20 Fascinating Creatures That Thrive Without Ever Seeing the Sunlight

Can you imagine never seeing the sun? I mean, sure, we have areas in Alaska and other places where the sun isn’t seen for weeks or months at a time, but have you ever imagined what it would be like to live your entire life with no sunlight? Well, these twenty creatures know exactly what it’s like.

Anglerfish

AnglerFish
Image credits: Neil Bromhall/ shutterstock.com

Anglerfish are named and known for their unique hunting or “angling” method. They have their very own glow-in-the-dark fishing lure that they use to lure prey. It’s actually a bioluminescent organ that hangs out in front of their mouth. Small prey is attracted to the light, and when they swim too close to that mouth, it’s lights out…literally.

Over time, anglerfish have adapted to the ocean’s extreme pressure and cold temperatures. The females tend to be much bigger than their male counterparts, and, strangely enough, the males’ bodies are sometimes absorbed by their mates, making them parasitic. 

Blind Cave Fish 

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Blind cave fish are another type of aquatic creature that has evolved in isolated, dark, wet environments. Having lived in caves for several generations, they have lost their pigmentation and eyesight. 

Instead of using sight, these fascinating fish navigate and find food through enhanced non-visual senses, such as detecting vibrations in the water. They’re a prime example of adaptation to a specific environment.

Giant Isopods

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These deep-sea crustaceans look a lot like oversized pill bugs. You may have called them “rolly pollies,” but these babies can grow up to 30 centimeters long! Giant isopods are scavengers that feed on dead whales, fish, and squid. Their hard exoskeletons protect them from the ocean’s intense pressure.

Vampire Squid 

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Would you be surprised to learn that there is an ancient species of vampire that has existed for hundreds of millions of years? The vampire squid wears a cape, much like the vampires in the movies, and can turn that cape-like webbing inside out as a defensive mechanism. 

Sorry to disappoint Twilight fans, but despite its name, the vampire squid does not feed on blood. Instead, it eats dead, organic matter, making it more like a vulture than a vampire. No fangs and neck-biting here! 

Deep-Sea Jellyfish 

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Deep-sea jellyfish also have glow-in-the-dark, or bioluminescent, abilities. They use these skills to communicate and catch prey. They have adapted to live in the crushing pressures of the ocean’s depths. Many of them have unique camouflage due to their intricate, often transparent bodies, which help them blend into their environment. 

Tube Worms 

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Tube worms living near hydrothermal vents near tectonic plates in the sea work in unison with bacteria living on the chemicals from those vents. Tube worms don’t have a digestive system and are forced to rely on those symbionts for nutrition. These worms can withstand extreme temperatures and toxic chemicals found near the vents that would kill most creatures on contact.

Cave Salamanders 

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Cave salamanders have become totally used to living in total darkness since they have little to no eyesight. Their bodies and limbs look a bit weird because they are longer than “normal.” Instead of relying on sight, they have receptors that help them find prey and feel out currents. They also have very slow metabolisms that enable them to go for a long time without food if necessary.

Mole Rats 

naked mole rat in a terrarium
Photo credit: Aydan Metev / Shutterstock.com.

Mole rats, such as the naked mole rats, live in complex underground burrow systems similar to how ants and bees thrive. Native to Africa, their social structure comprises workers with a queen of the nest. They can live a very long time (up to three decades!) and are very resistant to cancer, making them fascinating creatures to learn from. 

Cave Crickets

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Like the cave salamander, cave crickets have longer legs and antennae that help them navigate dark cave environments. They are omnivores, feeding on organic matter, including plant detritus and animal droppings. Like the cave salamander, cave crickets can go a long time without food and live in groups like the mole rat.

Blind Snakes 

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Blind snakes are small, burrowing snakes that spend most of their lives underground, feeding on termites and ants. Their tiny eyes are covered by scales, which makes them basically blind. Since they are blind, they use their sense of smell to locate ant and termite colonies.

Deep-Sea Shrimp

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The deep-sea shrimp is another creature that has some bioluminescence. They play an important role in the deep-sea ecosystem as both predators and prey, and eat by scavenging and hunting down their prey. 

Cave Beetles

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Cave beetles have evolved to live in constant darkness. They thrive in subterranean environments, and although they’ve gradually lost their eyes over time, they still have the genes for sight. It’s an interesting fact that questions Darwinian theories. Their long antennas and other adaptations help them to look for food.

Cave Spiders 

Cave spider and web in cave Movile
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The cave spider’s senses have been adapted over time to give it a heightened sense of touch. Much like spiders in daylight webs, cave spiders use vibration to find their prey. Like many other cave dwellers, they can go long periods of time without food and have lost their sight and coloring over time. 

Cave Crayfish 

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The cave crayfish is another creature that has adapted to life in the dark dampness. These crustaceans lose their coloring and eyesight and eat rotten organic matter found in the caves where they thrive.

Blind Goby Fish

Madagascar blind cave fish (Typhleotris madagascariensis), a species of sleeper goby endemic to Madagascar.
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Blind goby fish are small, cave-dwelling fish that have lost their eyesight and pigmentation due to living in complete darkness. They rely on other senses, such as touch and taste, to navigate and find food. These gobies are often found in limestone cave systems with freshwater pools.

Cave Leeches

a slug that lives in a cave
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According to the National Library of Medicine, leeches are adapted to the moist and dark conditions of cave environments, much like these other cave-dwelling creatures. They’ve also lost their pigmentation and can no longer see light. 

These leeches feed on the blood of bats and other cave-dwelling animals and are left on their own as larvae to find food themselves. They’ve developed special detection methods for finding prey that sense the difference in the pressure and chemical makeup of the area around them.

Cave Millipedes

A blind cave millipede in the Prometheus Cave in Georgia.
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Cave millipedes are arthropods adapted to caves’ darkness and humidity. They often lack eyes and pigmentation, and they feed on decaying plant material and fungi. Cave millipedes are crucial in breaking down organic matter and recycling nutrients within the cave ecosystem.

Texas Cave Scorpions

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Texas cave scorpions are predators that have adapted to hunting in the dark. They use their pincers and venomous stingers to capture and liquify their prey. They have sensory hairs on their legs that detect vibrations and air currents and can glow a luminescent green. These scorpions feed on cave crickets but can go for long periods without food due to their slow metabolism.

Bats

Flying bat hunting in forest. The grey long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus) is a fairly large European bat. It has distinctive ears, long and with a distinctive fold. It hunts above woodland.
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Bats thrive in the darkness, using echolocation to navigate and hunt in the dark, according to Bats.org. They roost in caves during the day and emerge at night to feed on insects. Bat guano provides essential nutrients for other cave organisms, making them an important part of the cave’s ecosystem.

Australian Cave Frogs

Magnificent tree frog Litoria splendida can be found in Australia and can be found in caves.
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Rarely seen and only found in Australia. According to the Western Australian Museum, these cave frogs have adapted to the low-light conditions of caves. Interestingly, science suspects that frogs may be able to “see” in the dark. 

Otherwise, these cave frogs rely on their acute sense of hearing to locate mates and detect predators. These frogs are typically found near cave streams or pools, where they breed and lay their eggs.

It Takes All Kinds…

Woman and her labradoodle dog driving with the car. concept about animals
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While living our lives completely out of the sunlight might sound like torture for us, it is where these creatures thrive. Perhaps some of our stories come from the imaginations of people who saw these unique animals and created tales beyond their reality. While their lives seem strange and mysterious, they are all important parts of their ecosystems – both as predators and prey.

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