Eye Sight

Note: Much of the information here also applies to the lion and several of the images used in this display belong to that felid.

Binocular vision:

A tiger's eyes are the brightest of any animal and the way they bulge gives a wide angle view. Evolution has seen the cat develop the most accurate binocular vision of all carnivores; this is so good it is almost on a par with that of man.

Despite all this, great difficulty may be experienced in seeing stationary objects, particularly if the cat is in moonlight and the prey animal lying in shadow. A calf that is only five metres away may well be invisible unless it moves, though only an ear twitch is required for detection.

Fortunately for the tiger, but unfortunately for prey species, in the presence of a prowling cat other animals tend to become nervous and start to move, drawing attention to themselves.

Colour vision in tigers:

Rods and cones are light-receptive cells in the eye. The more cones, the better the colour vision. The more rods, the better the low-light vision, but these are of no use for seeing in colour. The eyes of cats contain primarily rods.

Tigers have circular pupils and yellow irises (white tigers have blue irises). Due to the lack of cones in the eye these see depth rather than colour. There is some debate about how much colour tigers can actually see. Until recent times it was considered that felids were colourblind, but it has now been established that green, blue and yellow may be recognised, along with various shades of grey.

Pupil shape:

One way of telling small cats from big cats is the shape of the pupil. Big cats have very obviously round pupils, but small cats tend to display narrow, vertical slits. There are occasional exceptions to this and the lynx is one of them.

At night, some experts are able to differentiate between one animal and another from a glimpse of their eyes beneath a spotlight. They observe the following:

    • pupil spacing
    • pupil size
    • pupil height

    For instance, there are people who would be able to identify that the two bright spots shown below belong to a bobcat.

    Hunters often go out at night at night when the eyes of nocturnal animals show clearly under a torch so making them easy to locate.

     (Continued Page 2)


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Photography With Thanks To Tiger Touch
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