The perception of colors and ability to make out certain ones is based on particular cells in the eye called cone photoreceptors.
Depending on how many cones we have depends on the colors we see and means a lot of animals see them differently to us.
Because of these differences in biology, many animals are considered ‘color blind’ by our standards, dogs for example can only see yellow, blue and violet while cats can see blues and greens, but not reds.
Hedgehogs are an interesting case because while we know hedgehogs are nocturnal and their regular eyesight is not great, what colors can they actually make out when on their starry walks through a field or forest?
Other nocturnal animals, such as owls for example, are color blind themselves after all having reflectors in the back of their retina that only lets them see grays, blacks and whites.
So do hedgehogs really see the world as an old black and white movie reel or is it a bit more colorful than that? Read on to find out whether hedgehogs really are color blind, what colors they can see if any, and if they have clear vision in the night time.
Are Hedgehogs Color Blind?
Hedgehogs only have two photoreceptors compared to humans and most other primates who have three, which means they struggle to see most colors and by our standards would be considered color blind.
While they have been known to be attracted to some colors and even proven to be able to fully see a very small amount, they unfortunately can not witness all the beautiful shades that we can.
This means that mixed with their very poor eyesight, hedgehogs in the wild often can only make out the outline of what they are facing with no clear color distinctions to help them make out what they can see or where they are going.
This is the reason many hedgehogs get startled so easily, they could think that a sock in front of them is a venomous cobra.
While this may seem like a big disadvantage out in the wild, hedgehogs are not really too bothered about their poor eyesight and color coordination since their other senses are so efficient and reliable.
A hedgehog’s hearing is incredibly long reaching with a frequency up to 45,000Hz, they of course also have their prickly shell of spiky quills to protect them along with a keen sense of smell to seek out any food or lurking predators.
What Colors Can Hedgehogs See?
So are there any colors hedgehogs can see clearly? While more research needs to be done to be exact, there are some colors hedgehogs have been known to be attracted to and recognize.
Green and yellow are the primary colors hedgehogs can recognize, being the same color as the worms hedgehogs eat which may make sense for why they can make it out.
Other than different shades of these two, it is uncertain but unlikely hedgehogs can see other colors very clearly at all.
Red for example, which is a color the majority of animals can visibly see, cannot be seen by hedgehogs who can only see the shades of yellow and green with any confidence.
It is generally accepted that hedgehogs prefer dark, more muted and dull colors to bright and shiny ones.
Many owners report that their prickly friend will recognise a dark yellow or green and walk towards it while they remain neutral and even actively avoid more bright and colorful objects.
Can Hedgehogs See In The Dark
So while they struggle to see colors, like some other nocturnal animals it is possible hedgehogs could still see the world in a different lens to us by having enhanced visibility in the dark, it would certainly help them steer clear of predators they might be walking right into.
In fact this is still hotly debated by scientists with much more research being needed.
Because they are nocturnal and always have been, there’s a chance their eyesight has adapted to the night time and could even have superior vision during the night than the daytime.
However, given just how poor their eyesight is, it is unlikely they can have a real grasp of every detail or any extra colors in the world around them at night.
Additionally, hedgehogs naturally live and travel through tall wild grass and often weave on the base of the grass, so even if they could see through the night their vision would be obstructed most of the time anyway.
Along with their poor eyesight, hedgehogs unfortunately cannot see the world in it’s colorful beauty as we can, though they are known to always recognise the colors of their favorite wormy snacks
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Hedgehogs Need Lights?
This is quite a common question since because they have an avoidance of big bright colors, and sleep for most of the day, is a bright light needed in taking care of a hedgehog?
Depending on the climate, season and regular weather patterns where you live, natural light is an option to shine into a cage and keep a hog happy and warm.
Natural light is not always optimal however especially in winter or if you’re in a darker and wetter climate.
Manual light sources are far more optimal and should always be used by hedgehog owners.
The rule of thumb is that you should supply your hedgehog with 12 hours of light a day so they can then get 12 hours to roam around in the night time.
This is important because of just how long hedgehogs love curling up and napping, sometimes up to 16 hours of the day, so it is up to the owner to make sure they’re not cold.
Keeping hedgehogs in the dark for too long can cause them to hibernate which can be dangerous for hedgehogs as some types are not even likely to survive the process due to lack of body fat or continuous breeding, so even though your hog may not like bright colors, they will more than appreciate the warmth a light lets off.