Can Hamsters See In the Dark?

If you have a pet hamster, the chances are that you have been woken up by this furry little guy’s squeaky noises playing around almost every night. What does that say about their eyesight? Can hamsters see in the dark? Let’s find out.

Hamsters Are Nocturnal

You may have noticed how quiet it gets before leaving for work. This is because your nocturnal buddy likes dozing off during the daytime and wreaking havoc at night.

The gist of the argument is, yes, hamsters can see at night. They can navigate through darkness quite easily and are incredibly active and playful when it’s time for you to sleep.

However, there is more to the story than just that. Learning how your hamster’s vision works will help you keep a lot of dangers at bay.

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Do Hamsters Have Poor Vision?

While they can see at night, hamsters often fall prey to their poor vision. In fact, right after their birth, they are labeled photophobic. This means that their eyes experience significant discomfort in bright lights.

Hence, hamsters can see but are also plagued with color blindness simultaneously. Due to more rod cells in their eyes, they can exercise their vision better in low lights. You might also notice them reacting less and being more aggressive during daylight hours.

How Do They React In the Dark?

Most hamsters prefer being active in the absence of light. This means their interest in basic tasks such as eating or physical activities inflates during low-light hours. Hence, make sure to turn the light of their cage off and feed them during that time.

On the other hand, it’s also important to note that hamsters have trouble seeing in complete darkness. This is why wild hamsters often rely on moonlight to assist their vision.

However, wild hamsters are rarely found in the United States of America. If they are found, they tend to have the same characteristics as the ones stated above. It is only during dusk and dawn that their eyesight performs at its peak.

How Do They React During the Day?

It is common for hamsters to feel worn out and tired during the day. This is when they prefer sleeping without any disturbance around them.

Make sure not to bug them too much, or they may get grouchy and react violently. In fact, hamsters may even resort to biting their owners when they are bothered excessively.

Avoid placing stress on your hamsters and let them build their energy, so they’re entirely stable at night. Forcing them to play can have a detrimental effect on their natural clock.

Understand that a hamster does not like abrupt changes in its environment. It can tire them out and also cause depression. If you see them biting their cage excessively, take it as a sign and put them to sleep.

At the same time, understand that just like their daytime habits, you shouldn’t alter their nighttime habits. If you’re habitual of sleeping late, you might get in the way of their playtime.

Hence, turn your lamp off at a reasonable hour or place its cage in a different room. Let your hamsters release all their built-in energy and give them the space to be active.

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Do All Hamsters Have the Same Reactions to Darkness?

While most nocturnal hamsters have a consistent response to light and darkness, others do not. For example, Roborovski hamsters are as active during the day as at night.

They do not resist your attempts to play with them during daylight hours. However, once you notice any signs of exhaustion, make sure to stop and let them get some rest.

Syrian hamsters react much more aggressively in comparison. They are not wired to deal with excessive annoyance during the day and can also respond ferociously.

Since there are over 20 different species of hamster, it is hard to determine their needs. Generally, diving deeper into a hamster’s vision requirements and nature is imperative before you buy or adopt them.

Is Darkness Ideal for Their Well-being?

In short, the answer is yes. Darkness is ideal for hamsters’ well-being, so you should think twice before plugging a lamp around their cage. Lights, particularly artificial lights, can do more harm than good. They end up disrupting the natural body clock of your hamster and get in the way of natural melatonin production.

How Do Whiskers Help a Hamster?

Officially known as vibrissae, whiskers help a hamster explore their surroundings. They also help them detect objects on the way. Since they’re extremely sensitive, it is recommended not to cut them off.

Here’s something you probably did not know about this part of your furry friend’s body. Whiskers may appear insignificant, but they serve as an additional sense for most hamsters. They do it by making up for their poor vision.

With tiny sensors outside and nerve endings inside, whiskers help transfer messages to the brain to help a hamster determine what its surroundings are like. They also help them ascertain if they are in danger. Here’s another fact you probably did not know about them.

Whiskers should ideally be long to allow a hamster to gauge whether they can fit through spaces and gain their balance. So, the next time you find your little buddy moving hastily inside their cage, know that their whiskers might play a role here.

These natural sat-navs inside them are not only helpful in terms of allowing them to sense danger or sniff food. Based on the way they twitch, whiskers can also help you determine whether they are feeling playful, sad, or happy.

Can Hamsters Recognize Their Owners?

Since vision isn’t their strongest feature, they use their senses of hearing and smell to recognize their owners. Furthermore, most of them are near-sighted, which means you might have to hold them closer to your nose so they can see you clearly.

Stay vigilant of their movements as they tend to be highly active as soon as they see or recognize you through their senses. The best way to use your time with hamsters is by socializing gently with them and keeping them away from any source of discomfort.

Use a soft voice to call out to them and avoid playing loud sounds in their surroundings. Even though they tend to adapt to a new environment fairly quickly, they can’t go against their nature and will often stay strictly nocturnal.

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Watch Your Hamsters Turn Playful At Night

Now you may wonder, how can you see them being active at night? You wouldn’t want to risk turning the lights on.

If you’re a pet owner, it’s understandable that you may have a knack for witnessing your little buddy enjoy and play around.

Since hamsters have perfect vision during dawn and dusk, you can attempt to mimic those times. You can start by getting lamps with pleasant yellowish hues, like dawn and dusk. However, make sure to keep them at a safe distance from the cage.

How Well Can Hamsters Hear?

If there is one ability anyone can vouch for in a hamster, it is their sense of hearing. It pretty much makes up for what hamsters lack in eyesight.

In fact, this strength of their hearing ability, particularly, helps them in sensing predators from far away. They also have the ability to communicate in private using certain sounds and squeaks.

This way, they can warn each other of any possible risk around them. Speaking of their hearing sensitivity, it’s essential to protect it by keeping your pet hamster away from a noisy environment.

Other than that, ensure to interact with a hamster gently and not drive them over the edge. Understanding their psychological and physiological needs is the best way to form a bond with them over time.

Can They Survive Without Good Eyesight?

While good eyesight is a primary need of most species of animals, it isn’t the only one, at least not for a hamster. Due to their brilliant sense of hearing and smell, they can venture around your vicinity, eat food and perform wheel exercises.

Their sharpened claws and teeth also help them dig dens and holes. So, yes, a hamster can survive even without good eyesight.

Final Words

Here’s the answer to the question, “Can hamsters see in the dark?” Yes, they can, but can they see well? No. Since they generally have poor eyesight, it is often challenging to reap benefits from their vision alone. Hence, they use their remarkable senses of smell and hearing to compensate for their lack of eyesight.

Hamsters can also fall prey to certain accidents due to their compromised vision. You can play a role here by placing accessories such as ramps to protect them from high surfaces. Help your furry buddy feel at home by creating a quiet and moderately lit environment.

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