What colors do Ferrets see? Ferrets Vision Explained (2023)

In recent years, ferrets have become quite popular as indoor exotic pets. These small furry inquisitive creatures make great pets due to their highly active nature. Their running around the house, squeaking, and playing with toys and various other items is one of the cutest things to watch. Due to close inhabitation with these animals, various questions often surface concerning their behavior, eyesight, etc. Often, we have seen pet owners asking a common question, “What colors do Ferrets see, and what Ferret’s vision looks like?

To answer the question, Ferrets see the world in only three colors- red, gray, and to some extent, blue. They can perceive only certain low wavelength shades of blue and not colors like purple. A ferret perceives colors that lie in the middle of the visible spectrum like green, yellow, and orange as grey.

Later in this post, we will be discussing in detail the vision of ferrets and what colors ferrets see. So without much ado, let’s dive into our article, “What colors do ferrets see? Ferret’s Vision Explained.”

What colors do Ferrets see?

Ferrets can perceive the world in three colors- red, blue, and grey. While red serves to be the primary perceived color, blue is perceived only in its low wavelength shades. The colors lying middle of the visible spectrum, namely yellow, green and orange shades, are perceived generally as grey colors.

Light is perceived with the help of special cone cells in the eye, which detect the colors based on their wavelength. These are of three types, S-cones, M-cones, and L-cones.

Can horses see colors

The S cones or blue cones detect wavelengths of 430 nm, M-cones or green cones detect 530 nm, and L-cones or red cones do that of 560 nm. Ferrets have two types of cones, L-cones and S-cones.

The L cones are in the majority, and the ratio of L to S is 14:1. This means they perceive almost all shades of red and little of blue (only those shades which have relatively shorter wavelength among the rest). Due to the absence of M-cones, Ferrets perceive the middle colors as grey. They can perceive even ultra-violet light.

Can Ferrets See in the Dark? Ferrets Night Vision

Ferrets have quite a poor sense of vision. However, these animals can see better in low light conditions. Dawn and Dusk are the times when Ferret’s visions function best. However, their vision performs poorly under complete darkness, where they turn almost blind.

Ferrets have pupils, which are described as slit pupils. Their pupils are horizontally slit, which response quite quickly to light. This adaptation gives them the vision to see perfectly in low light conditions.

The presence of tapetum lucidum further enhances their capability to see in low light levels. However, the cells responsible for being visible in the darkness, i.e., rod cells, are quite less in number in ferrets.

Ferrets can see best in low-light areas but not in the dark. Their night vision isn’t as enhanced to give them the ability to see in the dark.

Though their pupil shape helps them to see in the dark, in pitch dark or complete darkness, they cannot see anything. To put together, darkness with little light is best suited for their perfect vision.

Do Ferrets have good eyesight?

Ferrets have quite poor eyesight in comparison to their other senses of the body. Ferret’s vision isn’t as enhanced as other animals like cats, dogs, and even humans. Let us dive deep into some facts and see why the Ferrets do not possess good eyesight.

Vision is basically of two types, monocular vision and binocular vision. What Ferrets have is binocular vision, but its degree is quite low, only 40 degrees frontally. Their eyes are on the side of their heads, which in turn equips them with better peripheral vision.

What colors do Ferrets see

This implies that they can see on their sides without turning their heads around. Their peripheral vision helps them to pass through narrow complex spots without bumping into anything.

Ferret’s eyesight has another feature, a blind spot located exactly in front of their nose. So if you bring anything right in front of their nose, it is likely that your pet might not recognize it.

So remember, the next time you bring your pet too close to your face, it might have a hard time recognizing you. Under such cases, Ferrets use their acute sense of smell and touch to identify objects.

The depth perception in Ferrets isn’t quite enhanced either. They cannot perceive objects located far away. On the other hand, ferrets see nearby objects with better clarity.

Their depth perception works best with objects located nearby. In fact, for closer objects, Ferrets can see objects with better detail than humans, cats, or dogs.

