sanctaefilomenae

This fish with red eyes is mostly silver, with red eyes and a black band around the tail. They’re originally from South America, while you can also find them in many aquariums around the world.

Females are usually larger than males because their belly is full of eggs. They mostly feed on worms and insects, but they’re actually omnivores and eat both vegetation and small prey.

15. Flesh Flies

Scientific name (family): Sarcophagidae 

This family of insects with red eyes is a common pest all around the world. They’re mostly scavengers, feeding on leftovers of dead animals and all food products thrown away by humans.

On top of that, they’re carriers of leprosy bacilli and can transmit other illnesses, sometimes causing myiasis in animals.

16. All Albino Animals

We didn’t mention any specific albino species because all albino animals have red eyes or sometimes pink eyes.

These white animals with red eyes have suffered abnormal development of eyes, which doesn’t only lead to the red color, but also problems with depth perception.

Their eyes are red because you can see the color of the red blood cells through their retina. So, they’re not actually red, you’re just seeing the blood behind their eyes.

Normally-pigmented animals have a colored iris, somewhat protecting the retina.

Learn More Through These Related Lists:

  1. 12 Animals with Blue Eyes
  2. Top 16 Animals with Long Tongues List
  3. 10 Animals with No Teeth
  4. Top 9 Animals with Big Lips
  5. 15 Animals with Long Necks

James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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