Does your little fuzzy friend bump into objects in the cage while playing around? Well, you’re probably wondering, are hamsters blind?
The answer to this question is no. Hamsters are capable of seeing, but they have bad eyesight. Additionally, hamsters are prone to eye conditions that can leave them blind.
Do you want to find out more? In today’s article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this topic. Let’s dive in!
Hamsters are born blind, like many animals. They start developing their eyesight after a few days. Most hamsters develop their vision around three weeks of age.
However, their eyesight is usually poor, even after full development. They can barely see anything further than a couple of inches past their nose.
Additionally, hamsters can’t judge depth and distance. So, your little munchkin probably won’t notice you if you stand still.
Hamsters are nocturnal, which means they spend most of their time at night. They live in underground burrows and dens in the wild, where it’s even darker at night.
As a result of spending most of their time in low-light conditions, hamsters have poor eyesight.
On the bright side, their other senses are enhanced to help them find food and avoid predators.
So, they don’t rely on their eyes to move around. Instead, they rely on smelling and hearing their surroundings.
Even if a hamster loses sight, he still can move around and normally live in a cage. That’s because it can memorize all its surroundings and use its senses to navigate the cage.
Hamsters rely more on their senses of hearing and smell than on their eyesight. Let’s check out how they use their other senses to survive.
Hamsters have an incredible sense of smell. In fact, your fuzzy munchkin can recognize your scent.
Surprisingly, if you’ve just finished a meal and went to pet your fuzzy friend, he might bite your finger. That’s because he can probably smell the food on your hands.
On the other hand, strong scents, like perfumes and air fresheners, can be annoying to your little buddy. For that reason, you also need to wash your hands thoroughly before handling your hamster.
Have you ever seen your hammy freeze after hearing a sudden noise? Well, it’s simply listening and observing the source of the sound.
In fact, your little buddy can recognize your voice.
On that note, if you’ve just bought a hamster, it’ll take him a while to learn and get comfortable with all the sounds that happen around your house.
For that reason, you should avoid making loud noises around your hamster. That’s because it can be too stressful for them.
Whiskers help hamsters navigate and balance while exploring the world. They have nerve endings on the inside and sensors on the outside.
So, they can help the rodents picture their surroundings to make up for their bad eyesight. They also work in conjunction with their nose to pick up scents around them.
On that note, whiskers are crucial to your pet’s survival, so you should never cut them.
As they generally have bad eyesight, it can be hard to tell if a hamster is blind. The best way to check if your buddy can’t see is by taking it to the vet.
In addition, you can do a quick test at home by getting a treat he likes and holding it a few inches away from his head.
In case your fuzzy friend notices the treat and goes for it, he probably can see. In case he doesn’t notice the treat, keep moving it close to his face.
If you have to hold it less than one inch away from his nose so that he can notice it, chances are your pet is partially or totally blind.
Luckily, your friend can survive without his eyesight.
So, that makes them color-blind. However, they can still see some colors.
For example, Syrian hamsters can see the color green, while Siberian ones can see shades of blue.
Luckily, they don’t need to see colors. That’s because they’re nocturnal animals, and they don’t depend on their eyesight to find food.
Although red eyes are considered a sign of blindness, red-eyed hamsters aren’t blind. That said, they have weak eyesight.
Sadly, they’re prone to acquired or cognitive blindness.
Typically, hamsters won’t be able to see well in complete darkness. However, they might be able to see their surroundings in low-light conditions.
That’s because your little friend is used to navigating his way through life using his other senses.
In fact, hamsters feel safe and comfortable in the dark. That’s because, in the dark, predators can’t easily notice them.
To repeat, hamsters see the world with their senses of smell and hearing instead of their eyes.
However, they can still see a few inches past their nose in dim lights. Anything beyond around four inches might appear blurry or fuzzy to them.
In other words, their eyesight is similar to a human with 20/400 vision. Additionally, they don’t see all the colors, as their eyes have a low percentage of cone cells.
Normally, light enters the hamsters’ eyes and passes through the cornea. Then, it enters the pupil, which is responsible for controlling the amount of light passing through the eyes.
After that, the light enters through the lens of the eye. Finally, it reaches the retina, which is the light receptor at the back of the eye.
The brain then translates the signal from the retina into an image. However, hamsters don’t rely on that image.
Instead, they gather other signals from their noses, ears, and whiskers to form an accurate image of what they’re facing.
An adult hamster is usually able to see only a few inches away from his face. So, it can’t see far objects.
That’s why your fuzzy friend is bad at judging heights. That said, avoid leaving your pet unattended outside its cage. You also need to be careful when playing around with him.
For example, you should avoid placing him on your shoulder. He might misjudge the height and take a jump that would end up hurting him.
Sunlight and bright lights can be a little harsh for your buddy’s eyes. Nocturnal animals don’t handle bright lights well.
That said, make sure that your hamster’s cage isn’t placed in direct sunlight. Additionally, avoid leaving the lights on at night.
Although hamsters can survive with their bad eyesight, you can still make some adjustments to make their lives easier. Here’s a list of some things you can do to take care of your friend:
- Don’t place the cage in a high location.
- Avoid leaving your pet unsupervised outside its cage.
- Wash your hands before petting the rodent.
- Don’t use perfumes or any strong scents inside the same room your pet is in.
- Avoid exposing your buddy to bright lights and loud noises.
So, are hamsters blind?
The answer is no! Hamsters have bad eyesight. They’re capable of seeing a few inches past their nose.
Luckily, they have incredible hearing and smelling senses to help them navigate through their life. Additionally, their whiskers also help them picture their surroundings.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.