Visual senses are an integral factor in an animal’s survival. The eyes are the primary sense organs and have a retina that contains various cone cells with visual pigment for color perception. These pigments are highly specific and respond to only a narrow range of wavelengths, respectively.
Ultraviolet light lies ahead of the visual spectrum and has quite a short wavelength. Throughout evolution, many animals have developed ways to perceive Ultraviolet light and reap its benefits of it.
Among the plethora of animals that can see Ultraviolet light, it has always remained a question as to which animals do Ultraviolet perception works best.
Top 10+ Animals that can see Ultraviolet Light
Some fishes have the capability to perceive ultraviolet light that helps them to navigate in the deep sea.
Recently, researchers have found out that the Japanese dace fish, carp, common goldfish, and some other fish have UV-absorbing cone cells that enable them to see wavelengths down to 360 nm.
Not only this, but many other predator fish can also see ultraviolet light naturally.
The only living relative of the Giraffe, Okapis, better known as the “forest giraffe,” inhabit the Central African Rainforests. Okapis have lenses that transmit Ultraviolet short-wavelength light, which proves that they can see in Ultraviolet light.
They do not have the Short Wavelength Sensitive Class 1 (SWSC1) pigment, but in its place, they have an ocular media which helps in transmitting Ultraviolet light to a substantial extent.
Though not adept in terms of visual senses, studies have shown that Hedgehogs might possess the ability to see Ultraviolet light. This is based on the fact that their lenses transmit Ultraviolet light, which goes on to prove that Hedgehogs might be able to perceive UV.
Their Ultraviolet vision might not be as efficient as other animals on this list, like birds or butterflies, as they lack the pigment responsible for Ultraviolet vision.
You may not believe it, but even rats possess the ability to see Ultraviolet light to quite an extent. Rats have two sets of cones in their retina, one that helps them to perceive Ultraviolet Light with the help of the pigment SWSC1.
The other cone serves in visual light perception (M cones that perceive light with a medium wavelength of the visual spectrum). The use of Ultraviolet perception is not well-established in rats.
However, in utmost probability, it aids the animal in locating urine trails, which are visible under Ultraviolet Light.
Next up on our list of animals that can see Ultraviolet light, we have dogs. Ultraviolet vision in dogs serves almost the same function as in cats. Dogs share this ability with other members of their family, who are predatory.
UV light helps them to see territorial marks marked by other individuals and also to spot urine trails by other animals. This, along with their heightened sense of smell, helps them to track their prey.
For animals like wolves and coyotes, the snow and white fur creatures like rabbits emit UV, which helps them to spot their prey.
Another mammal on our list with the ability to see Ultraviolet light is the cat. Research has shown that though not quite efficient, cats can see UV light to quite an extent. This ability helps them greatly, especially in surviving in the wilderness.
Cats are predatory animals and need to hunt for food when in the wild. Animals, like rabbits with white fur, reflect UV light which is perceived by cats on the hunt.
Another aspect might be those body fluids like urine, semen, etc., are visible quite distinctively in UV. Cats and other members of their family use urine to demarcate areas. Their UV vision comes in handy, especially in seeing their territorial demarcations.
Despite having a narrow spectrum of color visibility, Ferrets are among those animals that can see Ultraviolet light. Ferrets have lenses capable of reflecting UV, along with an ocular media that further makes their vision Ultraviolet sensitive.
The primary use of UV vision in ferrets is to give a better vision to prevent bumping into objects lying on the ground.
4) Arctic Reindeer
Among the extremely narrow spectrum of animals that can see Ultraviolet light, the Reindeer is one of them. Reindeer reside in the ice-capped Arctic and Tundra regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
Their ability to perceive Ultraviolet light is highly essential for their survival in their environment. Reindeer mainly feed on lichens, which reflect UV light and which, when perceived by them, help them to locate food.
Wolves, who are apex predators in the region, and mainly hunt Reindeer, have fur, which reflects UV light and helps Reindeer to locate them from a great distance. Hence, Reindeer’s Ultraviolet perception helps them to locate food as well as protect them from predators.
Bees are nectar-sucking insects that travel from flower to flower to collect nectar. The plants benefit from this habit greatly as they get pollinated in exchange.
The flowers have various patterns on them, which are visible only in Ultraviolet light. Bees, since they can perceive Ultraviolet light, can easily spot these flowers and can then suck nectar and pollinate them in return.
Butterflies are capable of doing both, Ultraviolet emission and Ultraviolet perception. They play a crucial role in nature in the pollination of plants.
Butterflies depend greatly on plants that emit Ultraviolet light, as they use a large amount of nectar to attract these insects.
The wings of butterflies have scales, which like many other colors, reflect Ultraviolet light. Butterflies use this UV for communication like danger signaling.
Female butterflies emit UV from their wings, the pattern of which is perceived by males, who then begin their regular courtship rituals during mating.
Among the many animals that can see Ultraviolet Light, Birds occupy a special position. Apart from the three cones that help them to perceive the light of several colors, they have an additional fourth cone, which enables them to see Ultraviolet Light.
Birds are sexually dimorphic creatures and resort to several modes of attraction during mating. Birds have feathers that are UV reflective.
These act as signals for other birds or also help in gender identification. Their ability to see Ultraviolet light helps them forage for food like insects and makes them agile in dense vegetation.
This is where we conclude our article. Top 10+ animals that see ultraviolet light. We also have several individual articles about the eyesight of several animals. So until we return with another information-filled article, you can glance over them as well.
Monty is a founder of How It See. Being a life science student in a reputed university, he always wonders about an eclectic correlation between science and nature. After engaging in various college projects, Monty determined to share all his knowledge with you as a writer. In the meantime, he loves to research and study about the various types of colorful animals.