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Do Pet Mice Have Good Eyesight?

One of the widely known things about mice is that they don’t have very good eyesight. They rather rely on their other senses when it comes to finding food and moving around in the world. Both mice and rats tend to run into things in their surroundings until they learn where exactly everything is around them.

They also don’t see the world in such a colorful way as we do. Some colors seem much weaker from their point of view and red is completely excluded from their spectrum of colors. Instead of distinguishing one small detail from the other, the way they see has a different purpose.

Their eyesight is well-developed for detecting motion around them, which is also why their eyes jut out from their skulls.

Can Pet Mice See in the Dark?

Mice are nocturnal and prefer to be active throughout the night. They only come out during the day if they absolutely need to. Them being nocturnal is also what makes it hard to catch them because they are usually active while we sleep.

Seeing in the dark rather means seeing things in a low-light environment. No animal can see in absolute darkness. However, mice and rats can’t see in a low-light situation either. Unfortunately, them being nocturnal doesn’t mean that they can see better during the night.

Their vision is just as poor as it is during the day, if not worse. When the lights go out, they start relying on their whiskers. They are also good at feeling the temperature of objects near them and figuring out where those objects are.

How do Pet Mice Get Around?

First off, mice are so good in detecting motion with their eyes that they can notice a moving object from 45 feet away. They don’t see any detail, of course, but this helps them a lot when they are on the lookout for threats.

Their whiskers help them a lot when they want to get from one spot to the other. By constantly moving their head, they can quickly figure out whether there are any objects close to them. You can see this a lot when watching videos about mice trying to get out of labyrinths.

Their hearing is probably their best sense. Their big ears allow them to pick up certain sounds that us humans can’t hear. Even the slightest noise can set them alert, allowing them to avoid encounters with predators.

However, when they are looking for food, they mainly rely on their nose. Their smelling is their fine-tuned sense that helps them survive out in the wild.

Do Mice See Colors?

We can understand how a mouse sees things if we take a look at how red-green colorblind people see them. This means that they can distinguish between a few colors and that’s all. For them, the world is full of shades of gray while they can also see shades of blue and yellow occasionally.

The structure of their eyes is different. While us, humans, have trichromatic vision, mice and rats have dichromatic vision. This means that they have one less cone pigment in their eyes which greatly reduces the number of colors they can see.

With three cone pigments, one can see all the combinations of green, yellow and red. Mice can’t see red at all and their eyesight is reduced to noticing movement around them.

Are Mice Born Blind?

Mice are basically born blind but not because their eyes are not functioning. It is just that they are born with their eyes closed. They don’t see anything until their eyes open, which is around two weeks of age. Whether we are talking about old or young mice, their eyesight is the same.

As we mentioned above, it is pretty bad compared to our eyesight but mice rely more on their other senses. Guinea pigs are a good example of rodents that, unlike mice, are born with eyes wide open. But being born with eyes closed is not uncommon among mammals at all and it is definitely not something to worry about.

Are Red Eyed Mice Blind?

Mice with ruby, red or pink eyes are often thought to be blind but this is actually not true. Still, they have a worse eyesight than mice that have a darker eye color. As we explained above, all mice have poor eyesight but for red eyed mice, it is slightly worse.

It is a noticeable difference because red eyed mice always seem more confused in new environments. They need to go back and forth a lot before they finally figure out where everything is around them. But the most important thing is that they are still not completely helpless.

Red eyed mice also have good hearing, smelling and their wiskers are just as sensitive as of the darker eyed ones. You, as the owner, are not going to notice any significant difference. Red eyed mice are also intelligent and they can be just as playful as other mice.

Conclusion

We can conclude that mice don’t have good eyesight at all but this is not a problem either. They don’t even need good eyesight if you consider how they live their lives in general. They mostly rely on their other senses which are all outstanding.

Their whiskers are super sensitive, they have good hearing and their smelling isn’t bad either. With the help of these senses, they can absolutely thrive in many environments. Moreover, the fact that they can notice a moving object from 45 feet away is more than enough for them to identify potential threats.

All in all, bad eyesight doesn’t impact their life in a particularly bad way. It is just difficult for us humans to imagine how could one live being color blind and only seeing blurs instead of details. For them, it is completely normal and it also doesn’t prevent them from establishing a strong bond between them and their owners.

In the typical home aquarium setup, they can thrive and enjoy themselves without any problems, which is all that matters.

avatar I’m Peter King, writer and editor of this blog. I’m a lifelong animal advocate and volunteer at the Animal Rescue League. On this blog I help people learn about pet mice. As a responsible pet owner, you should learn about your pet’s need before getting it. If you have any question or need help, please leave your comment below.

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