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Thread: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* parnass's Avatar
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    Default Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Is is possible to identify animals by the color light reflected by their eyes?

    I live in a semi-rural area and shine an LED flashlight around the property each night, looking for animals when I put the dog outside.

    I can often see the reflection of a distant animal's eyes, but my flashlights aren't always powerful enough to light up the body. The eyes of the coyotes and dogs I've seen usually shine blue in color. I've seen yellow eyes and I think they belong to cats.

    What other animals can I identify by eye color reflection in the dark?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Flashaholic* AFAustin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Good post and good question. I've noticed a lot of variation myself. Deer are bright yellow, rabbits and some larger birds (e.g., a whippoorwill I keep seeing in almost the same spot in some woods practically every night) are glowing red. And---huge, piercing yellow eyes with large black pupils, that will send a chill down your spine---a Great Horned Owl.

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    Flashaholic* TOOCOOL's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Yes I have noticed this, I wonder if LED or Incans give a different color

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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    I just came back from a short walk in the nearby woods. I saw three deers, a rabbit and a fox (as well as few bats and fireflys) but I wouldn´t be able to determine which was which by the colour their eyes were reflecting.
    To be honest, I did not recognize any difference but I also did not pay attention if the colour was different or not.

    I don´t think that LED, HID or Incan would reflect their eyes in different colours, but in my experience incans reflect them much better than LED or HID.

    Eric
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    Flashaholic* Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    I find that reflective eyes are so much more visible with white LED light than with incan light. However, the LED spectral distribution is narrower than the incan one, particularly dropping red. A ranger once explained to me that I'd only have to fear mammals with red eyes. My concern then were mainly big cats. Maybe I should think twice abt using LEDs.

  6. #6
    Enlightened Kraeken's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    I recently took a few pictures of a racoon on my street one night. The reflection of the flash in his eyes was blue in one eye and yellow in the other.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Yes you can the color of eye shine to help identify animals. It is not an exact science, but biologists surveying nocturnal arboreal animals (or enthusiasts out spotlighting) will use eye shine color, along with other clues for identification. I've seen the method used to differentiate between three endemic possums (one had redish color, one a warm white and the other a cool white) here in the Australian wet tropics. I also have seen eye shine color used when spotlighting for herps to differentiate them from spiders and, in Central America, to differentiate crocodiles from caiman.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    I found the Gladius on strobe mode made deers eyes look like amber demonic doll eyes blinking. Lighting up a herd is even more strange looking. They don't seem to mind.

    If species and eye color correlate, one of these guys is an imposter. I'm betting the Cat-tle dog has some "fence jumping" in her blood line. Maybe it's the distant dingo cousins?

    Paladin

    I can't believe no one else posted weird eye beamshots yet!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    The Peterson Field guide to Mammals 3rd edition gives eyeshine colors.

    The vastly improved 4th edition doesn't.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* parnass's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Thanks for the responses.

    I will keep searching and trying to identify animals on my property. The sightings have dropped sharply after tilling the back field, cutting down the tall weeds in preparation for planting this year's crop.

  11. #11
    *Flashaholic* Flying Turtle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Here's a little eye shine from a visitor to my deck railing.



    Geoff

  12. #12
    Banned cutlerylover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paladin View Post


    I can't believe no one else posted weird eye beamshots yet!
    Here are my 2 dogs hanging aroudn their favorite chair after comming in from beign out in the rain playign around...the smaller one is Dillon, he has the same gold/orange eyes as your dog in that picture...He is still udner a year old, the one other one is Cody, he is 12 years old...My dogs are both Lhasa Apsos...this was taken before their haircuts...They are both usually shaved for the summer to keep cool...Great dogs, really funny sometimes, they act like guard dogs too, but we all know they couldn't protect the house, lol...but we don't tell them that...



    Just for the heck of it, here is a cute pic of them keeping warm in the winter, lol...


  13. #13
    Banned cutlerylover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Turtle View Post
    Here's a little eye shine from a visitor to my deck railing.



    Geoff
    Do you think he knows this guy? I went to throw out a bag of garbage to find this little guy checking out ym left overs, lol, he looked comfortable, so I just left him alone...


  14. #14

    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    hah gotta love an animal that stays still for pictures

    yea my dog did have that red eye problem:P they have a reflective layer behind their retina orsomething to enhance night vision. didnt know it could vary in color though. can your dog really fight off a coyote? a fence might be better if he can't.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    I found several dead possums in my empty garbage can. I had been on vacation. Hope that little guy made it out of there.

  16. #16
    Unenlightened
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Love this thread..
    so it's 1am, +15deg F in Colorado little wind from the west. The two dogs wanted outside. They start barking. So I step out in a warm robe with a high power led flashlight and start shining it around. We have alpacas here and so do the neighbors to the south, so I'm always interesting in what the dogs are barking at, especially at 1am. Shining the flashlight, I see a pair of eyes, appears to be white in color. I hold the flashlight on them for a few minutes, they move! Came back inside and continue to shine flashlight out kitchen window. The eyes continue to move. They are walking next the the neighbor's barn about 300 ft away. It appears to be small because it looks like it's close to the ground. But at 300' I could be wrong. I continue to watch out the kitchen window. I noticed the alpacas were up standing at the gates when I first went out. But are all laying down again. They are outside their shed, this weather doesn't bother them much. The dogs are back in and finally I'm not seeing anymore white eyes.
    There has been verified big cats (Mountain Lions) around here. But wouldn't think they're would be moving around much at +15 deg F. A stray cat might. Oh one other thing, the neighbor has those lights that come on when it senses movement. The lights didn't come on, Probably because the animal was hugging the side of the barn. I'll call and go over there in the morning and look for tracks. If there is one thing I am experienced with it's wildlife tracks. Perhaps we'll geta skiff of snow, that'll make the identification much easier if they're are still moving around after the snow. As I start to put down the flashlight, I shine it at one of our cats' eyes.. Yep, both stare back at me white. It was probably a stray cat. Let you know in the morning. Nighty-night. What color eyes are mtn lions?

  17. #17

    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by cutlerylover View Post
    Do you think he knows this guy? I went to throw out a bag of garbage to find this little guy checking out ym left overs, lol, he looked comfortable, so I just left him alone...

    Sneaky kittens...always closing their eyes when you're trying to shine a light at them.
    GOOD TINT!

  18. #18
    Flashaholic* KITROBASKIN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacaron View Post
    What color eyes are mtn lions?
    One I saw was a scary green. Another person I spoke with said red... Mysterious creatures indeed, and mostly silent, unlike the movies.

  19. #19

    Default Re: Identifying animals in the dark by the color of their eyes?

    Yes I can sometimes but it's hard to totally explain the differences. Deer is kinda greenish but color memory at night isn't that good. Another thing which is hard to explain.
    The TK20. Yes it still rocks.

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