Guinea pigs are pretty famous and interesting because of their eyes. Their eyes stay open for the majority of the time even while sleeping. What can be at least as fascinating as this? If you search the internet whether guinea pigs see colors or not, you will find a bunch of different opinions based on scientific research or people’s stories.
Now to answer the question, can guinea pigs see in color? It is a simple question with a complicated answer but most of the sources I looked up and researched say that they indeed see colors. I really think they can see in color because of an old scientific experiment on them that’s backed up by a lot of people stories.
Scientists tested guinea pigs by putting lettuce (a vegetable without much of a smell) in a colored bowl. In this experiment they used multiple different colored bowls (like red, blue, green, yellow). They put the lettuce in the same bowl (for example red) every time and the guinea pigs had to recognize which of the bowls had lettuce. They succeeded to recognize the bowl (red) with lettuce multiple times and they would succeed even if the bowls were rearranged.
This experiment shows that guinea pigs can be trained to associate food with colors. To do that, they need to see in color so this is why this experiment is in the center of any search that can be done on this subject.
Another interesting experiment
In order to read the whole thesis that I am going to talk about, you can access it through this link:
Anyway, I will make everything easier for you.
The experiment is about whether guinea pigs have color preferences or not. A bunch of students put four guinea pigs (three females and a male) in the same cage. Four different colored bowls and water bottles (red, green, blue, yellow) were placed in the cage. Occasionally, there were given food in a black bowl (in long vacancies). They were given the same amount of food and water in every container. The students recorded the data throughout three months.
They expected green would be guinea pigs’ choice just because they are used to green: they eat green foods, the grass is green, nature is associated with green. Guinea pigs are alert animals and they need to find comfort in things they already know. This is why the students were very surprised about the experiment actual results.
Results are kind of interesting and somehow not very useful. First of all, the guinea pigs never ate from the black bowl.
Secondly, the results were that they ate the most from the yellow bowl. They drank the most water from the blue water bottle. There is definitely no scientific explanation for this and this is the part where I say that this is not useful. It is, if I may say, irrelevant because color preference cannot be established based of four guinea pigs. The experiment would have been a lot more accurate if there were a lot more guinea pigs of different ages, genders and not influencing one another.
I don’t consider this study relevant when talking about guinea pigs’ color preferences but it can be proved that they really distinguish colors (because of that black bowl).
Technical information about their dichromatic vision
For consulting the source, you have the link here:
According to these scientific discoveries about guinea pigs color spectrum, the scientists say that guinea pigs have a dichromatic vision. This means they can distinguish colors, but not as good as humans do. It is thought that guinea pigs can differentiate red, yellow, blue and green. It is thought that they have a sensitivity to green. This hypothesis is not in contradiction with the students’ experiment as they didn’t quite prove guinea pigs actually have color preferences.
Scientific details about guinea pigs’ vision
Scientists say that guinea pigs see much better than most of the animals.
Some sources claim that guinea pigs are able to see 33 images per second while us, humans, can only see 22 images per second. This means they see the dynamic motions more accurately than humans. Also, their range of vision is about 340 degrees while people have a 180 to 200 degrees range of vision. This is allowing them to see their surroundings without moving. This is one of their adaptation in nature: they are prey animals and they need to be alert and cautious every single second.
Proofs based on people’s stories
I have found a lot of online forums talking about guinea pigs’ sight. Most of guinea pig owners think that their beloved little pet can distinguish colors. This is because the rodents have different reactions when seeing different colors. For example, a lot of girls wrote on forums that whenever they wear bright-coloured nail polish, their guinea pigs are going to lick they fingers or toes.
Almost the same thing goes for clothing.
Do guinea pigs see in the dark?
There are some speculations that they actually see in the dark, at least that they have a limited vision in the dark (3 to 5 feet away). Although, we cannot be sure because they have developed smelling and hearing. Also, their whiskers play an important role at night. These three things are the trio that mostly helps guinea pigs move around at night. That the reason behind our confusion: we cannot know for sure how developed is their vision.
Why do some scientists think guinea pigs have poor eyesight?
The disclaimer that we cannot be sure about anything is also applied to this.
There are some things that may be contradictory and can confuse you so far. Guinea pigs are thought to distinguish colors, they see 33 images per second which is more than humans, but somehow they have a poor eyesight?
This phenomenon can be explained easily.
Basically it goes like this, they don’t have a good eyesight because they really don’t need it. They have adapted in different ways to survive in nature.
Animals, in general, adapt to their environment, whatever that is, in order to survive. Now, let’s take our particular case. Guinea pigs are definitely prey animals so their main goal is to survive by keeping themselves away from danger. Logically, they need to see accurately (talking about speed), as any second might save or take their lives.
Prey animals play dead when they sense danger so it’s very important for them to be able to see the predator without moving at all. This is why they don’t need a good eyesight they just need to see in wide angle (as they actually do). If they see the predator in details they are going to be scared even more.
In addition, it makes sense for them to distinguish colors because it might be their way of actually seeing movement around them.
The last reason why they don’t really need good eyesight is, as I’ve already said, that they use their smell, hearing and whiskers to know what are their obstacles and to move around freely.
Many readers of this article are owners trying to find out if they can make their little pet’s life better (in other words, to see if guinea pigs have color preferences).
To be honest, we, as humans, cannot be sure of any of this. Based on a lot of different studies and opinions I found, guinea pigs definitely distinguish colors. They have a tendency to be a little more excited when seeing a bright color from the yellow-red spectrum (according to forums) or a sensitivity to green (a hypothesis I talked about in the article).
I cannot give you a certain answer, but I can definitely tell you that studies show that guinea pigs distinguish colors. They might be more excited when seeing a bright color just because it is more outstanding; this doesn’t mean that they prefer bright colors. Being equally impartial, it’s the same with green, just because they are used to see green they do not necessarily prefer it.
Another thing is that, even though guinea pigs are not as evolved as humans are, they are considered pets with personality. Wouldn’t that mean that every guinea pig has its own favourite color?