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When most people think of a hamster, the image of those black beady eyes springs to mind – but is this a correct representation? In this article, we’re going to be answering the question of what color a hamster’s eyes are, as well as learning a little more about the optical organs of these amazing creatures.
What color eyes do hamsters have? In the main, hamsters can have black, brown, red or pink eyes. This can largely depend on the species; for example, the Campbell’s dwarf hamster features bright red eyes and an albino coat. In contrast, the Syrian hamster, which is the most popular domestic breed, usually has dark eyes that are either brown or black.
Whilst most people assume that a hamster has black eyes, there are some distinct variations on this, and it may surprise you to learn that the color of your hamster’s eyes is usually determined by its coat and other factors.
How does the coat have an impact on eye color?
We mentioned that the color of your hamster’s coat could play a role in what color his eyes are.
Each coat color will have corresponding eye colors.
For instance, those with golden coats will usually have darker eyes, whereas white or lighter coats tend to have lighter colored eyes.
This is similar to humans; those with blond hair usually have grey or blue eyes. In contrast, humans with black hair tend to have brown eyes.
Let’s take a look at the most common coat and eye color combinations in these cute little rodents.
- Albino hamsters have white fur and red eyes. These little cuties have different pigmentation levels to other species and have to do with a particular enzyme being produced in just the right conditions.
- Hamsters with a grey or brown coat and a white belly, known as Agoutis tend to have slightly darker eyes.
- Black hamsters are totally black – this includes both the fur and the eyes.
- There are cinnamon hamsters whose eyes are red and whose coats are a light, cinnamon brown.
- Opal hamsters also have red eyes and their coat is ordinarily white on the belly and a blueish-grey over the rest of the body.
But, much like their owners, there can be anomalies.
One of the most common anomalies in hamster eye colors is known as heterochromia.
This is a condition that is seen across a variety of species, including humans and other domestic pets such as cats and dogs.
Those with heterochromia have two different colored eyes. In hamsters, this could be vividly obvious or a little more subtle.
It is commonly accepted that some hamster’s eyes may change as they get older. In most cases, the eyes will become darker over time.
This is far more common in those with red or pink eyes and can be quite apparent to their owners.
Does the color of the eyes affect the eyesight?
Before we look at how the hamster’s eyesight is affected by the color of their eyes, it is essential to get a good understanding of their eyesight in general.
As nocturnal animals, the eyes of hamsters are made up slightly different to our own.
Whilst they do feature the same components – an iris, pupil, lens, retina, optic nerve etc. how they operate is vastly different.
Hamster’s eyes are more spherical than ours; one of the most prominent examples of this is that their lenses are not as flexible and are designed to remain open to let in greater amounts of light.
This is essential when in the wild and hunting in dark conditions.
Furthermore, thanks to their nature, hamsters do not need to have such precise eyesight as other animals.
When in the wild, these little creatures spend a significant amount of time under the ground.
This is replicated when kept as a domestic pet – you will have likely noticed that your hamster likes to bury himself under bedding and other things in his cage.
Hamsters who escape the confines of the cage can usually be found hiding in dark places or underneath objects.
Additionally, hamsters have much larger pupils than humans and many other animals; it is for this reason that many people are under the impression that they have only one color in the eye.
However, the opposite is true.
There are subtle differences in the tones of each eye, but their large pupils make this difficult to see.
Red-eyed hamster and eyesight
One of the most common problems for hamsters is that they can often fall off things as a result of their poor eyesight; however, it is essential to remember that the color of your hamster’s eyes will not have a bearing on how well they can see.
That being said, there is some evidence to suggest that hamsters whose eyes are red may be more susceptible to certain optical health conditions like cataracts.
This is similar to humans with albinism who are more susceptible to these types of conditions and are at greater risk of blindness, either partial or complete.
Hamsters are lovely creatures and make excellent pets; this is evident when we see how many globally adopt one into their family. However, one of the most common musings of hamster owners is what color their eyes are.
In the main, hamsters eyes are either black, brown, red or pink but there can be variations on this and the species and coat color both play a role in what color eyes your hamster will have.
Furthermore, their eyes may change over time, getting darker as they get older.
Your hamster doesn’t have excellent eyesight, but for those with red eyes, this may be slightly worse since these animals are more prone to eye-related health conditions.