Night vision pictures of animals can bring out a side of those furry, funny creatures that we may not like but which can never be unseen. Compared to many animals, human beings have poor night vision. Our eyes just don't have receptors with enough spectral or intensity range to make out what's going on in low-light conditions. For thousands of years, we had only our imaginations to rely on when it came to figuring out what was going on when the sun went down; before there were street lights, we had only the light of the moon to keep the darkness at bay. It's only natural that human beings are, in general, afraid of the dark. It turns out we've been right to be afraid.
Nowadays, we not only have lights everywhere, but we also have night-vision technology to even out that playing field and give us what Mother Nature forgot. Now, we can see what goes on anywhere, anytime, but the kicker is, sometimes, what we find is downright disturbing.
From familiar creatures who turn into alarmingly demonic beings with awe-inspiring displays of strength and ferocity to strange and inexplicable rituals that the human mind simply can't fathom, it turns out our animal friends may not be who we think they are. At all. Here's a look at night-vision images that will keep you awake at night. Keep the lights on, friends.
15 The Eerie Trash Panda
The common raccoon, Procyon lotor, trash panda or whatever you call them -- the masked critter that's native to North America -- is undeniably cute. We're guessing that's why they have so many human supporters, even as they prepare for their final takeover of the world, and like it or not, they've got the advantage. They can live in the city, the countryside, or in the forest. They can eat literally anything. Their nimble little fingers and evil little minds can get into virtually any enclosure if you give them long enough. They're using your automatic garage door when you're at work and breaking into bakeries to steal donuts. We've all seen the vids. They're fiendishly smart, and they're also one of the very few animals on the planet whose numbers have actually increased with the coming of human civilization. They thrive on living in our environments -- there are estimates that for every 1 raccoon in a rural location, there are 50 in some urban areas. So, watch out for your cute little neighborhood bandit; we think he's out to take over.
14 Deer Rituals #1
Deer, with their large eyes, soft brown coat, and graceful bodies and gait, seem like such gentle creatures. On TV, we largely see them innocently grazing in the woods or running away from dangers real and imagined when anyone or anything passes by too closely. On Youtube, they frolic with bunnies, and snuggle up with purring cats. Who could portray wide-eyed innocence quite as effectively as a Bambi or Rudolph? But, it’s all a mask. When night falls, we humans go to sleep or stay in our indoor environments, and apparently, all hell – as in, literally – breaks loose. This deer is obviously undergoing some kind of initiation rite that may involve devil’s spawn while the other three perform shamanistic rituals around it. A new god or goddess of the forest is being anointed while the unknowing human populace sleeps.
13 Lions On The Hunt
There are some sights that, however beautiful and breathtaking, you should never wish to see. The sight of lionesses hunting in the middle of the night is definitely one of them. These ladies are hunting for real, and the lack of light gives them a ghostly presence that makes them even scarier. In the sub-Saharan African plains and forests where lions roam, daytime temperatures make hunting a risky proposition. For the biggest of the cats, a large part of the day -- up to 20 hours -- is spent more or less sleeping. It's about conservation of energy. It takes a lot to keep their large, muscular bodies fueled, which may be why hunting is the task of the smaller, sleeker female rather than the huge male of the species. It’s also why they hunt their prey at night by the light of the moon.
12 Ghostly Howling Wolves
There's a lot of evidence that should tell us to just stay away from the woods. Doesn’t every fairy tale involve something bad happening in the woods? That was our ancestors trying to tell us something. In the northern wooded areas of the world, there are wolves, and if you ever come across a pack of them howling to the moon in the woods at night, you should enjoy the moment to its fullest, because it’s likely to be among your last. What big teeth you have – totally! Wolves are the glue that holds the forest together. In their role as an apex predator, they're living population control to grazing animals, and this has a direct effect on things like vegetation and even the landscape itself. So, all hail the wolf. And we're staying out of the forest.
11 The Quick Brown Fox
In those Youtube videos, foxes are cute and cuddly. They're rescued as orphans in the wild or from a fur farm. The adorable critters sleep in their humans' laps and snuggle with their rescuers in loving gratitude. But maybe, there’s a darker side to these red-haired vixens. At night, they roam about, letting out their eerie yet characteristic high-pitched yips, their eyes glowing with a demonic fire. Quite frankly, this one looks as if it had been possessed by a demon. You'll find some foxes in urban areas, living in areas such as under a porch or in a yard where there are piles of drywall sheets or wood that they can nest under. All that cute jumping and frolicking you see in the videos also make them superb hunters, and the interesting thing is that they become more active at night the more contact they have with us humans. Like they're hiding something...
10 Spooky Opossum
The opossum is yet another animal that has benefited from a positive PR campaign. There are countless videos of cute baby opossums, mothers with the little ones piled on their backs, people with pet opossums, and more. Yet, the opossum in this night-vision image is clearly up to no good. We’re not sure what he’s up to, whether it’s a simple matter of stealing fruit or something far more nefarious, but the guilt is beaming out through his fiery eyes. We'll also point out that opossums are basically alien invaders to the North American continent. The marsupial originated in South America and only made it north about 3 million years ago during the Piacenzian age as volcanic activity below the ocean surface created a land link between the two continents. Like their competitor, the raccoon, they can eat many different things and survive in many different environments, and with global warming in recent decades, these creatures keep making their way north through the United States into the extreme southern regions of Canada, well on their way to global domination.
