Can Pet Rats See In The Dark? And How?

Pet rats are known to be awake mostly at night. But a lot of animals can’t see very well in the dark, so this is a very common question!

Can pet rats see in the dark? The truth is pet rats have very bad eyesight, both in the light and in the dark. However, they have other senses and tools at their disposal to be able to navigate freely at their most active time.

But this is just a very short answer. Keep on reading to learn more about your pet rats and even a few ideas and recommendations so they can live as comfortably as possible!

Pet Rat Eyesight At Night

Pet rats have a very different type of eyesight than us.

They can’t see very well in the dark, however, they’re nocturnal animals.

More often than not, you’ll find them very active during the nighttime, playing with each other, on their wheel, or with toys.

Some pet rats do adapt their schedules according to their owners. So there are some ratties that will start being more active during the day since that’s when we are up and about as well.

Do be ready to have lots of activity during the night though. This is one of the reasons why it’s advisable to keep their cage outside of our bedroom!

But let’s get into specifics: pet rats have two classes of cone cells in their eyes, blue and green. They use one to sense ultraviolet (UV) light and the other to sense light in the middle of the visible spectrum.

For that reason, pet rats’ night vision is poor, but, they actually have many other senses at their disposal.

Both their tails and whiskers are perfect tools to navigate in the dark, so they can go about their lives during the night!

Do Pet Rats Have Good Vision? 

Not really. Pet rats are color blind, and their sense of vision is generally poor.

They see colors similar to humans with red-green color blindness.

For pet rats, colors usually appear blurry and faint, that’s why these little rodents don’t rely on their ability to see to get around.

Look at those wonderful rat eyes!

Our ratties don’t have any adaptations for good night vision either. So they can’t really see in low-light conditions.

Despite poor vision, they still see most of what we do, just… differently! Pet rats’ eyes are located on the sides of their heads. Due to this position, they’ve binocular vision and can quickly scan two fields of view.

They do have extraordinary senses of smell and hearing, to make up for their poor vision!

With the combination of other strong senses, they’re able to navigate their way around at night with ease.

Our ratties can also absolutely recognize us and be excited when they see us though!

Even though pet rats have poor eyesight, albino rats have an even worse sense of vision and smell.

They’re also much more sensitive to light.

For this reason, they rely even more on their hearing sense than other rats.

Although there’s no need for any extra care when getting an albino pet rat, it’s always extra information that is good to know!

What do pet rats do at night?

Everything! As I mentioned above, pet rats are mostly nocturnal animals.

And with how well can pet rats see in the dark (not very well as we’ve mentioned before), they take this time to explore and do many other things at night!

Even though they can decide to change their schedule so it fits their owner’s, most of the time they’ll be sleeping during the day and go about their lives at night:

  • Exercising and Playing: Since they sleep during the day, it’s during the night that you might listen to your pet rats run a marathon on their wheel or play with each other.
    If you’re very sensitive to any kind of noise during the day, it’s advised to either leave their cage in another room or try to make the wheel a bit noise-proof.
  • Climbing: Rodents are known to be good climbers, so it’s no wonder this is their preferred way of roaming about. It’s more than natural to listen to them climbing up and down their cage during the night.
    Even though we have ramps for our little girls, they’ll choose to climb the cage walls a lot of times. I guess, they get more exercise in that way!
  • Meal Time: We do feed ourselves when we’re awake, so it’s more than natural that pet rats do the same. You might catch your ratties nibble on some food during the day, but they’ll quickly go back to sleep.
    However, it’s during the night that they’ll consume most of their food as well as drink. If you have a water bottle, you’ll probably listen to it during the night! It’s one of the most common nocturnal noises when owning pet rats. Again, if this is something that bothers you, avoid leaving their cage in your bedroom!
  • Communicating: Pet rats communicate with each other quite a lot. Since they’re awake at night, this is the time when they’ll ‘talk’ with each other.

The sounds they make are actually too high-pitched for us to hear, so this is something that won’t bother you at all during the night.

But I think it’s always nice to learn new things about our little ratties!

If the constant sounds of chewing and exercise wheel bother you at night, there are ways to deal with that so that both of you live comfortably.

We do have an article about how quiet pet rats are and there you can find some solutions!

Given how busy your pet rat might be at night, it will need all the sleep it can get in the day.

Make sure your pet rat’s cage is in a dimly-lit room during the day and that they have enough hiding places. This allows your pet to take some rest and sleep while you are at work! 

Are pet rats sensitive to light?

While pet rats are comfortable in the light, they will typically avoid it simply due to their nature.

There are also certain types of lights, like flashing lights, that pet rats may make additional effort to avoid.

Pet rats are sensitive to very bright light, which can harm their eyes. So, they prefer dark or semi-shaded environments. Bright light can particularly cause stress on albino strains, red-eyed white rats.

Albino rats have increased sensitivity to bright light since they lack the normal pigmentation of the eyes.

It’s always advisable to keep their cages in places where they won’t be hit by direct light. Not only they don’t like being near bright lights due to their sensitivity, but they also won’t react well to high temperatures.

Be it either the sun or lamps, these always transmit some warmth aside from the light, so keep them in places with enough shade so your little rodents feel comfortable at all times.

And, again, assure that they have enough hiding places. These don’t need to be spectacularly fancy. You can use cardboard boxes you have laying around at home. 

These Lixit Critter Space Pods on Amazon are also another amazing option. They have a very simple design, but are perfect hiding places for our ratties!

Related Questions

Should you leave a light at night for your pet rats? There’s no need for that. Pet rats don’t need any light to go about their lives during the night.

Their whiskers, sense of hearing, and smell play a very important part in their ability to move around at night. This way they can easily move around in both familiar and unfamiliar areas in the dark.

Since they’re not fond of bright lights, they won’t enjoy it if you leave a light on during the night. I guarantee you, pet rats will much prefer the dark, so there’s no need to worry!

Are pet rats afraid of the dark? No. These little rodents are comfortable with both light and dark settings.

Since pet rats are mostly nocturnal and active at night, that’s actually when they’re at their most comfortable state!

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