Are Hamsters Color Blind?

You have heard that hamsters are colorblind and are wondering if it is true. An animal that is colorblind does not necessarily see only shades of black and white. You may know that other common mammal pets like dogs, cats, mice, and rabbits are colorblind, too. We’ve done the research to bring you all kinds of information about hamsters’ colorblindness. 

Hamsters are colorblind by definition. When an animal is colorblind, that means it is unable to see colors in a normal way. While some animals were thought to only see in black and white, it is common for colorblind animals to see certain shades of color while not being able to see other shades. Some breeds of hamsters can see in shades of green and yellow but are unable to see shades of red. Other breeds of hamsters see in black and white.

Why are hamsters colorblind? What colors can they see? Can they manage their way in the dark? We’ll answer all these questions and more in this post, so be sure to keep reading!

A small hamster laying on his exercising wheel, Are Hamsters Color Blind?

What Are The Different Types Of Color Blindness?

Color blindness affects different kinds of animals and sometimes affects humans. This is determined by the number of types of cone receptors in the eyes. Animals with one type of cone receptor are considered monochromats and they can only see black and white. This includes bats, golden hamsters, and raccoons.

Animals that have two types of cone receptors are dichromatic, which includes most animals that are considered colorblind such as cats, dogs, and other kinds of hamsters. Humans and bees are tri-chromatic, allowing us to see a vast color spectrum. Some animals can have four or five types of color receptors, and mantis shrimp have 12. Researchers do not yet know why. 

What Colors Do Hamsters See?

Golden hamsters and Syrian hamsters are monochromats and see in black and white. Other hamsters are dichromats, which means they have two types of cone receptors. Dichromats can be classified into two different groups. Some dichromats see shades of green and yellow while others see in shades of red and blue. In the case of dichromatic hamsters, they see in shades of green and yellow. 

Rod cells are the part of the eye that can see in lower light conditions. Cone cells are the part of the eye that responds differently to varying wavelengths. They are responsible for color vision. Hamsters have 97 percent rod cells and are colorblind. They have three percent cone cells, and either one or two types of cones. Humans have 95 percent rod cells compared to five percent cone cells but have three different kinds of cone cells.

How Do Hamsters Survive With Poor Eyesight?

A cute hamster peeping out of his wooden house

Hamsters are crepuscular animals, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk. They are naturally prey animals that live in tunnels underground. They are not used to being in bright light situations as a prey animal in the wild.

This developed their genes so they can rely on their nose and whiskers to help them forage for food. They can see better than humans can in the dark, but they can only see inches in front of their own faces.

If you’re interested in learning more about how hamsters rely on their nose, check out our article What Do Hamsters See And Hear?

Can Hamsters See In The Dark?

Hamsters can see very well in the dark compared to daytime. They have a high percentage of rod cells in their eyes, which is responsible for night vision. Hamsters are prey in the wild and had to learn how to protect themselves.

Instead of foraging for food in the day, hamsters would come out at dawn and dusk to avoid predators. This developed the nighttime vision hamsters have that is better than humans can see at night. Hamsters are energized by darkness and sleep during the light of the day.

Should You Leave Your Hamster In The Dark?

Hamsters have an opposite tendency than humans. They are not nocturnal, but they are more active during the dark hours. They naturally use light hours to sleep and get some rest. If hamsters are placed in complete darkness, then they will not get the light hours they need to rest.

It is good to have relative darkness and lights off for about 12 hours each night. That does not mean that you need to turn lights on for the hamster during the day as natural light coming into the house should be plenty for the hamster to get some rest. You may purchase a small hideaway chamber for your hamster to find more darkness during daylight hours.

Multi-Chamber Hamster House Maze

Click here to see more on Amazon.

Can Your Hamster See You?

A kid holding a gray hamster on his hand

Hamsters have poor eyesight and can only see a couple of inches away from them. Sudden movements can startle and stress out a hamster, which can cause them to bite you in response. Hamsters do have increased smell and hearing senses so they are able to recognize their owners over the course of time.

In order to build a relationship with your hamster, you need to begin to earn the hamster’s trust. There are some ways to build the relationship and allow the hamster to become more comfortable with your presence. In this way, you will be able to handle your pet, and your hamster will also enjoy spending time with you.

How Can You Build Your Hamster’s Trust?

Hamsters are small animals and, naturally, are prey in the wild. You should be careful not to make sudden movements around the hamster as you could be mistaken for a predator. A hamster will get to know its owner by learning the owner’s scent.

You can slowly put your hand into the cage for a period of time. As the hamster learns that your hand is not attempting to harm, then it will be more comfortable with your hand and your scent. You can also speak to your hamster as you do this.

Feeding your hamster treats is another way to associate your scent with a source of food rather than a predator looking to harm.

Training Your Pet Hamster By Gerry Bucsis

Click here to see more on Amazon.

For even more information about earning your hamster’s trust, check out our post about How To Get Your Hamster To Like You.

In Closing

All hamsters are color-blind, but the type of colorblindness varies by hamster breed. Some of them, such as Syrian and golden hamsters are monochromats, which means they can only see in shades of black and white. We don’t have the information on every hamster breed, but some other hamster breeds are dichromats and can see in shades of green and yellow. The hamster’s poor eyesight is a result of behavioral patterns in the wild.

Hamsters are active during dawn and dusk. They feel more energized during the dark hours than they do during the light of the day. It is good for your hamster pet to have complete darkness at night for optimum health. Keep the hamster in a darker room that is less frequented by members of the family. Otherwise, you can get a chamber that will give your hamster the most amount of darkness.

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