We all know about the squirrels. They are the small and cute creatures that chase each other on the treetop. They perform different tasks on daily basis such as they wander in the search of food. Their steady calculated and speedy motion in snatching and stashing nuts must have made you think about their eyesight. You must have thought that how much they can see. Whether they can see colors or not?
Are they color blind or not? So in this article, we will discuss how squirrels see.
Do Squirrels Have Good Eyesight?
Squirrels rely on their senses for their daily tasks especially on hearing, smell, and eyesight.
They are blessed with good vision, hearing, and smell sense because they have to respond when they feel danger.
They have to find food even when it is buried underground.
The answer to the question that whether squirrels have eyesight is, Yes they have very good eyesight. They have better eyesight than other rodents. They have good daylight vision. They have sharp peripheral vision it means that they can see things next to them and in peripheries without moving their head. This sharp peripheral vision helps them to stay alert from environmental changes and also to detect danger and predators. Squirrels have poor night vision as compared to day vision.
So here is another question why is the need for having good sight. Let us find the answer.
Why Do Squirrels Have A Good Vision?
Vision plays important role in their survival. Other rodents like mice and rats spend their time running in the dark. Since they have poor vision so they use whiskers as a navigation tool. Squirrels are not nocturnal so they keep running around the day to search for food. They rely on their vision to detect to spot predators. The visual brain area for squirrels is larger and well developed than any other rodent.
A pale yellow pigment is founded on their lenses which protect. and enhance their vision This yellow pigment helps to see in sunlight. The yellow pigment reduces glare and acts like sunglasses. It also blocks UV rays and protects the retina from damage. Morphological examination of squirrels’ eyes shows that it has wide angle vision with exceptional focusing power across the retina.
Humans have a single point on the retina which is known as fovea centralis where the cone cells are densely packed hence we humans have sharp vision. The result is that we can focus on the single central point and the peripheries remain blurred. But the squirrel can see in their peripherals without moving their head.
The squirrels also have a blind spot caused by the optic nerve passing through the retina. Squirrel vision totally bases upon the movement. They can catch an observer from a couple of feet if he or she stands still. The two types of photoreceptors, rod and cones are present in squirrels’ eyes. The ability to see in dark or low light is enabled by rods. The concentration of rods varies in different types of
squirrels. The ground squirrel has a rod density of10 % and the ground squirrel has a rod density of 40%.and the nocturnal flying squirrel has a density of 100 percent rod density. The ability to see at night varies differently in different squirrels. There is an exception in albino animals. Albino animals lack melanin pigment. Melanin is also important in the development of the retina and also needed for color in the eye. Animals with this trait have poor vision and underdeveloped eyes. However, it comes to know from some sources that squirrel with albino trait has maintained good vision.
For Extra Reading: Why Do Squirrels Shake Their Tails
Are Squirrels Color Blind?
As compared to other animals squirrels are not color blind, they can see color. Early retinal studies show that squirrels can see color but recent studies have shown that squirrels have dichromatic vision it means they can see yellow and blue color tone and cannot distinguish between red and green hues. It means that they are color blind. The red object will appear yellow-green to a squirrel. Most of the squirrels have cone-dominated media and have the dichromatic vision that is mediated by green and blue cones. Some interesting studies have shown that they are capable of distinguishing red and green biscuits.It was totally different from the information about squirrel eyesight however it was suggested that they can smell or respond to the rightness of the biscuit, not the color.
Can Squirrel See In Darkness:
Squirrels have been always classified for their strong vision from their peripheries to a focal point. They have the ability to see above and beside their head without turning their head. So it is impossible for a predator to creep on them. Their color vision is though not excellent; the yellow tint in their eyes acts as sunglasses in the sunlight. While thinking about whether these creatures see in darkness or come out at night, you must know that they are made for day and love to be in bed at night. They have good day vision and poor night vision squirrels leave their nest in the morning to search for food and scampering trees. At night time they are silent and asleep just like human beings. Night time is for a catch-up sleep and you will find them in their nest or underground.
They are not nocturnal like other critters. This also does not mean that they are always inactive, they may leave the nest at night to search for food or water but mostly they are inactive. Squirrels that tend to be active at night are mostly flying squirrels. Flying squirrels do not make many noises at night and do not talk a lot. You can hardly listen to their noises at night at your home or attic. The answer to the question that can squirrel see in the dark is, yes most of the squirrel species can see in the dark but they are mostly inactive at night and tend to sleep the whole night.
Squirrel vs Human Vision :
You may think who has the better vision, squirrel or humans? There are many similarities in both visual perceptions. Color blindness is the same for squirrels and humans. The people suffering from color blindness confuse the color spot as the
squirrel does. Humans only focus on one object at one time but squirrels have the ability to see in peripheries without nodding their head. The human retina has a very small area where vision is sharp but in squirrels, this area is spread on the whole retina.
To Sum Up :
Despite being color blind, they have excellent eyesight. The vision is also aided by yellow pigment that helps to see in sunlight and peripheral vision. These factors help them to survive in wild. However, they are more active in the daytime and have good day vision, and inactive at night time. Studies show that they can see in the dark but tend to rest in thor drey at night.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1: Do squirrels have eyesight?
Yes, squirrels have very good day vision. they also have yellow pigment in their eyes which reduces glare in sunlight and act like sunglasses.
Q2: Can squirrels see humans?
Yes, squirrels can see humans. They have a lot of visual similarities with humans. they have sharp focus than a human being and can see in the peripheries as well without raising their head. Whereas a human can focus on an object at one time.
Q3:Are squirrels color blind?
Squirrels do have color vision but they cannot differentiate between red and green. They have a dichromatic vision that means they can only see two colors blue and green. This shows that they are color blind.
Q4:Can squirrels see in the dark?
Squirrels have excellent daytime vision and poor night vision. If they tend to active at night they have exposed to all types of dangers.