can rats see better at night in the dark

Are Rats Blind? Is My Pet Possibly Blind?

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Are Rats Blind? Is My Pet Possibly Blind?

Rats cannot see quite as well as many animals, but they are not blind. Of course, there is always the possibility that they might go blind for various reasons throughout their lives. There are various ways to test for blindness in rats, but it is important to know that rats do not have perfectly clear vision as it is. On occasion owners might become worried that their rats are blind.  If a rat is taken care of properly, it is unlikely that the rat will go blind. However there are several factors at play in this particular situation.

Can Rats See Very Well?

Rats do not have the best sight. While they can see, their vision is particularly blurry. They are also only able to see decently within a few feets’ distance, making them relatively near sighted. They can still see very vaguely at distances, but rats tend to rely on their hearing more than sight. They might seem like they can see you, but the truth is they probably heard you opening a door or walking and are looking in your general direction waiting for you to come within their field of vision. Even up close, rats’ vision isn’t perfect; vision is not their most important sensory tool.

What Colors Can Rats’ Eyes See?

lines-520430_1280Unlike humans, rats cannot see a full color spectrum. Instead, they see colors such as blue, green, and ultraviolet. Ultraviolet is the highest frequency color on the color spectrum, and they can see it! Unfortunately, a majority of their vision is varying degrees of white, gray, and black, with a little color splashed throughout.

Are Pink Eyed or Red Eyed Rats Blind?

pink eyed white rat laboratory animal
White rats were a rare occurrence in the wild, but then scientific purposes caused their populations to explode.

Pink eyed rats, or red eyed rats, seem to have a much harder time with their vision. Red eyed and ruby eyed rats seem to be much more sensitive to light as well. Their depth of field is actually pretty horrible, and red eyed rats can be seen swaying and bobbing their heads in order to see the objects in front of them. They are reputed to be able to see better in the dark than their darker eyed counterparts; this is not true. Albino eyes are actually less able to see in low lighting. Rods and rod photo receptors are severely hindered in the pink eyes of lighter colored rats, because a melanin precursor is required to ensure their development. Instead, nearly one third of the eye’s rods never develop as they should, proving albino rats have much worse vision. Many albino eyed rats have either severely disabled vision within a few weeks of birth, while the rest seem to go nearly blind. It is not unlikely that a red eyed rat will become blind later in life.
It is also quite possible that long periods of sun exposure may be more harmful on their delicate, fair colored eyes and eyelids. These light colored eyes need extra protection, so all pink eyed rat owners need to make sure to give these sensitive rats a nice dark place to rest their eyes. It is also advised to avoid putting bright lights near the cages, such as large lamps or accent lights. Keep the cage away from windows, except for on cloudy days. This will keep excessive light out of their eyes, sparing them any extra discomfort. You can even purchase some cheap room darkening window panels, I advise getting super long ones and pinning them up so they can be reused as the rats move around the home (or in the event that the family moves to a different house).

What Makes a Rat Go Blind?

800px-BabymouseIllness, injury, eye type, malnutrition, and genetics can all cause blind eyes in rats. If a rat gets a severe eye infection, or the rat’s eye begins to swell and bulge, it can lose its eye if it does not get adequate medical care. Injuries are another top offender, as a rat could hurt its eye in its environment, by scratching, and during fights. Rats who commonly fight need to be monitored, and they need to be separated if the issue continues or escalates. Rat claws can easily slice open a fragile ratty eyeball, even by accident! For the pink eyed rats, they are by nature worse off than black eyed rats.

They simply cannot see well, as their eyes do not develop as they should. Many go blind over the course of their lives, as discussed above. Your part as an owner is to prevent blindness due to malnutrition by providing a proper dietary formula, one that provides essential nutrients that support eye health in rats. Rat multivitamins can help as well. Genetics are completely unavoidable (think PEW’s), meaning that a lineage of rats could be riddled with blindness. This is usually due to a genetic mutation or flaw; it can be bred out of the line usually, but rats with these types of genetics should not be bred.

Do Rats See Better In the Dark at Night?

can rats see better at night in the darkIt is believed that since rats like to come out during the night, that they are much more capable of seeing at night than during in the day. As previously mentioned with the red eyes, this is not true. Their night vision is nonexistent. Instead, rats hunt, travel, eat, and nest at night because that is when there are fewer predators. The world is much more quiet, allowing them to hear any potential predator much more easily. Rats rely heavily upon their hearing, sense of smell, whiskers, and memory to get around.

Does My Rat Have Healthy, Good Vision?

rat-757836_1280Rats eyes need to be examined every once in a while to ensure good health. If you are curious as to whether or not your rat is able to see, there are a few tests you can perform to find out. This may only help to diagnose whether or not a rat is blind.

  1. Pass your finger in front of the cage slowly, at least 3 inches from the cage. DO NOT handle food before doing this, as you do not want the rat following the smell. Instead, you want the rat to follow the finger by sight. Sometimes, rats are just uninterested; try doing this 4-6 different times over the course of the day. If the rat fails to follow each time, he or she may be blind.
  2. Watch for the swaying and weaving (bobbling) of rats when they are standing still. If they do this, it means they are trying to focus in on what they are looking at. Slowly bring your clean finger near them on one side, being careful not to make a sound or touch the whiskers. If the rat does not turn its head towards your hand, it is likely that the rat is very close to blind.

Can Rats Be Color Blind?

Rats have a very limited spectrum of color that they can see.  Therefore, they are not quite color blind. A majority of a rat’s vision is made up of the spectrum between white and black, with some slight blues, greens, and violets being visible.

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