Things You Never Knew About Hamster Vision

Hamsters usually have very poor eyesight. Hence, they would use their other senses to fulfill their day-to-day duties. Keep in mind that hamsters have a strong sense of hearing and smell. They use these characteristics to recognize objects and humans around them. When they grow in the wild, they would not usually want to have a proper vision since they would live underground most of the time.

Hamsters usually forage for food and hang around in the darkness during the night. When they come back, they would use their good sense of sound, smell and touch and then make their way back to their regular places. In this article, I have elaborated further on the hamster vision and if you are interested in discovering more about the hamster’s vision, it would be worthwhile going through this article.

Can hamsters see?

Hamsters can see, but it is a few inches past his nose only. It is noteworthy that hamsters are born completely blind and when they reach adulthood only they will start to see. The reason for this is, hamsters usually dig burrows and they would stay active only during the nighttime. They are used to growing in low lighting levels and not in bright light levels.

Further, since these are nocturnal animals and they live underground it is not necessary for them to see well. As described above, they would use the sounds, scents and touch to interpret the things around them. The interesting thing is, they can see only a few inches past from their nose and due to this, it is very unlikely that they can see their owners. They can feel, sense and smell you. But most probably they can not see you.

How Hamster’s Eyes Work

Hamster eyes are very similar to other mammals. When they look at something, the light will reach their eyes. Thereafter it would pass through the cornea which is more like a transparent layer around the eye.

That would allow the light to enter the eye, be it both visible and ultraviolet light. Next the light would pass through the pupil which is another opening. That is what regulates the level of the light entering the eye. If the light is too bright it would shrink and if the light is too dark it would expand.

Next the light would pass through the lens which would filter some light. Thereafter the light would bend if necessary. Next the light would pass through the vitreous body which is more gel-like. After that it would become more focused on the retina. You could find the retina at the back of the eyeball. Its duty would be to translate the light into electrical signals. Those signals will then pass to the brain through the optic nerve.

The Hamster retina is constructed with different cells. If I name them they are such as rods and cones. These are known as photoreceptors. This literally means once they receive the light, they would transform it into light energy which will be sent to the brain as signals. Thereafter , these signals would trigger biological processes. For example, they would trigger sleeping and waking patterns.

Rod cells would help the hamsters to see things in low light conditions. On the other hand, cones would help the hamsters to see in bright light. Further cones contain light sensitive protein pigments or photopigments which are called opsins. What is special about the cones is that they are sensitive for different wavelengths of light.

If we consider other mammals, they usually have just blue and green opsins. As such they can only see these two colors. However humans usually have red opsins. Usually all the animals would usually have both rods and cones but in different amounts. However hamsters usually have many rods as they are pretty active in the nighttime.

If I explain more about their eyes, they have fairly large eyes. They have a big pupil along with a larger surface on the retina too. It is beneficial to collect more ambient light. The eyes of the hamsters are spherical. They would usually come up in a wide range of colors. For example they would come up in bright pink, clear pink, dark red, dark brown and dark black. The color of the eyes would vary depending on the hamster breed.

What is a hamster’s vision like?

Hamsters have poor vision. They could see things from a very close distance. They cannot identify the owner’s face if they are more than a few inches away. In fact whatever the objects they see more than a few inches away would be visible for them as blurry and fuzzy. That said, they will see things well during dim light conditions.

This is more like an adaptation thing which they have gained to be more active during the dawn and dusk. Hamster’s view on the world is more like black and white along with faded shades of green and a bit of blue. However since they consist of more rods it has helped them to have a better vision in low light compared to the humans.

Having said that, the excellent hearing skills of the hamsters and the ability to sense the smells have helped the hamsters to survive in the world.

How good are hamsters’ sight? 

Hamster vision is good at night (only for close proximity). But at day time they can not see well. Hamsters are nearsighted and they would find everything fuzzy and unfocussed to them most of the time.

Can hamsters see me?

If you are very close to the hamsters (I mean nose to nose close), yes they can see you. However what usually happens is that they would recognize you only from the sound of your voice and from the unique scents. To familiarize with them it is vital that you spend some quality time with them so that they can get used to you.

So, the simple answer for the question of whether the hamsters can see you, no hamsters would not get to know you by sight if they are far away. That said if you are closer to the hamsters, they will be able to see you. However if you are more than a few inches away , they would find you blurry , fuzzy and blob.

How do hamsters see humans?

As explained in the above, hamsters would not see the humans if they are not close enough. For example even if you stand right Infront of the cage, they will not recognize you. That being said they will recognize you from the scent and from the sound of you. People believe that hamsters cannot see humans and sometimes they get scared when their owners approach them.

However most of the time what happens is that if you are somewhat far and if the hamsters didn’t recognize you they may probably misunderstand you as a predator. So, if you want the hamsters to see you properly, you should go towards them slowly. If you are far away, it is very unlikely that they will identify you as a bigger animal. They will be disturbed by the noise of the TV or by the smell of food.

