Do Wolves Have Night Vision? Superpower?

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Wolves have some of the most amazing night vision in the Animal Kingdom. They can hunt their prey very successfully through the night using this amazing superpower.

Super Predators: Do Wolves Have Night Vision?

Many animals have evolved to hunt at night – like owls, wild cats, and hedgehogs – and to do so they have evolved some of the most efficient light-capturing eyes.

This elite group of specialist night hunters also contains wolves (Canis lupus) – and their eyeballs have more than one feature to help them stalk their prey at night:

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Tapetum Lucidum:

This amazing adaptation is quite simply a light-reflecting sheet. Set at the back of the eyeball – this highly reflective layer catches the light coming into the eye (from the front) and sends it straight back out. Not only does this make their eyes glow up at night – but it also doubles the light they are seeing in the first place. This means that what everyone else sees (i.e. their prey) is Level 1 – but wolves (with the reflected light) get a bit brighter – notching them to Level 2 or 3 depending on the moon. This means – quite cleverly – that wolves can always see better at night than their prey. Bonus.

Peripheral Vision:

Not only can they see more at night than other animals – they can detect it moving much better and react to it faster. Usually catching sight of something in the corner of your eye is often a missed opportunity. By the time you turn around to see what it was – it has gone. Not with wolves. The edges of their retina pick up even the teeniest of movements, allowing them to react to changes in their prey’s movements that split-second faster – even in low light. Usually with eyes – like with humans – the best vision is always in the center of the retina, so this is a huge advantage.

Accepting Low Focus:

Due to the above adaptations – they had to forfeit something else: it was a clear focus. During the day they can see things close up very well indeed – but at night they lose that focus. The image the eyes create is less clear as a result. However, it hasn’t hindered the wolves and they are still incredibly successful hunters – being 1 of the top 10 most successful mammal hunters after big cats and wild dogs.

Do Wolves’ Eyes Glow In The Dark?

When you are out at night and shining a torch – you often get a pair of eyes staring back at you. Depending on the color of those glow-in-the-dark eyes – and where you are – you can often tell what animal it is. Wolves’ eyes glow back at you in green – like most dogs – although it can vary from blue to yellow. Cats and bears are more often yellow and crocodiles are bright red.

Their glowing eyes don’t actually mean that their eyeballs emit light. The bright color is just the reflection of your own torch – the eyes are not actually creating that brightness. All that is happening in the light from your torch is doubling back in the eye (because of the tapetum lucidum) and making everything twice as bright for the wolf.

If they could generate their own light from their eyes – they wouldn’t need the tapetum to reflect anything – they would just switch on their own eye torches!

Will Wolves Attack Humans At Night?

Like in most horror movies – being stalked at night is the most frightening thing. However, wolves can see just as well during the day – and are happy to hunt then. Thankfully either way – they don’t make a habit of attacking humans – normally they stay well away.

However, there are a few reported cases of wolf attacks in North America every year – often during the day. Many are lone wolves who stalk a walker or lone worker, most likely due to being alone in the first place. Wolves are pack hunters and so not having – or being excluded from – a pack can mean that wolves are not only hungry but forced to the edges of their normal habitat and into close contact with humans.

If a wolf DID want to hunt you at night – it could hear you from over 6 miles away. They don’t just have great eyesight these wolves…

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