Do Crocodiles Have Good Eyesight? Their Amazing Night Vision

The answer is yes! As we know, the crocodile species is an apex predator and their deadly strike force is the most powerful strike in the whole animal kingdom. So it’s no wonder we automatically associate crocodiles with having heightened senses. After all, you can’t be a top predator without having the best equipped senses to remain at the top of the food chain. So how good is a crocodiles eyesight, and do crocodiles have good eyesight?

Although not quite as good as human eyesight, crocodiles still have extremely good sight which is even better at night. A crocodile can see a full spectrum of colour, shades and shapes thanks to their multi-focal lenses. Their eyes have evolved throughout millions of years to be able to see shapes of objects and prey in complete darkness. Their eyes work in the same way human eyes work. Light which is reflected off an object passes through the eye lens and onto the retina. 

However crocodile eyes are way more sensitive than human eyes, and have evolved to be able to see the shapes and shades of objects in complete darkness. No matter what time of day or night, a crocodile can focus in on a specific object to see its main outline. Therefore being able to determine whether the object is a potential meal or not.

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Do Crocodiles Have Good Eyesight For Hunting?

The positioning of crocodile eyes is what gives them a massive advantage over their prey. Their eyes are positioned at the top of their heads, which means they can stay fully submerged underwater, staying out of view from potential prey. 

Mammals usually have a circular Fovea which is located in the centre of the retina. This means that mammals can only focus their eyes directly on a pinpoint area. For example, it you are staring at an object, your vision is focused on that particular object. Although you can still see what else is around it, the focus is pinpointed to that singular position. This is where a crocodiles Fovea is different. Crocodile eyes are well equipped for hunting as they contain horizontal receptor Fovea, which is spread across the middle of the retina. Having horizontal receptors means that crocodiles have an amazing scope of sight which extends along the visual horizon. They can can focus along the whole horizon, where as humans can only focus on one spot.

Another difference crocodiles have which gives them an advantage when hunting is the fact they can change from short-sighted to long-sighted on demand. Many humans suffer from either long or short sighted vision, which means they commonly need glasses to rectify this imbalance. Crocodiles have the ability to change their eyesight distance as they please, meaning they can see potential prey perfectly from long distances away, too right up close, just before they strike.

You have to remember that crocodiles are one of the best hunters in the animal world. They are huge reptiles which rely on their stealth to get within inches of their prey before they strike. The slightest of movements or twitches will undoubtably scare off any potential prey, so their eyes have to stay completely still throughout the hunting process. Their eyes scan the horizon to locate their prey. They can see left to right, up and down without needing to move their eyes like humans do.

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Retracting Eyeballs

When a crocodile is hunting or fighting, it has a unique way to protect its eyes from any damage. Crocodiles rely heavily on their eyesight to hunt. Without their eyesight, crocodiles would struggle to catch prey and locate potential threats. 

However, when a situation arises when a crocodile feels it needs to protect its eyes, they can retract their eyeballs into their sockets. This enables extra protection against any scratches, gouges, or bites. This is why its very uncommon to see a crocodile with only one eye. If so, then they have been very unlucky when fighting.

Do Crocodiles Have Good Eyesight At Night? 

Have you ever wondered why crocodile eyes seem to shine bright at night when a light is shined towards them? No. Well you should. The reason this happens is because of their complex retina which has the ability to switch to night vision mode when it gets dark.

At the back of each complex crocodile retina are microscopic crystals. These microscopic crystals contain even smaller reflective mirrors, which are responsible for relaying the incoming light throughout the day. When night falls, the pigments cells which make this possible begin to power down. At the point where darkness falls, the crocodile eye will switch. During night time hours the crystal plates reflect light back onto the retina, which then intensifies the darker imagines which they are focusing on. In a less complex way, it’s like crocodiles have their very own, built in torches, which shines light which only they can see.

The result of this means that when a light is shined directly into a crocodiles at night, their eyes will illuminate back at you, like the reflection of a high-visibility jacket. This gives a crocodile the upper hand when hunting at night as they can see just as well during the darkest hours as they can during the lightest hours.

Do Crocodiles Have Good Eyesight Underwater?

Living in murky, muddy water, it’s hard to believe that crocodiles can see anything when submerged underwater. Well you better start believing because a crocodiles eyesight is still very good underwater. 

But why you ask? All thanks to their eyelids.

Crocodiles actually have 3 eyelids, because 2 simply isn’t enough. They have thick, reinforced upper eyelids which protect them against any aggressive attacks or fights. The upper eyelids are hard, just like the scales on a crocodiles back. They protect the eye from sunlight and any prey which decided to fight back.

The lower eyelid’s only real function is to secure or sandwich the third eyelid in place. The reason crocodiles have 3 eyelids is because they need some form of protection from the murky waters in which it lives. 

To some effect, crocodile have their very own, built-in googles. The third eyelid is in the form of a clear membrane, which covers the face of a crocodiles eye, acting as a pair of goggles. The transparent film membrane allows a crocodile to keep its eyes open under water, without getting any dirt into their actual eye. This means that crocodiles have the ability to see just as well underwater as they do above the water. Of course this does depend on how mirky or muddy the water is which they’re swimming.  

Do Crocodile Have Good Eyesight – Fun Facts

Sleeping With One Eye Open

Did you know that crocodiles sleep with one eye open to protect them from any potential threats in their environment. They’re able to do this due to ‘Unihemisheric Sleeping’. Unihemispheric sleep occurs when one side of the brain remains awake whilst the other side rests in a state of sleep. Then, when the time comes, the brain swaps sides, so the other side of the brain now rests whilst the other stays awake. 

This means that crocodiles can rest both sides of their brains equally throughout different times of the day, whilst staying completely vigilant of their surroundings. Impressive right.

Impressive Zoom

Amazingly crocodiles can zoom in on an object of interest. Think of a crocodiles eyesight like a camera. It can zoom in and out until it gets the best possible picture of the desired object. This gives a crocodile the upper hand when hunting as it can distinguish prey from far distances without disturbing it prior to an attack. 

Eye Position Optical Illusion 

If you are brave enough to stand in front of a crocodile, then you would see that it will be staring straight back at you. Crocodiles have eyes that can appear to be both on the top of their heads facing forward, as well as facing the side. Crocodiles have to ability to slide their eyes from a forward facing position, to a side ways facing position.

Very strange.

Crocodile Tears Are Real 

Another strange fact is that crocodiles eyesight becomes very blurred when eating. When crocodiles eat, they swallow a lot of air in the process. The air squeezes passed water glands, which in turn pushes out water from their eyes. This forms crocodile tears which blur vision whilst eating.

This is why when children don’t get their own way and force themselves to cry, we call it ‘Crocodile Tears’. 


Well there we have it, everything you need to know on ‘Do crocodiles have good eyesight’. 

The answer is yes. Crocodiles have very good eyesight, which is even heightened at night. Due to their eyes containing horizontal receptors called Fovea, crocodiles are able to focus on a panoramic view, instead of a focal point like humans do. They can scan horizons and see perfectly all the way across, which gives them the upper hand when looking for prey.

Crocodile eyes can retain light pigments, then reflect the light back out when it gets dark. This almost acts as an invisible torch for each individual crocodile. This is why, when light is shined into a crocodiles eyes at night, they seem to glow brightly. 

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Do Crocodiles Have Good Eyesight? Their Amazing Night Vision

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