Nocturnal animals tend to have proportionally bigger eyes than humans do. They also tend to have pupils that open more widely in low light. So, at the outset, nocturnal eyes gather more light than human eyes do. Many nocturnal eyes are equipped with a feature designed to amplify the amount of light that reaches the retina. Called a tapetum, this mirror-like membrane reflects light that has already passed through the retina back through the retina a second time, giving the light another chance to strike the light-sensitive rods. Whatever light is not absorbed on this return trip passes out of the eye the same way it came in—through the pupil. The presence of the tapetum can be observed at night when a pair of glowing eyes reflects back a flashlight or some other light source.
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