These 14 Animals Have the World's Largest Eyes

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key point:
  • Dogs have large, especially expressive eyes. While pugs are generally the breed with the largest eyes, the dog with the largest eyes in the world is a Boston terrier named Bruschi.
  • The owl is a nocturnal animal with better night vision than cats, and the great gray owl has better eyesight than any other nocturnal animal. Owls cannot move their eyes, so must turn their heads to see anything that is not directly in front of them.
  • Ostriches have eyes the size of billiard balls and can see objects up to two miles away during the day. Ironically, ostriches have smaller brains than eyeballs.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. But when we say we include animals?

As our list of animals with the largest eyes in the world shows, maybe we should include wild animals too. Domestic pets like dogs and cats have an amazing way of letting us know how they're feeling just by looking at our faces. Who looks the other way when being watched by a giant squid?

The human fascination with the concept of eye contact is fascinating. We believe eyes can tell a lot about a person. We believe our eyes are a strong indicator of confidence, shyness, curiosity, anger, frustration, and more.

We say animals do the same thing. Let's take a quick look at 14 animals known for their big eyes.

#14 Animal with the Largest Eyes: The Tree Frog

These 14 Animals Have the World's Largest Eyes 1
The tree frog scares away predators with its large red eyes.

©Dynamicfoto/Shutterstock.com

Talk about your big eyes! The eyes of tree frogs protrude from their heads, giving them a bulging, almost alien stance. This feature is actually a defense mechanism. It's called "fright color". If a tree frog closes its eyes, the eyelids become as integrated into their dense ecosystem as their body. The frog will open its eyes if a predator approaches. The striking movement of the large eyes paralyzes a predator, if only temporarily. In that split second, this action gives the animal a chance to escape.

#13 Animal with the Largest Eyes: The Sphynx

The eyes of Sphynx kittens usually open within three days of birth, a rare trait in the feline world, and some kittens are even born with their eyes open.

©Sylvie Corriveau/Shutterstock.com

Generally, felines are considered to have large eyes. The sphinx cat proves it. They are almost hairless, and their eyes are full of charm. Sphinxes don't have eyelashes. This means felines have no protection against airborne debris. But they do produce a secretion that acts as a moisturizer and cleanser. They groom themselves, but leave a trail of discharge. The owner must then carefully clean any residue around the area using a soft, lint-free towel and warm water. Do not use chemicals of any kind. Not only are you likely to get them in your eyes, but the cat may lick it off.

#12 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Swordfish

Like other sea creatures such as mako sharks, swordfish use eye heating for their keen vision.

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Sailfish eyes are the size of softballs. Swordfish use eye heating to provide excellent vision. It helps them catch fast-moving prey. Swordfish have a dedicated organ for generating heat. This makes the eye at least 10 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature in the surrounding water. Other marine animals that use eye heating are tuna and certain species of sharks. The heating process also includes the animal's brain. Research shows that bony fish such as swordfish use this adaptation to prevent eye defects caused by unexpected and rapid changes in water temperature. These conditions can pose a threat to the animal's nervous system.

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#11 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Chameleon

The chameleon's eyes provide a 360-degree view.

©Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock.com

Chameleons aren't just masters of camouflage; they have the most colorful eyes of any animal. Their eyes have multiple layers of skin. Like their ability to change skin color, eye function helps them blend in with their environment to avoid danger. Chameleons can move their eyes 360 degrees. The animal can also switch vision between binocular and monocular. This feature allows them to view a scene with both eyes or form two images, one for each eye.

#10 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Horsfield Tarsier

Nocturnal Horsfield tarsiers have larger eyes than brains.

©Ryan M. Bolton/Shutterstock.com

Found in the lowland jungles of Southeast Asia, these creatures have two giant eyes on their small bodies. The Horsfield tarsier is a relatively small and relatively unknown species. In the mammalian world, the tarsier has the largest eyes relative to its size. Each eye is the same volume as the animal's brain. Primates are small, furry animals with slender limbs. But what they lack in size they make up for with quickness and keen senses. At night, tarsiers hunt for food by capturing sounds using their thin eardrums. Tarsiers also have amazing leaping, leaping and climbing skills.

#9 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Giant Squid

The giant squid has huge eyes that help it find prey in the dark depths of the ocean.

©Rui Palma/Shutterstock.com

The giant squid is one of the largest animals in the world. It is located in the deepest body of water in Antarctica. Besides its eyes, the creature has other unique attributes, including the fact that it is the largest invertebrate on Earth. It's even bigger than the largest whale in the animal kingdom. (Sperm whales in squid roost are scarred from battles with giant squid.) Giant squid have their eyes pointed forward so they can see the appropriate distance. In the low light at depth, they can spot food and predators. Each eye is about the size of a football.

#8 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Rabbit

Rabbits have large eyes on both sides of their heads, which allow them to spot predators from both sides. Rabbits also often have farsightedness, which allows them to see predators approaching from a distance.

