Hamsters with red eyes may look like an animal straight out of a horror movie, possessed by some evil spirit, or the zombie version of a hamster. However, do red-eyed hamsters mean something supernatural is happening around you?
Unfortunately, as thrilling and full of adventure as the scenario might be for you, it is far beyond the actual reality. As much as these hamsters look the part in the movie, they are nothing to be afraid of those red eyes in real life.
The color of the hamster’s eyes has no relation to being aggressive or acting out of its usual character. Just like humans have no effect of their eye color on the way they behave, hamsters with any eye color can behave differently.
Most people avoid red-eyed hamsters only since they look scary. However, some brave and smart people do not care about appearances when adopting a hamster. To create awareness about these hamsters and kill this myth or superstition related to red-eyed hamsters, in this post, we have listed the possible reasons why some hamsters have red eyes.
Furthermore, according to the National Hamster Association in the US, a list of rare eye colors found in hamsters is also compiled here so that complete information can help future hamster owners make the right decision.
Why Do Some Hamsters Have Red Eyes?
Many factors might play a role in hamsters’ eyes being red. The color of the eyes is dependent upon the production of Melanin in a hamster. Just like the pigmentation process for humans depends on the amount of Melanin produced in the body, for a hamster, Melanin is also responsible for giving color to the skin and making it darker or lighter, and it also affects the eye color.
However, this is not the only cause a hamster can get red eyes. Having red eyes can also be because of genetics. If the hamster’s mother or father has red eyes, there is a higher chance that the hamster will have red eyes. The likelihood of this increases if both parents are red-eyed.
What Are The Other Reasons For Hamsters’ Red Eyes?
The first and foremost reason for hamsters having red eyes is the lack of Melanin found in hamsters. So, Melanin is a pigment that gives coloration to skin, nails, hair, and eyes. A normal hamster would have colored furs like brown with different patterns and brown or black eyes; this indicates that the Melanin level is high.
In contrast, if the hamster’s fur is white and its eyes are red, it indicates low or no pigmentation. Hence, this hamster cannot produce Melanin; such hamsters are known as Albino Hamsters.
There is a huge misconception regarding organisms with albinism; whether animals or humans, people tend to think they are abnormal too. However, all they lack is a pigment responsible for providing color. Melanin production has no relation to the brain’s activity, and people with albinism are mentally normal, just like those with Melanin.
It is a grave injustice to relate the production of pigment with the brain’s activity.
Hamster Could Be Blind
Your hamster may be blind. The reason it has red eyes can be due to cognitive blindness. However, some symptoms make it easier to identify whether the hamster can see or not. Firstly, as a baby, it would not move as it should. The lack of movement indicates that the hamster is blind because it can only learn to move if it sees its environment and adapts after watching the things happening around it.
Secondly, if you have gotten a hamster when it is an adult, however, the hamster will not respond to any of the moves when you try to train it. The reason for this is that since the hamster won’t be able to see you, it is supposed to mimic you.
Thirdly, a blind hamster will find it difficult to engage with other hamsters in its surrounding. A hamster could be blind by birth or get blind due to an accident leading to a damaged iris. A damaged iris can turn eye color red, while hamsters blind by birth have red eyes by birth.
Suppose you see that your hamster’s eyes are turning into a shade of red. In that case, you must go to a veterinary clinic and get the damaged eyes treated immediately before the partial blindness changes to permanent.
An eye infection is also common for hamsters, and conjunctivitis can turn eyes red. This condition may remain and go away on its own; however, that doesn’t lessen the pain. The infection may happen when hamsters’ cages aren’t cleaned regularly.
The litter sitting less than a foot away from the hamster’s bedding is a potential site of bacteria infestation. This bacteria gets into the air, and since the eyes are the only organ that has direct contact with the atmosphere outside the body, bacteria transmit into the eyes quickly.
It is always better to get the hamster checked by a vet before the infection develops, and a short course of antibiotics and eye drops becomes a long treatment. Although eye infections in humans and animals may happen for similar reasons, using the same medicine or eye drops for humans on animals is not intelligent. Never use human eye drops to treat eye infections on your pets.
Furthermore, always change the hamsters’ beddings and buy those that can work for longer and are from a trusted brand in the US.
The last reason for red eyes can be an allergy to dust. Red eye is a symptom of dust allergy. If your house is dusty or you live in an area with sandy areas, the dust accumulation in your house can severely affect your hamster.
Hamsters are sensitive creatures, and as its owner, the duty falls upon you to check if your hamster has had an allergic reaction to the dust. Observation is the key to this. The potassium permanganate solution is a solution that can be used to treat dust allergies. Also, it is imperative to keep the hamster cages and your house clean if your hamster has a dust allergy.
Other Common Eye Colors Of Hamsters
Many rare eye colors can be found in hamsters. The most common color is black, while the rarest eye color can be heterochromatic. Here are some of the eye colors commonly found around the globe.
Black Eyed Hamster
Even though black eyes are very common, sometimes there is a slight speck of red in them that is visible only in the light. It could be because a red eye gene is present in the DNA; however, it is not dominant in this generation but could potentially be in the upcoming ones.
Blue Ring Around Black
There is a light or dark blue ring around the black part of the eyes of the hamster. Such hamsters are called blue-eyed hamsters, but the eyes are not completely blue. The ring is prominent when the hamster turns its eyes sideways. This type of blue eyes is common in hybrid hamsters.
Red or Pink Colored Eyes
Hamsters with red or pink color can have a variation of red color in their eyes due to albinism. The varying amount of Melanin dictates the amount of redness in the eyes.
This is a rare eye color condition in which one eye is black and the other red. Hamsters with this eye color condition are said to be expensive and are in demand for breeding.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Hamsters With Red Eyes
Does the redness in my hamster’s eyes lead to blindness?
Not all hamsters with red eyes are blind. Yes, hamsters born blind can have red eyes, but so does the hamsters with albinism. However, the lack of Melanin is unrelated to abnormality or blindness. The redness in the hamster’s eye, if it is due to an injury, could damage the nerve behind it and lead to permanent blindness.
Why Do White Hamsters Have Red Eyes?
Hamsters with albinism only have white fur and red eyes because the lack of Melanin affects both the pigmentation in hair and eyes. However, it is not necessary that if a hamster is white, it must have red eyes. Many hamsters have blue rings around the black iris or simple, pure black eyes.
Concluding It All
Hamsters can have different eye colors depending on their genes. Red-eyed hamsters are quite attractive and rare. There are different reasons why a hamster has red eyes, such as blindness, lack of Melanin, dust allergy, or any injury.
In case of injury or allergy, one must contact the nearest clinic for pets to get immediate treatment. Red eyes can also be harmless, like hamsters with albinism or born into blindness.
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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