Their axis is long with a horizontal orientation. This helps them to scan the ground for prey and food.

How far can Ferrets see?

Ferrets are close-sighted creatures. Their vision falls short when they have to see objects located at a distance. Farsightedness is absent in Ferrets, and their depth perception also does not function well beyond a few feet.

As mentioned earlier, Ferrets cannot see far objects. Their depth-sensing works best only up to a few feet, beyond which they cannot see well.

Ferret’s vision isn’t as advanced as its other senses, and when it comes to seeing objects located at a distance, it does not function well. To put things together, they can see objects well if it is within a few feet of distance. On increasing the distance further, the clarity and depth perception decreases considerably.

Ferrets Vision vs Human Vision

Ferret’s Vision Human Vision
1) The peripheral vision of Ferrets is quite large.  1) Humans have a very limited peripheral view, 100 degrees from the 170-degree field view.
2) They can perceive only three colors, Red, blue, and grey. They have only two cones. L and S, in the ratio of 14:1. 2) The Human eye has all the three-cone cells, S, M, and L cells, which perceive as many as 100 shades and nearly a million combinations of the same.
3) The blind spot in Ferrets is located near the tip of its nose. 3) The blind spot in humans is located somewhere in front of each eye. However, we hardly notice it as our other eye makes up for it.
4) The light threshold required for vision in ferrets is very less than in humans. 4) The light threshold required for vision in humans is nearly 5-8 times more than in Ferrets.
5) Ferrets’ visual cortex has been divided into 6 regions. 5) Humans have six divisions in the visual cortex.
6) Ferrets can perceive Ultraviolet rays.  6) Humans cannot perceive ultraviolet radiations.
7) Rod cells predominate over cones in a ratio of 50-60:1. 7) In humans, rod cells predominate over cones, in a ratio of 20:1.
8) The Nictitating membrane in Ferrets is well developed. 8) The Nictitating membrane is absent in humans. However, the semi-lunar folds function homologous to the nictitating membrane.
9) Ferrets have a pupil, which is ovoid in shape. 9) Humans have more of a circular pupil.
10) Ferrets are not far-sighted and can see well only up to a few feet. 10) Humans can see quite distant objects easily, even more than 2-3 kilometers.
11) The binocularity in Ferrets is quite low, only 40 degrees frontally. 11) Out of 190 degrees of total field view, nearly 120 degrees are comprised of binocular vision.
12) Ferrets have a tapetum lucidum, a membrane that helps in photoreception and also acts as a reflective membrane. 12) Humans, on the other hand, do not possess a tapetum lucidum.

Common eye diseases in ferrets:

 Ferret’s vision gets greatly hampered due to the onset of several diseases. These diseases interfere with their normal eyesight and also with what colors Ferrets see.

Below are listed a few commonly occurring diseases that Ferret pet owners need to be careful of and take precautions for the sake of their furry friends.

Common eye diseases in ferrets

Cataracts: One of the most widespread diseases in Ferrets. Diseases like diabetes further increase the chances of cataracts. This can cause visual disruptions or, at times, permanent blindness. Treatment includes anti-inflammatory drugs and surgery, which, however, is relatively risky for Ferrets.

Retinal atrophy: Another common disease seen in Ferrets is Retinal atrophy, where your pet will slowly lose its sight. There is currently no cure for this disease.

Glaucoma: This is a disease of the lens, either caused by a cataract or trauma. The lens, most of the time, falls backward, caused by pressure that builds up within. Since the animal is already blinded, permanent removal of the eye is the best solution for pain relief.

Lymphoma: A commonly occurring cancer in ferrets, where a tumor grows behind the eyeballs, eventually pushing it forward. Treatment includes surgically removing the tumor and chemotherapy.

Here, we conclude our article on, “What colors do Ferrets see? Ferrets Eyesight Explained.” Hope it has cleared all mist of confusion regarding Ferret’s vision and what colors Ferrets see. We will be back with another informative article. So until then, stay tuned or read our other articles on the website.

Also Read: