The Life of A Hamster: What Do Hamsters See?
Hamsters see in black and white and shades of green. They have poor eyesight beyond a few inches similar to a human with 20/400 vision. Objects beyond 3-4 inches appear as fuzzy, blurry blobs to a hamster. Hamster eyes have 97% rod with only 3% cone receptors which explains the lack of color vision. The high percentage of rods gives hamsters the ability to see better humans in low-light situations. This has led to other survival senses.
Our first hamster brought lots of laughter and cage cleaning into our lives.
I did wonder how hamsters saw the world. Come to find out, they see their environment in shades of black and white with some greens thrown in. Unfortunately, their eyesight is not great, so it’s hard for them to make out details.
If you want to learn more about what hamsters see every day, keep reading!
What do hamsters see?
Hamsters have poor eyesight. They see details only at very close distances and cannot recognize their owner’s face more than a few inches away.
Anything more than a few inches away is a blurry, fuzzy, blob that cannot be discerned well.
The hamster’s poor eyesight might help explain why they live in burrows or other places with walls. However, the hamster has excellent hearing and a great sense of smell instead. They use these to survive day-to-day life because they can’t see very well!
But, they can see you if you get close enough.
Do hamsters have good eyesight?
No, not really – a hamster’s vision is quite weak, so it’s hard for them to make out details. Hamsters have eyesight roughly equivalent to a human with 20/400 vision.
20/400 vision means they can only see things in detail a few inches from their face. Anything further away is blurry or nothing more than shadows.
While this may be bad news for the most part, there are some benefits. For instance, since their sight isn’t as sharp as ours when they grow old and become blind, we might not startle them as much as animals with great eyesight.
Can hamsters see in the dark?
No, hamsters cannot see in the dark. However, they can see much better in low-light conditions than humans.
A hamster’s eye contains 97% rods and only 3% cones. Rods are the black and white receptors. Therefore, hamsters can see very well at dawn and dusk, within a few inches of their head, in black and white.
With so many rods, hamsters are not built for daylight activity. This, combined with hamsters being prey animals, helps explain their activity primarily in dusk or dawn lighting scenarios.
Are Hamsters color blind?
Yes, sort of. Hamsters have some color vision, but not as much as people. They are most likely able to see greens the best while they have difficulty distinguishing other colors from each other.
Not all hamsters see any colors at all. The Syrian hamster sees in shades of green, and the Siberian hamster has vision that encompasses the blue and ultraviolet parts of the light spectrum. No hamsters can see reds.
Hamsters are not able to see many colors because their eyes contain very few cone receptors. Cones are the “color” detecting receptors in the eye.
Why do hamsters have poor eyesight?
Hamster’s eye is less spherical than ours, so it does not focus light like our eye would when looking at objects close by or far away. So the cornea only appears biconvex, sort of like a lentil, convex on both sides, when the reality is it is less round.
The cornea and lens of the eye focus light onto the retina. When the light is unfocused, the images the brain detects are fuzzy and misshapen.
The retina of a hamster’s eye is considered Holangiotic which means: “…with blood vessels distributed throughout most of the neurosensory retina, supplying the inner retina only.” – Science Direct
How do hamsters survive with such poor eyesight?
Hamsters may not have the best eyesight, but they make up for it by using their other senses.
The sense of smell in hamsters is thought to be stronger than in other animals. Hamsters use their sense of smell to help them recognize food, other hamsters and find their burrows. They also use it to recognize their owners.
Hamsters also have a great sense of hearing. They can hear high frequencies that you and I cannot.
Ever notice that when you make a sudden noise, your hamster stops, sits perfectly still, and begins to sniff the air? This is because hamsters are prey animals, and a loud noise might be the sound of an animal predator. Your hamster is trying to figure that out.
The whiskers, or vibrissae, help the hamster detect objects around them. These sensitive hairs extend from the hamster’s muzzle.
In order for a hamster to survive, they need their whiskers and their sense of hearing and smell to find food or avoid predators. When living with humans, the hamsters have an advantage because they can rely on our human senses too!
Conclusion: What Do Hamsters See?
Hamsters have vision that is much worse than what you and I can see. They also don’t see colors as well or at all, but they do have a sense of nighttime sight which helps them find food in the dark.
Hamsters are prey animals, so they rely on their whiskers, hearing, and sense of smell to avoid predators and other dangers around them. So if your hamster starts sniffing when it hears sudden noises, then it’s probably just trying to figure out if there is any danger nearby for both themselves and you!
So while we might call our hamster blind because it doesn’t see color or anything very clearly, this isn’t true – they’re not blind at all! It’s just different from how humans experience life with our normal eyes.
Does blue light affect hamsters? Yes, one study showed that blue light might cause depression-like characteristics in hamsters. So, keep the UV and blue colored lights away from your hamster. Dim light is the sweet spot for them.