9 Your Beloved Ghost Cat
Mobile phone cams and the Internet have given us a lot of information that we just didn't have access to, such as what your beloved fluffy kitten does while you sleep, innocently presuming they're lovingly curled up at your feet or in their own beds. Maybe, occasionally, you are awakened by their running up and down a hallway and dismiss it as kittenish instincts, maybe triggered by the full moon. Yes, that's just what they want us to think. In reality, night-vision videos and pics show them turning into ghostly creatures with glowing eyes, running amok through the house, fighting with demons and ghosts we can't see, and making sure their fur is sprinkled all over absolutely all of your furniture. But they're so cute, right? Sure, during the day.
8 Deer Rituals #2
Imagine trying to take a walk around your campsite and running into this horror show. We don’t even want to know what’s going on in this picture. The buck is clearly startled at being caught in the act of whatever disturbing ceremony is happening here, while the girl and the doe are in the middle of exchanging some sort of ritualistic gesture. Did someone rescue the girl, or is she already part of the dark side? Is that even a human child? And what does she have in her hands, a sacrificial animal? So many questions and so few answers. More proof, if you needed it, that those supposedly gentle deer are actually supernatural creatures terrorizing the forests at night.
7 Your Trusted Doggo Goes Ghoul
Never mind outdoors; there's the indoors you have to worry about, too. You got yourself a doggo because you knew that they're loyal to a fault and that they’d love you forever with all their doggy hearts. You understand that cats are shady, and it’s that close bond with your doggo that sold you. Dogs don’t hide what they feel, right? If they wag their tails, we know it’s all good. Except when night falls. We’re not sure what happens to them, exactly, or what their game is, but according to this image, your friendly Fido on the rug turns into a hound from hell of epic proportions. Do you really want to get up for a midnight fridge raid with that roaming your home? Maybe wait till morning instead.
6 Grizzly Bear Attacks Nature Cam
If you ever see this sight or this view of a grizzly bear, then we hope your will has been made up and that you're at peace with everyone in your life. This image comes from a nature cam at Island Park, Idaho. Nature cams are a great idea, and they've captured some very cool images and footage of animals in the wild doing what they do best. That is, until one day in Idaho when a big old grizzly decided he'd had enough. This image captures the bear as he approaches the camera. Just after this moment, he lunges with his mouth open and those big, bad teeth are bared and he takes a swipe at the camera with his claws. It seems like the camera made it out of the encounter to record the end of it and the bear rambling away again, but we do know that if it was us, we'd be a steaming pile of meat on the forest floor.
5 Murderous Mountain Lion With Laser Eyes
Cougar, mountain lion, puma, panther, or catamount -- by any name, these creatures are fearsome predators and the largest wildcat in the Americas. They can stalk you silently through the forest for an hour or more, and once they've set their sights on their prey, they don't give up until they've gone in for the kill. They have highly acute vision and have been known to roam more than 30 miles in a single day. They're secretive animals, so chances are, even if you were in the woods with them, you'd never see them... until it was too late. They're scary enough by day, but when they become demonic cats with laser eyes, it's over the top.
4 Spotted Hyenas Waiting For You To Die
The spotted hyena – like The Joker, we’ll note – always seems to have at least a faint smile on its face. In fact, it’s also called the laughing hyena. They’re in a good mood because they’re waiting for weak, wounded creatures like you to hurry up and die so they can have dinner. And, if you take too long, they, and their large jaws full of sharp fangs, will step in to push you off to the hereafter. They live in large social groups with defined structures and hierarchies, which means that, as you lie dying on the savannahs and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa, you're likely to find yourself surrounded by a gang of ravenous, laughing hyenas. Naturally, they like to roam by night, when many of the large predators are also at work -- all the better to scavenge from.
3 The Cat Coven
Cats may bond with each other, but they'll still often fight each other – or stage fights with each other, we should say. Because the animosity, the hissing when that stray goes by the door -- it’s just a front to fool the stupid humans. In reality, they're all part of a hive mind, an evil coven of demon familiars wreaking havoc on our lives in ways we don’t even realize. At least, that’s our theory based on this photograph and others like it. Say you’re walking down the street at night and you happen to see this kind of illicit cat meeting on a car – maybe even your car. Do you confront them? Make cute baby talk and approach them, hoping to pet and scratch ears until you've appeased their spirits? Or maybe just cross the street and get back inside? We’re voting for number three.
2 Don’t Go Into The Woods
It’s a beautiful evening, and you’re out for a walk. It’s just the park, after all; it’s not like you’re out in the wilderness or anything. And then you run into... this. We could tell you that the eyes of raccoons have a special layer that reflects light. It’s called the tapetum lucida, and it reflects the light back into the retina so that they can absorb more of it and see better at night. It also creates the glowing-eye effect you get in night-vision images. But even knowing the science, we’re betting that if you came upon this view while strolling in the woods that it wouldn’t help to deter the trigger in your lizard brain that would tell you to run like hell. And so you should.
1 Creepy Colony Of Bats
Bats eating fruit. Bats snoozing, wrapped in a towel. Sure, on their own and in an indoor area where they’re being catered to by humans, they’re cute enough. But in their wild state, they live in massive colonies, and when night falls, they take to the air in a haunting display like this one. There’s a reason why Bruce Wayne’s creators chose bats as a symbol and icon that would turn his caped superhero alter-identity into a figure who's feared by Gotham City’s hardened criminals. There’s something ultimately terrifying, in a primal sort of way, about a flock of creatures with leathery wings and who only come out at night.
Sources: nationalgeographic.com; canadiangeographic.ca