We know that hamsters can’t see very well – in fact, if they didn’t have all their other acute senses, they would need teeny-tiny little hamster guide dogs! Hamsters can see to a limited extent out of their super cute twinkly eyes, but don’t expect a big reaction if you add a few bright colors to their cage – it turns out hamster vision is very different from yours.
Hamsters are colorblind. They see in black, white, shades of grey, and subtle tones of green and blue. Like many nocturnal animals, hamsters have more rod-shaped cells in their eyes compared to animals that are active during the day. The rods work as receptors to help them see in low light.
But you don’t need to feel sorry for your little hamster who is living in a monochromatic world! Your small pet isn’t missing anything – what it lacks in rainbow colors, it makes up for with its other senses.
What Colors Can Hamsters See?
A study by a Korean University in 2009 found that hamsters have very similar vision to bats! Eyes are complicated structures, but to think of them in simple terms, they are made up of two main types of photoreceptors: rods and cones.
|Effective in light conditions||Better in low light|
|Make color visible||Differentiate light and dark|
|Hamster eyes have 3.01% cones||Hamster eyes have 96.99% rods|
All animals, and humans, who are more active during the day, have more cone cells in their eyes. A lot of light is required to see colors – that’s why if you look out into the garden at night, you can’t see that the leaves on the trees are green – all colors drop into greyscale.
Animals, like hamsters, have a lot more of the other type of photoreceptors called rods. They are not great for making out color, but they give the animal a handy set of built-in night vision goggles!
Since hamsters only have just over 3% cones in the structure of their eyes, scientists do believe that they can differentiate between subtle tones of blue and green, but to a limited extent. What we do know is that they cannot see any shade of red.
Fortunately, hamsters don’t only rely on their eyesight to find their way around, and they are not entirely blind. They enjoy exploring, so go ahead and add some extra tubes to its cage and learn how to play safely with your short-sighted little pal.
Do Lights Bother Hamsters?
Your hamster does not need a nightlight to find its way around! In fact, it is better to place your hamster cage in a position where it can work on the natural day-night cycle. Avoid artificial lights and let your hamster rest and forage at times that are in tune with its body clock.
Like most nocturnal animals, hamsters can see better in low light than in bright conditions. Sunlight or spotlights, like from a flashlight, are completely blinding for a hamster, and your little pet must always have dark places to hide and sleep.
How Far Away Can Hamsters See?
Your hamster can only see a few inches past its nose, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t aware of what is happening around it. Their accurate hearing, smell, and touch are their roadmaps – just bring a treat close to the cage and watch the cute little nose start sniffing the air!
When approaching a hamster, it is essential to give it some cues that you are nearby rather than simply picking it up. Since it can’t see well, it can be very frightening for a hamster to be picked up suddenly, and the small animal may bite.
Can Hamsters See In The Dark?
Hamsters can see things close to their noses in low light, but that does not mean no light. Like humans and most other animals, hamsters can’t see in complete darkness.
Our tiny pets need dim light to make out what’s around them. While they can see a little better at night, they can’t see as well as animals like cats or owls.
Hamsters don’t enjoy bright artificial lighting, and it can be very stressful for a hammie to be under bright lights. Illuminating your hamster’s cage will not help your pet to see any better.
What Does Hamster Vision Look Like?
A study of the eyesight of mice found that their vision is around 20/2000, and hamsters are pretty close relatives. In human terms, anyone with vision of 20/200 or worse is legally blind, so your hammie cannot read even the first big letter on a vision test chart!
Hamster babies are born with their eyes sealed tightly shut for the first 14 to 17 days. Even when they do finally open, they will never really be able to admire a distant view or enjoy watching television.
Hamsters are incredibly short-sighted, so they can only make out shapes very close to their nose. They use their sensitive whiskers and acute small to identify objects and are pretty good at finding tasty snacks, even when they are hidden.
You can test your hammie’s ability to find things by building a maze and placing a few snacks in the tunnels. Your little pet will navigate its way around, sniffing the air as it moves along to find the hidden snacks.
Can Hamsters Recognize Their Owners?
So now that you know your hamster can’t see far past its nose, you may be wondering if your hamster recognizes you. After all, you are its adoring owner, and you want it to know you.
While it probably isn’t worth putting up photos of yourself near your hammie’s cage, your hamster pal can quickly learn to recognize your unique scent and know your voice. Once it is tame, you may notice your hamster coming out of its burrow or hamster hideout when you enter the room. So the pressure is off! You don’t need to do your hair or wear special outfits for your hamster buddy to recognize and love you just the way you are. Just another reason why hamsters are perfect companions!