Hamsters are adorable little creatures that everyone instantly falls in love with. They love jumping around and playing, especially since they are curious by nature and want to fidget with everything they come across.
However, can hamsters see color? Do you think they can tell when you place a red blanket on them? Or are they colorblind?
Unfortunately, hamsters cannot see color. Their retinas have 3 percent cone cells and 97 percent rod cells. This means that even though they don’t see the world in black and white, they cannot differentiate between colors or see them correctly.
Can Hamsters See Color?
Like the human eye, hamsters’ eyes also have pupils, lenses, retina, iris, and the optic nerve. Depending on their specie and size, their eyes can be different in shape and color.
When you look from afar, you might think that your hamster’s eyes are round and have one color. However, did you know that they have a full range of eyesight as opposed to humans? This means that they can see greater angles using their eyesight.
However, hamsters have weak eyesight. Moreover, they do not view the world in color. They are nocturnal creatures, meaning they can see at night but have poor eyesight during the day.
Hamsters are better at differentiating between the blue, green, and UV end of the spectrum, but other than that; they are the fuzziest, cutest little creatures.
Siberian hamsters can view shades of blue in the ultraviolet range, and Syrian hamsters can view green colors in the electromagnetic range. However, they cannot see other colors.
Everything You Need to Know about a Hamster’s Vision
Some owners might wonder if their hamsters can see them. The truth is that even though they have a fuzzy vision, they can view things close to their face. This means that your hamster might not be able to see you when you walk into a room, but it can see you when you pick it up and bend your face to kiss its cheeks.
Hamsters are near-sighted, so they cannot see things that are far away. Moreover, since they have a rigid lens, their eyes cannot focus on light too well.
Do Hamsters Need to See Color?
Guinea pigs, foxes, bats, owls, and hamsters are nocturnal animals, meaning they stay up all night and sleep during the day.
Most nocturnal animals cannot see color. Hamsters go out at night when the world loses all its color because they feel safer in the darkness. After all, they are tiny creatures that predators can attack easily.
However, there is a tiny possibility that hamsters see color at night. However, seeing the world in limited colors does not really bother them since they use their instincts to find food and hide from predators.
Hamsters have a strong sense of smell and hearing, which helps keep them well-fed and safe to find their way home.
Since there are fewer predators at night, they can hunt for food easily. Moreover, rather than only relying on their eyesight, they use their whiskers, smell, and ears to determine their surroundings.
There is no denying that nature works in mysterious yet magical ways- even though hamsters have weak eyesight and are colorblind for the most part, they are customized for their life.
Unlike human beings, hamsters are not attracted to food by color. Instead, they only look for food with the intent of feeding themselves and storing it so that they can eat the next day in peace.
Do American Hamsters Have Good Eyesight?
Hamsters have limited spatial vision since their eyes are far from each other. It is no wonder they have difficulty looking at objects far away. Since they are short-sighted, hamsters can only see objects close to them.
If compared to humans, their eyesight is 20/400. Keeping this number in mind, think about how blind hamsters are.
When hamster babies are born, they keep their eyes tightly closed for the first 14 to 17 days. When they finally open their eyes, they cannot really admire their surroundings because all they see is fuzz.
That being said, hamsters have excellent vision. This is because of their strong senses and the location of their eyes. Since they have round eyes with lots of space in between, they can view if any predators are coming from the side to attack them. This helps keep them safe, even in the wild.
How do Hamster’s Eyes Function?
Even though hamsters cannot see color and are mostly blind, their eyes work like any other mammal’s eyes. The structure of their eyes is also similar to other mammals.
A hamster’s eyes are 2.5 times bigger than the eyes of a mouse. This means these animals have big, dark eyes, which allow loads of light to pass through them.
If you are wondering how a hamster’s eyes work, here is all you need to know:
- The light passes through the cornea first- this is the transparent outer surface of the eye.
- The light finds its way into the pupil. The pupil controls the amount of light passing through the eyes. It is no wonder that when too much light is around, the size of the pupils changes.
- After the pupils, light enters the lens. The lens helps the vision focus on the eyes.
- At last, the light enters the retina. This is the final receptor of the light and is found at the back of the eye.
- The light is then converted into an electrical signal, which the brain receives through the optic nerve.
- Lastly, the brain converts the light into an image.
How Do Hamsters Survive with Poor Eyesight and Color Blindness?
Before you start feeling guilt and sympathy for your furry friend, you should know that hamsters are okay with how they are created. They rely closely on their hearing and scent to survive and perceive the world around them.
Hamsters have strong hearing abilities. In fact, they can hear better than humans. This skill allows them to hear their predators coming from miles away. It is no wonder that hamsters become extraordinarily still and quiet when there is a bang outside your house. Even though you can barely hear it, your hamster definitely can.
When hamsters think that they are in danger, they become incredibly still. This technique helps keep them safe- if they don’t move, they will not make any sound, and there is a high chance that their predators will not be able to spot them.
Even though this is great for wild hamsters, keep in mind that even pet hamsters have heightened hearing abilities. This makes them sensitive to sound, so we recommend not making too much noise around your hamster, as this can make it feel tensed and anxious.
Hamsters also have a terrific sense of smell that they use to communicate with one another, detect food, and understand another hamster’s gender. A hamster’s scent gland is located around its hips- it is no wonder that hamsters repeatedly rub their hips around objects when marking their territory.
Hence, when cleaning your hamster’s cage, you should refrain from using strong chemicals and detergents that will strip the cage of the hamster’s natural scent. If this happens, your hamster might not recognize its surroundings, and you will have to go through the entire process of reintroducing it to your home again.
Moreover, if you have just finished eating, you must wash your hamsters before touching your hamster. Since hamsters have a strong sense of smell, they will detect the food you just ate and might try to bite your fingers off- no one wants that, right?
How Far Can Hamsters See?
As mentioned before, hamsters are born blind and open their eyes after two weeks. When they start growing up, their eyesight develops, but it does not develop as well as human eyesight.
This means that hamsters can only see things close to them, mainly a couple of inches away from their face.
Due to their weak eyesight, hamsters cannot judge heights too well and might even fall off a ledge. Hence, you must always keep hamsters away from high platforms and supervise them if they are out of their cage.
Here are some things you can do to ensure that your hamster does not fall:
- When you are holding your hamster or playing with it, keep it away from windows or high spaces so that even if the hamster breaks free from your grip and falls, it will not hurt itself.
- Do not place the hamster’s cage on a window or ledge, as hamsters move around a lot; one wrong move could lead to their death.
- If you do not have any choice but to put them on a high platform, use a hammock and place the hamster in it. Hammocks are usually great for rats but can also be used for hamsters. You can find hammocks at any pet store to protect your hamster from falling and getting hurt.
Hamsters are built strangely, especially when it comes to colors. While some mammals can see all colors, others cannot see colors at all. Hamsters fall somewhere in between- even though they do not see the world in shades of black and white, they can only see a few colors on the spectrum.
Most hamsters see the world in one color- either green or blue. The exact color they can see depends on their specie and size, but we recommend taking good care of your hamsters and ensuring that they are supervised even if you are not home.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more