As such what you could do is , you need to ideally speak to the hamsters softly and clearly once you go closer to them. Don’t disturb them all of a sudden. When you approach the hamsters, they will see you. They would indicate that they saw you by showing some signs.

How far can hamsters see

Hamsters can see only a few inches from their nose. Hamsters are born blind just like other animals. As they reach adulthood only, they would be able to see a few inches from their nose. Hamsters have large eyes when you compare those with their body sizes. That would allow them to maximize the amount of light which enters their eyes. However still they will only be able to see only a few inches In Front of their nose.

Hamsters’ eye lenses are quite contrast with the humans’ eyes. For example, the human eye lens can change the shape and focus the light. However, hamsters’ eyes are rigid. This literally means they cannot change the shape of the eye or focus the light well.

Hamster vision vs human vision

In simple words, the hamster’s eyesight is completely different to a human’s eyesight. As aforesaid hamsters are nearsighted unlike the humans. Hence they cannot see which are far. Due to this, hamsters use their sensory skills and hearing skills to see the world. Hamsters are crepuscular animals which means they are active at dawn and in dusk. Further they would spend most of the time in the burrows and due to that they are not used to doing their daily work in natural light.

In terms of the differences of the humans vision and the hamsters’ vision, humans eyes would consist of about 6 million of cones and 92 millions of rods. On the other hand, hamsters’ eyes would contain about 293 thousand cones and 9 million rods. When it comes to the light spectrum of the humans they will have a light spectrum of about 380 nm-700 nm whereas the hamsters would have a light spectrum of about 450 nm-550 nm.

Furthermore, humans will have a full color spectrum whereas the hamsters will only have a color spectrum of shades of green blue and purple. Humans are diurnal creatures. This literally means they can see in conditions where there is bright light. We can have a full color spectrum which is totally different to the hamsters.

Do hamsters need light to see?

Yes, hamsters need light to see. However they don’t want as much light as humans require. Hamsters can pick up ambient light. That said they wont pick up light as much as the cats and owls do. This proves the fact that hamsters can see better in low light conditions when compared to the bright sunlight during the day time. You must remember hamsters cannot see in pitch dark too.

So, if you were ever wondering whether you need to turn on a light in their enclosure, no you don’t need to turn on a light during the nighttime. You need to ideally turn off the light and they will be completely fine with that

It is important to know whether hamsters need light at night. We may have the answer. Let’s read Do Hamsters Need Light at Night?

Can Hamsters See UV?

Hamsters are sensitive to UV light and they can see it. As you may already know there will be more UV light during the daytime. So, it is very rare that they will encounter it. If we consider humans on the other hand, it is important that they get UV light to conduct their day to day work. However UV light is not beneficial for the hamsters at all.

The exposure for UV light would confuse the hamsters and obstruct their sleep as well. In fact when the hamsters see UV , they know that it will be their bedtime. So, I don’t recommend exposing them for any type of UV light since it would not bring any benefit for the hamsters. Having said that, hamsters would be able to see urine marks quite well in the UV light. Further UV light would help the hamsters to navigate during the day if it is necessary for them.

If we further elaborate on this taking the Syrian hamsters into consideration, they would react to UV radiation quite well. In fact they contain some of the additional photopigments which allow them to see the UV light well.

How do hamsters survive without good eyesight?

Hamsters have adjusted to survive with the eyesight they have. In the wild hamsters live in underground burrows and those burrows do not receive light well. So naturally, they are adapted to low light conditions. And underground they do not use their eyes much. They always depend on their hearing and senses.

Even though they don’t have good eyesight they can hear you well. Besides, they have very good senses too. In addition to that, they use their teeth and claws to get various things done. If we further look into these, hamsters have good hearing and it is incredible. This is exactly why they would wake up with the slightest noise you make.

Furthermore, they use their scent glands on their body and leave a clear scent so that they can find their route back to the cage. These characteristics help them to find food and to protect themselves from predators as well. Lastly, they would use their teeth and claws to burrow into the ground when they want to be secure from predators.

Can you improve your hamster’s eyesight?

It is somewhat difficult to improve the eyesight of the hamsters as they have been constructed naturally in that way. Their eye cells would not enjoy the bright light. This means they will never have a proper vision. That said, you could consider feeding the hamsters with certain vitamins which would help them to protect their eyesight they have. For example, you could feed them food which has vitamin A. Carrots and lettuce would also be quite useful for them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can hamsters see ghosts?

Although it is not scientifically recognized, many people believe hamsters can see ghosts. In fact they believe many animals can see ghosts and hamsters would be the same.


So, to sum up, the hamster’s vision is quite weak. As such it would be difficult for them to make out the details. If we compare the eyesight of the hamsters with humans , hamsters only have an eyesight which is equal to 20/400 with humans. This literally means they can see things which are very close to them only. Whatever the other stuff which is beyond these distances would be only blurry.

Having a proper knowledge of the eye sight of the hamsters is quite crucial when it comes to understanding your beloved hamsters well. As a responsible hamster owner you should be well aware of these facts so that you could provide the best care for them and attend to their requirements.

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