Do Guinea Pigs See in Color? [Guinea Pig Eye Sight Explained]

How Capable Are Guinea Pigs of Seeing Color?

Guinea pigs and their vision is certainly an interesting subject. Guinea pigs in comparison to other similar rodents actually have great vision. As a prey animal, it’s essential to have good survival abilities and vision is certainly one of the most important traits to have.

To answer your question “Do guinea pigs see in color?” Yes, they can. To get technical for a second, guinea pigs have dichromatic color vision. Which basically means they can only see certain blends of colors. Guinea pigs can see colors but not the full spectrum entirely as humans do. 

can guinea pigs see a full range of color

The link here is an academic study into spectral sensitivity and color vision in guinea pigs if you fancy a little more hardcore reading. I’ll break it down in an easy way anyway.

Explanation of How Guinea Pigs See Color

As humans, we have  3 different types of color receptors (cone cells) in our eyes that can perceive different blends of colors. Red, Blue, and Green. RBG codes making sense now? Hamsters have only 2 of these cones, therefore they can only perceive blends of colors from these two cones, with sensitivity to some and less to others.

dichromatic cones

It is thought that guinea pigs can understand the difference between the colors quite well as proven in various experiments. It’s worth noting that although they can tell colors apart the color they perceive in a lot of cases can be different from what we as humans see. Although some will likely be the same.

I’ve been trying to find some detailed research in which color receptor guinea pigs are missing and have yet to find any concrete scientific backed evidence. Although the general understanding is that guinea pigs are sensitive to red and highly sensitive to the color green. This is yet to be confirmed, if you know please send me an email to confirm. I hope this answers the question “do guinea pigs see color” at the very least.

color spectrum for guineapigs

How Do Guinea Pigs See the World?

Guinea pigs have their eyes on the side of their faces. This grants them a wider range of vision than humans. Guinea pigs have a 340-degree view of their surroundings. As a prey animal vision of the surrounding areas is essential for survival. This is a common trait of prey animals, you will see most prey animals have the same eye placement. Opposed to predators who generally have their eyes on the front of their face, enhancing their ability to focus on single targets. Guinea pigs can also process images quicker than humans, which helps them react more quickly.

eye sight test for guineapigs

Guinea pigs obviously see the world much differently from humans. Not just in colors and the range of vision but also with range and depth. Guinea pigs in comparison to a lot of animals have poor eyesight and struggle with depth perception. It is thought that guinea pigs can only see around 1 meter (3-5ft) in front of themselves, which isn’t very far. Guinea pigs will use their other senses to compensate for their eyesight. They use smell and hearing in combination with their memory. 

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Guinea Pigs Are Animals of Routine

Guinea pigs are animals of routine. Once they are familiar with certain noises or smells they will associate these things with certain events. We might think they can just see us approaching with food, but the chances are they hear us and smell the food much earlier than they are able to see us.

In the grand scheme of things in the animal world guinea pigs have pretty poor vision but make do by compensating with their other sense and their memory of recent events.

Can Guinea Pigs See in the Dark?

The chances are if you’ve ever owned a guinea pig you will have heard them scurrying around at night. Some guinea pigs are actually more active at night, but they are certainly not nocturnal animals. This brings us to our question, “Can guinea pigs see in the dark?”. There is overwhelming evidence that guinea pigs cannot see in the dark, despite some blogs claiming they can.  

eyes in the dark

The reason some people mistakenly think that guinea pigs can see in the dark is that they are quite capable of navigating around their enclosures at night which makes a lot of owners confused. “How can my guinea pig move around if it can’t see?”. The truth is that guinea pigs are so familiar with their own habitats that they navigate them without the need for sight whatsoever. Guinea pigs actually have pretty decent memories, they can remember how to navigate through mazes, and retain information quite well.

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They also use their sense of smell to move toward things such as bedding or food. As humans, it’s hard to understand the power of smell certain animals have. In comparison to our sense of smell, the guinea pig is impressive, to say the least.

So should you leave a night light on for your guinea pig? I mean he can’t see, right? The truth is having a night light can be confusing for guinea pigs. It has a chance of confusing their natural body clock and daily routine.