Children love animals, so when it comes to getting a family pet, you decide on a hamster as it’s a low-maintenance pet. They let it roam free before bedtime, and you’ve noticed that it bumps into walls sometimes. Is it that they can’t see at night?
In pitch darkness, hamsters cannot see. Low-light conditions enable them to see better, similar to ambient light, but not too far out since they are nearsighted. They can sense movement and see a few inches in front of their noses; and that’s about as far as they can get.
Picking a hamster for a first-time pet is an excellent choice for the household. It is a perfect choice, especially for children, since their dedication requirement is pretty low. They are inexpensive, don’t take up a lot of space, are easy to clean up after, and don’t require much social interaction.
There are important things about hamsters that people need to know before getting one as a pet and important information about what hamsters need to thrive in a home environment.
What To Know About A Hamster
Hamsters are rodents, and they belong to the subfamily Cricetinae. They have been mistakenly credited as nocturnal animals, but they don’t qualify because of their eyes. It often looks like animals have bigger eyes compared to humans when they have nocturnal vision.
The eyes in nocturnal animals are bigger, and they tend to have pupils that open more in a low-light environment. Animals like cats have round, vertical pupils, which allow them to have good vision during the day and even better at night. They are hunters, and it helps them when looking for food.
Hamsters don’t have enormous eyes, but they do have a panoramic field of vision just like humans do, which is quite helpful despite everything. The fact that they don’t have big eyes like an owl is one of the reasons why they are not nocturnal, but they are not diurnal either. They fall in the middle category; they are crepuscular animals.
A crepuscular animal is the one that feels the most active during the evenings or on cloudy and cool days. Many factors can impact how an animal may feel during the day; some may even exhibit more energy than others. With a hamster, the need to adapt to its surroundings is one of those reasons.
Is It All About Adaptation?
Hamsters are almost at the bottom of the food chain because big animals eat the small ones. With such a small size, they need to make sure they outrun predators. And it might be one of the reasons why they tend to go out at night, to avoid major dangers.
Hamsters are nearsighted and colorblind. Nearsightedness is an eye condition where they can’t see distant objects because they look blurry, but close ones can look normal. With colorblindness, they are unable to see differences in colors. Because of these two issues with their vision, hamsters struggle with not having a good sense of direction. Keep in mind that just because they don’t have a perfect vision doesn’t mean they don’t know who you are. Because of what hamsters lack in sight, they make up with the fact that they can see movement around them. In the wild, it keeps them safe from predators; and at home, it tells them when their owner is near.
Are Hamsters Sensitive Animals?
In the wild, hamsters like dry places, and just because they prefer nighttime doesn’t mean they hate daylight. There are some things you can do to make your hamster comfortable in your home, based on their needs.
- Keep the hamsters away from direct sunlight. The light won’t hurt them, but it can make them sleepy.
- Turn off the lights at around the same time every night. Everyone deserves a routine, so please don’t mess with their schedules.
- Keep their cage away from high-frequency sounds that are faint to humans. The sound of a computer, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, AC compressor may cause them anxiety.
- Although hamsters have more of a nightlife doesn’t mean you have to keep your lights on all the time for them to move around. They can do just fine in the dark with just a little light to make out shapes. But even with their color blindness and shortsightedness, they still depend a lot on the sense of smell and touch.
What Can You Do For Your Hamster’s Vision Deficiency?
Hamsters have poor vision; they are even born blind, and by the time they are fully grown, they can only see a few inches in front of them. And since they are not in their natural habitat, there are a few things you can do for them to make them feel at home.
- They can’t tell who you are and will probably never know what you look like or recognize you among a crowd. Hamsters can smell you, though. From the start, the way that you should introduce yourself is by holding your hand inside the hamster’s cage. Once he realizes you are not a threat, he’ll try to get a sniff. Keep on doing this every day until he feels comfortable enough with you. Speaking to it can help as well; he might not see you, but he can see and smell you.
- If you need to wake him up, try talking to it, and when it starts coming around, try not to make any sudden movements. He might not be able to see you, but he will probably sense any unwelcome movement around it, and that can be stressful.
- They can see UV light. You may think, how is this helpful? But ultraviolet light is mostly available during the day, and some animal body parts could reflect UV light as well. So, be careful if you take them outside; if hamsters can see this light, so could some predators.
- Studies have shown that hamster’s vision is monochromatic, meaning they see everything as one color, probably black and white. But other studies have seen some reactions to colors like blue and green. So if you were planning on getting some new toys for your hamster, pick those colors to see if they react more positively to them.
- For the hamster’s safety in the cage, place ramps and accessories not too high, preferably low enough to serve its purpose, but at eye level. Eye-level for the hamster, so they don’t miss it or run into it.
- Don’t place hamsters on a surface that they can fall from; nor, on someone’s shoulder. You can’t be sure they’ll be able to keep the balance, so don’t play with their safety.
- Hamsters can get eye problems just like anybody else, and it is your job to be aware of any changes to correct them as soon as possible. Any eye problem or infection can eventually lead to total blindness. The following are things to be on the lookout for:
- Protruding eye. If you look at your hamster from above, can you see their eyes sticking out of their sockets?
- Sticky eyes. Just like conjunctivitis in humans, they can have secretion coming out of their eyes.
- If you see swelling around the eye, it could be a sign of infection. They could also rub their eyelids inside, which is quite dangerous.
Keeping an eye on your hamster and scheduling regular visits to the vet can be helpful for your hamster’s eyesight.
Ready For Your First Hamster?
It may seem like getting a hamster is an easy choice, but like any other pet, you should do some research to see if you are willing and committed to giving that pet the life it deserves. Something as simple as not letting it loose in a park, as you would with a dog, is the difference between getting lost and going home without it, or even worse, getting attacked by a predator. A hamster is a member of a family so take care of it as well.
Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.