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10 Interesting Small-Eyed Animals

In a world where many creatures boast large, expressive eyes, there exists a fascinating group that breaks the mold. Small-eyed animals, often overlooked in the realm of charismatic mega-fauna, offer a testament to nature’s varied solutions to environmental challenges.

Whether as a result of nocturnal habits, subterranean lifestyles, or other evolutionary pressures, these animals have thrived with smaller ocular equipment. Join us as we shed light on the lifestyles and adaptations of these uniquely-eyed creatures.

10 Animals With Small Eyes


Animals with small eyes - Mole
  • Scientific Name: Talpidae (family name as there are various species of moles)
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Where Found: Various regions worldwide, particularly in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Moles are the quintessential small-eyed animals. Adapted to a life underground, these burrowing mammals have eyes that are not only small but also often concealed by fur and skin.

Moles’ eyes serve limited functionality, as their primary navigational tools are their acute sense of touch and powerful front limbs for digging. Living in almost complete darkness, they’ve evolved to prioritize tactile and auditory senses over vision.

Did you know? Moles can dig approximately 18 feet in an hour. Their tunnels are not just homes but also act as traps for their prey, such as worms and insects.


Animals with small eyes - KiwiSource: Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Apteryx spp.
  • Type of Animal: Bird
  • Where Found: New Zealand.

The Kiwi, a flightless bird native to New Zealand, is an anomaly in the avian world with its small eyes and nocturnal habits. Possessing poor vision, kiwis mainly rely on their keen sense of smell and long, sensitive bills to find invertebrates in the soil.

Their eyes, though small, have a high proportion of rod cells, which can detect low levels of light, aiding them during nighttime foraging.

Did you know? Despite being a bird, the Kiwi has nostrils at the tip of its beak, which is unusual in the avian world. This unique feature enhances its ability to smell food in the dark.

Blind Cavefish

Animals with small eyes - Blind CavefishSource: Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Astyanax mexicanus
  • Type of Animal: Fish
  • Where Found: Caves in northeastern Mexico.

Venture into the dark, submerged caves of Mexico, and you might come across the Blind Cavefish, a fish that’s adapted to life in total darkness. Over generations, these fish lost their pigmentation and their eyes became rudimentary.

What they lack in sight, they make up for with enhanced lateral lines – sensitive organs that detect water movements – allowing them to navigate and find food in pitch-black environments.

Did you know? The Blind Cavefish’s ancestors had eyes. However, as they adapted to the cave environment, the eyes became a metabolic cost without a benefit, leading to their eventual reduction.

Naked Mole Rat

Animals with small eyes - Naked Mole Rat
  • Scientific Name: Heterocephalus glaber
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Where Found: East Africa, particularly in parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

Despite its somewhat comical appearance, the Naked Mole Rat is an evolutionary wonder. This nearly hairless rodent lives in underground colonies led by a single breeding female.

Its small, bead-like eyes are indicative of a creature that has evolved primarily for life in the dark. These eyes offer limited vision, and the mole rat primarily relies on its tactile whiskers and acute hearing to navigate its intricate burrow systems.

Did you know? Naked Mole Rats are one of the few eusocial mammals, meaning they have a caste system within their colonies similar to bees or ants, with workers, soldiers, and a queen.

Australian Mole Cricket

Animals with small eyes - Australian Mole CricketSource: Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Gryllotalpa pluvialis
  • Type of Animal: Insect
  • Where Found: Various parts of Australia.

Resembling a fusion of a cricket and a mole, the Australian Mole Cricket is a burrowing insect known for its sturdy digging limbs and tiny eyes.

Living mostly underground, its eyes have diminished in size and function. Instead of relying on sight, it utilizes its long antennae to sense its environment and find its way around.

Did you know? Mole Crickets are capable of flight! On humid nights, they can take to the skies in search of mates, displaying an unexpected aerial ability.

Spiny Dogfish Shark

Animals with small eyes - Spiny Dogfish Shark
  • Scientific Name: Squalus acanthias
  • Type of Animal: Fish
  • Where Found: Worldwide, especially in temperate seas.

While many sharks boast large, ominous eyes, the Spiny Dogfish Shark breaks the mold with its smaller peepers. Found in the cooler waters around the globe, this small shark has eyes that appear diminished, especially when compared to its larger cousins.

Nonetheless, they are perfectly adapted to their deep-sea habitat, providing just the right amount of vision required for their hunting expeditions.

Did you know? The “spiny” in its name comes from the two venomous spines found just in front of each dorsal fin, which can deliver a painful sting to potential predators.

Hispaniolan Solenodon

Animals with small eyes - Hispaniolan SolenodonSource: Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientific Name: Solenodon paradoxus
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Where Found: Island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The Hispaniolan Solenodon is a curious-looking nocturnal mammal. With a shaggy coat, elongated snout, and small eyes, it looks as if it’s stepped straight out of prehistory. It’s one of the few venomous mammals in existence.

Its eyes, though small, are adapted to capture as much light as possible in low-light conditions, aiding it during its nighttime forays.

Did you know? The Solenodon’s venom is delivered through grooves in the lower two incisors, a feature it shares with only a handful of other mammals.

Slow Worm

Animals with small eyes - Slow Worm
  • Scientific Name: Anguis fragilis
  • Type of Animal: Reptile
  • Where Found: Europe and parts of Asia.

Although it might look like a snake, the Slow Worm is, in fact, a legless lizard. These creatures prefer a life beneath the ground, hiding under stones, logs, and leaves.

Their small eyes suit their reclusive nature and provide just enough vision for them to navigate their environment and detect potential threats.

Did you know? Unlike snakes, Slow Worms have the ability to blink and have a detachable tail which they can shed to escape predators.


Animals with small eyes - Pangolin
  • Scientific Name: Pholidota (Order name as there are various species of pangolins)
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Where Found: Africa and Asia.

The Pangolin, often described as a ‘walking pinecone’ due to its distinctive armored scales, has small eyes that can appear almost overshadowed by its unique appearance.

These creatures are primarily nocturnal and rely more on their keen sense of smell and hearing to locate ants and termites, their primary food source.

Did you know? Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world. Their scales are sought after for traditional medicine and their meat is considered a delicacy in some cultures.


Animals with small eyes - Bats
  • Scientific Name: Chiroptera (Order name as there are various species of bats)
  • Type of Animal: Mammal
  • Where Found: Almost everywhere, excluding extreme desert and polar environments.

Bats, the only true flying mammals, have eyes that can appear quite small compared to their body size. Many species of bats rely heavily on echolocation to navigate and hunt, making their eyes secondary in importance.

However, their vision isn’t non-existent; in fact, some bats can see quite well in dim light.

Did you know? Contrary to popular belief, not all bats are blind. Some species, especially fruit bats or flying foxes, have relatively good vision, especially at dusk.

Why Do Some Animals Have Small Eyes?

The size and functionality of an animal’s eyes are typically a direct result of evolutionary pressures and their ecological niche. For animals with small eyes, several factors might come into play.

First, life in environments with minimal light, such as underground burrows or the deep sea, diminishes the need for large, light-gathering eyes. In such habitats, other senses, like touch or hearing, often take precedence, and eyes may reduce in size or function.

Additionally, smaller eyes can be an advantage for creatures that need to remain inconspicuous or reduce body parts that might be vulnerable to injury or predation. Over countless generations, as animals adapt to specific lifestyles or environments, their physical features, including eye size, fine-tune to offer the greatest advantage for survival and reproduction.

In essence, while big eyes often capture our attention, the world of small-eyed animals reminds us of nature’s infinite ability to adapt and optimize.

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