Are hamsters blind? All about hamster eyes (5 important tips)
Have you always wondered how well hamsters can see?
Since the animals are nocturnal, one could assume that they have accordingly excellent eyes and also the other senses are very well developed.
Whether this is actually the case, we tell you in this article!
Are hamsters blind?
No, apart from pathological or age-related blindness, hamsters are not blind. However, they rely more on smell and hearing. This can give the impression that they are blind. In addition, their vision is not particularly well developed. Nevertheless, the animals are able to find their way around without any problems.
This is true even if they actually go blind.
How good are hamsters’ eyes?
When hamsters are born, they orient themselves by their sense of smell. This is because they are born blind and deaf. After about two weeks, the ears and eyes open and the young begin to hear and see.
However, vision will never match a health human vision.
In comparison, hamsters are nearsighted and also perceive colors differently. In addition, they perceive distances spatially differently.
Nearsighted and unable to perceive spatial relationships?
At first, that sounds like a significant limitation. Yet hamsters have no trouble finding their way around their environment.
This is true even if their eyesight is lost over time or due to disease.
How dependent are hamsters on their eyes?
As “eye animals,” we humans orient ourselves to a large extent optically.
We perceive movements, threats and changes by sight. So we often rely less on smells or hearing. Thus, it is not always easy to imagine a different expression of the senses.
It is different with your hamster.
It can no longer see sharply from a distance of one meter. The spatial vision is not given anyway. Therefore, the animal relies on its other senses.
This creates advantages and disadvantages.
A clear advantage is that they can perceive especially movements well and are very sensitive to light. After all, they are crepuscular animals that sleep primarily during the day. Due to their sensitivity to bright light, they are well adapted to their living conditions.
Nevertheless, problems can occur due to the different vision.
Already from a distance of one meter, the vision of hamsters as pronounced is no longer sharp. Therefore, among other things, they do not always perceive distances and obstacles correctly.
If they try to escape and run, there is a high risk of injury. Among them, for example, falls or uncoordinated jumps from great heights.
Because of this, on the one hand it is very important to make the cage safe. On the other hand, you should be careful when holding and carrying your hamster to prevent it from falling or jumping.
But how do these little rodents manage to survive and find their way in an inhospitable area like the desert, despite limited vision?
To do this, you need to consider your animal’s other senses.
A brief overview of the other hamster senses
Hearing is very well developed in hamsters.
They can not only perceive relatively quiet sounds at a distance, but also hear frequencies in the ultrasonic range.
These are not perceptible to humans.
Therefore, your hamster may become frightened, for example, or even go into a startle, although you can’t see any reason for it.
What is clearly an advantage in nature can cause your pet considerable stress. This is because hamsters are also sensitive to noise. Loud music, traffic noise, and even the refrigerator provide a constant background of noise and can be stressful.
In view of this, it is important that you pay attention to a quiet environment!
Your hamster should be able to sleep undisturbed during the day and not be constantly frightened at night. Therefore, avoid running the TV very loudly, do not put the hamster home directly next to a window and take it seriously if your animal repeatedly falls into a startle or stands up listening.
Sense of smell
Smell is the hamster’s first developed sense.
Eyes and ears are still closed when the naked babies are born. They develop and open in the first weeks. However, the nose already serves as orientation when the rodents have to find their way around blindly.
The sense of smell is correspondingly sensitive.
This is another efficient adaptation to the original habitat.
Food such as seeds and insects as well as green fodder are rare and not odor-intensive. So tracking them down is more difficult. However, thanks to their highly developed sense of smell, animals can scent even small amounts underground and detect them from greater distances.
Therefore it is a good idea to hide the food for your hamster and thus satisfy the natural instinct. It offers a species-appropriate occupation and prevents boredom.
In addition, you contribute to train body and brain.
However, the hamster’s “good nose” does not only have advantages. Because just as with hearing, it also means that the animals can react sensitively to strong or threatening odors.
This includes cleaning products as well as deodorant or the smell of a dog.
So when cleaning the cage or hamster home, make sure not to use products with intense aromas or pungent smells. Enzyme cleaners and biodegradable products that do not contain added fragrances are good choices.
Also make sure that you rinse thoroughly with clean water. This will reduce any residue that may bother your pet.
If you observe your hamster closely, you will certainly notice the so-called “wittering” more often: This is when the animal lifts its head and holds its nose up. It moves from side to side.
This behavior serves to better perceive the source of odors. Like the ears, the nose of animals is very mobile. These movements help to distinguish weathering from shock paralysis.
Sense of touch
The sense of touch is well developed in hamsters over the entire body.
In addition to this, however, the animals also have tactile hairs.
These are very fine and sensitive hairs that can sense even slight air movements. Thus, they contribute to the orientation of your hamster in low light conditions.
So even in complete darkness, it helps the rodent to find its way.
Movements in the environment, a change of wind or obstacles can also be better noticed.
5 important facts about hamster eyes
- avoid bright light
Hamster eyes are designed to see in twilight and darkness.
Bright or even glaring light is therefore more than unpleasant for your hamster.
Therefore, choose a location for the hamster cage that is not directly in the sun or strongly illuminated by lamps. During the day, you can improve your pet’s sleep by providing suitable sleeping areas where it remains dark.
You should also offer the rodent the opportunity to create burrows in deep bedding.
- check eyes regularly
Hamster eyes are not only sensitive to brightness.
They are also susceptible to injury, disease and may even bulge out of their sockets. Inflammation and excessive protrusion require immediate veterinary attention. This is because they are emergencies that can quickly worsen and are also downright painful.
While hamsters can manage blindly, in addition to the risk of blindness, there is also the risk of your pet losing both eyes or experiencing life-threatening conditions.
Therefore, check your pet’s eyes daily and seek immediate veterinary attention in the following cases:
Discharge or heavy tearing
Encrustations on the eyes
Closing of the eyes
- make the cage safe
Because hamsters are not good at judging distances, there is an increased risk of falling, especially in a hamster home with multiple floors.
Therefore, make sure that the stairs or ladders are not directly above each other, and keep the height of each floor low.
This is not only sensible because of the different sense of sight.
A fall can cause the pressure in the brain to rise and push the eyes out. On the other hand, it may cause fractures or other injuries that can also damage the eyes.
- consider supply
Like all bodily functions, the eyes need an adequate supply of nutrients. Balanced feeding is therefore crucial to prevent diseases that lead to blindness.
Pay particular attention to sufficient vitamins and fats. These are found primarily in oily seeds, nuts, vegetables and animal products.
5) Does a blind hamster need special precautions?
Diseases or injuries leading to blindness cannot be avoided in every case.
Even incorrect holding can be enough to lead to eye loss. For you as the keeper, this is certainly frightening and raises the question of whether your hamster can still be kept in a livable condition without vision.
The good news is that it is possible. Since the other senses are more pronounced and the rodent relies more on smell and hearing anyway, he can live well even completely without sight or even without eyes.
On the one hand it is important that your animal is free of pain.
On the other hand, you should arrange the hamster cage in such a way that your hamster cannot injure himself in it and can orientate himself well. Decisive is it for this:
to avoid heights, in order to prevent falls
not to put any pointed, sharp or too hard objects in the cage
to remove climbing possibilities
not to make big and abrupt changes
So don’t change all the furniture of the hamster’s home at once, and don’t change everything completely.
This would remove or change important landmarks and confuse the animal. However, you can and should offer your hamster variety and small changes. This prevents boredom and ensures a healthy workload.
Also note that blind hamsters may react more strongly to other stimuli. It may therefore be necessary to reduce noises and smells.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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