If you have a ferret as a pet, you might be curious about how it sees and can move through the night. They may even be active at certain hours of the night and follow a particular sleeping schedule.
As many ferret owners may already know, there are certain things about ferret vision. For one, you should never expose them to sudden bright lights. Now, with your pet ferret, you may want to know if these nocturnal creatures can see at night or how dark affects the ferret’s vision.
As an overview, ferret eyesight makes it hard to adjust to sudden changes, hence the bright lights above. However, in dimly lit areas where some light is used, they don’t have as many vision problems, and your ferrets’ eyes work best.
In our guide, you can learn more about do ferrets have good eyesight and how they cope with dark conditions. By the end, you’ll see they have a unique vision from many other animals and have good vision and bad eyesight at the same time. (Read What Happens If You Quit Feeding Raccoons)
Do Ferrets Have Good Eyesight
In reality, ferrets don’t have the best vision. Because ferrets’ eyes are positioned more to the side of their heads, they have “binocular vision.”
The eyesight of ferrets is poor compared to that of humans, and this binocular vision also referred to as stereoscopic vision, leads to poor depth perception issues. Much of this comes from these little creatures having eyes that are slightly more to the sides of their heads.
However, not all ferrets are like this:
Because of domestication, domestic ferrets differ from their wild relatives, like the American black-footed ferret and European polecats, as their eye sockets can be positioned in another region of their skull. The ferret’s eyesight struggles to perceive depth and can’t differentiate objects at a distance.
You can see why it makes sense for your pets to launch themselves off tables as they think the floor is closer. But, if that wasn’t bad enough, they also have a blind spot under the nose.
A ferret-proof home can go a long way to keep them safe.
A ferret may not see much detail in your face, yet to communicate with each other, their poor eyesight isn’t an issue as they rely on nearsightedness.
Can Ferrets See At Dawn And Dusk?
Crepuscular behavior is typical of ferrets. This implies that they schedule their daily activities around the sun’s rising and setting times (twilight hours) rather than seeing clearly in the pitch dark. Ferrets are more active in the twilight period, which is between dawn and dusk, and in these conditions of the twilight hours of low lighting, they can see better than humans.
At dusk and dawn, ferrets’ eyes thrive best during the “twilight hours,” a genetic trait passed down from ancestors who hunted at these times. Despite seeing in low light better than humans, a ferret has eyes glowing as they reflect available light to help with vision. (Read Are You Supposed To Eat Shrimp Tails)
A ferret’s eyes appear to glow in different colors. According to the ferret’s species and their eye color, you can find:
- Albino Ferrets: Red eyes glow greenish to pink
- Maroon Eyes: Eyes glow red.
- Blue Eyes: Eyes glow red.
- Brown eyes: Eyes glow green and yellow.
The horizontally slit pupils in ferrets’ eyes are another feature that helps them see more than a few feet in low-light situations. A ferret sees more clearly in low-light conditions and is better at detecting surfaces and edges.
Lucidum tapetum in Latin means “bright tapestry.”
Tissue sitting behind the retina in a ferret’s eye is referred to as the tapetum lucidum, where cones and rods of the eye receive visible light to help more in very dark conditions.
Ferrets Are Crepuscular
It is not surprising that ferrets are crepuscular, given their keen eyesight. This is where an animal will live in response to the sun’s rising and setting. An animal most active at dawn and dusk in low light conditions is called a crepuscular. So, naturally, this is when their eyes work at their best.
A ferret will therefore sleep for roughly 14 to 18 hours each day. When the moon shines, they become more and more active. A ferret will engage in most of its behaviors and activities during dusk hours. This covers burrowing, hunting, mating, and other activities.
They rely heavily on their other senses, especially hearing and smell, but the ferret eyes will alert them to simple movements and shapes outside the twilight hours.
How Do Ferrets Get By With Poor Eyesight
The tapetum lucidum trait is a characteristic of ferrets. It means a ferret has a thin layer of tissue behind its retina. Visible light can pass through the retina and into the cones and rods of the eyes, thanks to the tissue’s ability to reflect it.
The brain, as a result, perceives a slightly brighter but blurrier image. Animals with this trait typically benefit from enhanced night vision. Unfortunately, ferrets are an exception because of additional factors contributing to their poor dark eyesight. (Read Can Cats Kill Chickens)
However, this ability is excellent for ferrets during twilight hours because it allows them to amplify low light conditions to get better vision, but at the expense of losing detail. It explains why your ferret’s eyes glow in low light.
They compensate for their poor eyesight with their other senses of both hearing and a remarkable sense of smell, especially in the dark. To better understand their surroundings, ferrets have hearing receptors in their ears that are carefully positioned. These receptors enable ferrets to hear predators approaching from a distance and make away quickly.
Their excellent sense of hearing prevents your ferret from noisy areas, which can cause extreme anxiety. Positive reinforcement is always the better reason for action when disciplining your ferret because you don’t want to yell at them.
Ferrets have an excellent sense of smell, and they excellently use it to interact with other ferrets using this sense of smell. So powerful is this, when young, they won’t eat prey until they recognize the smell. They engage in various scent-marking behaviors, such as body rubbing and anal dragging, using their sense of smell.
The ability to recognize other ferrets and you, the ferret owner, is something else that ferrets use to explore their surroundings and identify them. Ferrets rely so heavily on their sense of smell that they will not consume prey whose smell they were not exposed to as young kits.
Do Ferrets See Red & Blue?
Ferrets can see red and blue spectrums, and they have a level of color blindness that causes trouble for them and leaves them vulnerable.
Ferrets’ wide-angle vision is well known. However, perhaps the only aspect of their eyesight that aids in protecting them from predators is peripheral vision. They don’t need to move their heads around much because their eyes are more on the side of their head.
They can quickly locate their food in the wild thanks to another advantage of this vision.
Ferrets Binocular Vision
They may be clumsy, and you might see them bump into things or fall off tables. But they are having this difficulty because of their poor eyesight. In actuality, it goes beyond just poor eyesight. Their peculiar behavior is also a result of their stereoscopic or binocular vision.
They have better peripheral vision than we do because their eyes are positioned more on the sides of their heads. However, this bad vision impairs their ability to see directly in front of them and affects their depth perception.
The ferret won’t be able to the ferret owner if they suddenly pick up the pet ferret because their vision gets too hazy at that point. There is a blind spot directly in front of them. They can’t detect surfaces or other objects, so they sniff their food or other items.
They are better able to comprehend their situation thanks to the scent. It is also one reason to be careful if you have other pets, as they won’t like loud noises, bright light, and music.
Can Ferrets Recognize Humans?
They may not see well, but that doesn’t mean they can’t recognize their owners. Not only do they recognize their owners well, but they also recognize every family member.
They recognize and form bonds with other animals and family members because these pets are highly social creatures. Because of this behavior, they are intelligent and make excellent pets.
This “recognition problem” results from new owners being unfamiliar with the ferrets’ characteristics. Young ferrets mistakenly believe something is wrong with their vision, which prevents them from understanding who their true owner is because of their apparent rude behavior.
But young ferrets aren’t the coziest creatures. Although they are active, you can’t count on them to be affectionate with you because of their intense curiosity and suspicion. (Read Can Rabbits And Ducks Live Together)
As they age, ferrets develop bonds and become more affectionate. Therefore, give them time to grow up if your pet doesn’t show affection. They’ll eventually fall asleep in your lap if you just keep loving them.