© Borievky/Shutterstock.com

Rabbit eyes come in a variety of colors, but tend to be dark. Albino rabbits, on the other hand, always have red eyes. Not only do rabbits have large eyes compared to their size, but their eyes give them some fascinating abilities. First, the eyes are located on the sides of the head. This provides the animal with a panoramic view. Without turning their heads, they can see 360 degrees, including overhead. Believe it or not, the only blind spot is right in front of them. But their sense of smell and whiskers more than make up for that. Rabbits also sleep with their eyes open. They only turn them off when they feel safe in the ecosystem.

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#7 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Dog

Unlike humans, dogs have a membrane that acts as a third eyelid to protect their eyes.

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When we say puppy eyes, we mean that sad, curious, wide-eyed gaze that many dog lovers can't resist. Studies have shown that dogs' eyes are usually the same size as people's. Only the diameter of the cornea is larger, resulting in a larger iris. This feature enables your dog to create those incredibly expressive gazes. They also have the tapetum – the layer in the eye that reflects light. It makes the dog's eyes sparkle at night.

Pugs typically have the largest eyes of any breed. However, the Guinness Book of World Records for having the world's largest eyes is a Boston terrier named Bluesky.

#6 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Lemur

Animals with big eyes - lemurs
Like dogs, lemurs have a tapetum.

©Jearu/Shutterstock.com

Eye size is determined scientifically based on its relationship to head size. Lemurs have small snouts and a small body mass, which makes their eyes appear large. While typical creatures have bold yellow eyes, many have shades of blue. There is also a new species with round and black eyes. Lemurs are highly social animals, living in packs, each on the lookout for predators. Species of lemurs can be diurnal or nocturnal.

#5 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Owl

Owls have extensive binocular vision, allowing them to see in three dimensions and measure distances.

©RHJPhototoandilstration/Shutterstock.com

Owls have very large eyes. Nocturnal, owls can see well in very low light. This is one of the great advantages of hunting. But, as some rumors have it, owls cannot see in the complete absence of visible light. Owls are the only animals with better night vision than felines. The great gray owl has huge black pupils, which allow it to see better than any other nocturnal animal. Another fascinating thing about owl eyes is that the creature cannot move them. They can only see directly in front of them at all times. The owl has to turn its head to see both sides.

#4 Animal with the Largest Eyes: The Pygmy Marmoset

The pygmy marmoset is the smallest marmoset, but it sure has big eyes!

©donikz/Shutterstock.com

In the forests of South America, the pygmy marmoset moves like a squirrel, galloping, running and freezing in its environment. Classified as finger monkeys or mini monkeys, the creatures have keen eyesight to spot predators and food. When you look at marmosets, you can see that the eyes on their faces are wider than they are big. These animals are highly expressive, using their eyes and fur to create expressions of fear, surprise and playfulness.

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#3 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Ostrich

Ostriches have the largest eyes of any bird in the world.

©Allexxandar/Shutterstock.com

Ostriches have the largest eyes of any land animal. The eyes are two inches in diameter, making their eyes about the size of a billiard ball and five times the size of a human. Because of Mother Nature's tendency to balance things out, the eyes take up so much room in the head that ostriches have smaller brains than eyeballs. This bird can spot objects as far as two miles away during the day. Keen eyesight protects ostriches from predators. Since they can move at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour, spotting enemies early will give the ostriches a head start!

#2 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Zebra Black Spider

Zebra black spiders have excellent binocular vision.

©Mario.Pieper/Shutterstock.com

The zebra black spider is one of the smallest animals on earth. It is stocky with short legs and a black body with white stripes. Zebra spiders have large eyes compared to the rest of their body. They are the biggest thing on the face and are often completely dark. Now, we need to note that this spider actually has eight eyes. The main ones – the large ones – are located at the front of the head and provide binocular vision. The other six eyes are located on one side of the head, allowing the critter to see its surroundings in 360 degrees.

#1 Animal with the Largest Eyes: Slow Lorises

Lorises have large, round eyes and are nocturnal hunters.

© kunanon/Shutterstock.com

Lorises have large, puffy, saucer-shaped eyes and sit atop a small face. Don't let the book cover fool you. They look like the cutest stuffed animals, but can be dangerous to bite. Their venom causes the flesh to rot. The biggest victims of their bites are other slow lorises, new research suggests. But these animals don't have to be dangerous. Their movements are deliberate and slow. When threatened, they are more likely to hold still and wait out the danger to pass.

Summary of 14 animals with the largest eyes in the world

Here's a recap of the animals that caught our attention for having the biggest eyes:

rank animal
1 Loris
2 zebra black spider
3 ostrich
4 pygmy marmoset
5 owl
6 lemur
7 dog
8 rabbit
9 giant squid
10 Horsfield's tarsier
11 chameleon
12 swordfish
13 sphynx cat
14 tree frog

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featured image

Animals with big eyes - pygmy marmosets
The pygmy marmoset is the smallest marmoset, but it sure has big eyes!

© donikz/Shutterstock.com


about the author

Heather Hall


I'm a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by nature. When I do my daily runs, I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I have two dogs that take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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