How Can Hedgehogs See in the Dark?

hedgehog hunting for food at night as owner wonders How Can Hedgehogs See in the Dark?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that spend the majority of the daytime sleeping but spring into physical activity at night when most humans are asleep. As a first-time hedgehog parent, you may have lots of questions on your mind surrounding their nature and way of life.

This article answers the question “how can hedgehogs see in the dark” by revealing whether their vision is more enhanced during the night in addition to details about the overall quality of their sight. We also answer numerous peculiar questions on your mind to enhance your knowledge and make you the best hedgehog parent possible.

How Can Hedgehogs See in the Dark?

Hedgehogs enjoy improved vision in the dark due to their nocturnal tendencies but their overall vision remains poor. They’re almost color blind and may only see colors around the Brown and Cream areas of the electromagnetic spectrum. They also struggle to recognize their owners by face and only do so through scents.

Despite their vision limitations, hedgehogs are able to enjoy productive lives whether domesticated or in the wild. Their exceptional hearing and smelling senses make up for the terrible vision and help them survive.

Their vision problems largely account for their nocturnal nature because becoming active during the daytime could expose them to predators such as Bobcats and Foxes.

Are Hedgehogs Blind?

Hedgehogs may not have the best vision but they’re far from blind. Babies are born blind but they gain vision at about 2 weeks old when they are more familiar with the new environment.

A hedgehog’s vision is restricted to general outlines of certain items like cage components but they do not go around barging their heads into every object in their path.

Even those born blind due to genetic defects are able to enjoy meaningful lives since these cute little guys do not rely on their vision too much. Just don’t rule out occasional incidents of running into items in their path.

What Can Hedgehogs See?

Domesticated Hedgehogs may have no problems seeing the outlines of various cage components. Hideouts, running wheels, and food bowls are a few of the items they should be able to recognize even if vision is blurred.

Wild hedgehogs have no problems detecting the outlines of trees, puddles of water, or plants that may serve as their food sources. They also pick up on predators that may have gotten close and quickly curl into balls to protect their soft underbellies from getting attacked.

How Far Can Hedgehogs See?

Hedgehogs are nearsighted and are only able to see from a few inches away at best. Since their vision is restricted to shadows and outlines, the likelihood of missing out on items that may be a bit farther away is much higher.

Are Hedgehogs Sensitive To Light?

Nocturnal animals are sensitive to light and hedgehogs are no different. They spend the majority of the daytime sleeping in a bid to avoid sunlight and other forms of natural light. Taking them out in the sun increases their stress levels and leads to numerous defects.

For the best daytime sleeping experience, we recommend covering their cages with blankets to block natural lights. Wild hedgehogs stay away from lights during the daytime by burrowing deep in the ground.

This explains why it can be extremely rare to spot those hedgehogs in your garden unless there’s some emergency of some sort. Hedgehogs in desert habitats where underground burrows are scarce may hibernate throughout the summer season to escape the bright daylight.

Why Do Hedgehogs Have Terrible Vision?

One school of thought says earlier breeds had an exceptional vision but it declined to the current level over centuries of evolution because they had no practical use for it. These creatures are nocturnal and spend the daytime sleeping in their cages when domesticated or in deep underground burrows in the wild.

Another school of thought says they were not always nocturnal but their terrible vision forced them to sleep during the daytime and become physically active at night. This evolution over time became necessary to increase their chances of survival in the wild where predators abound.

Do Hedgehogs Blink?

Hedgehogs blink routinely which helps them ward off dust and dirt while maintaining moisture in the eyes. Blinking is normal behavior in many mammals and does not pose health problems so no need to worry after spotting it in your pet hedgehogs.

Do Hedgehogs Recognize Their Owners?

hedgehog in the hands of a human but Do Hedgehogs Recognize Their Owners?

Hedgehogs may struggle to recognize their owners by face due to their terrible vision. However, they are able to detect their owner’s scents and voices which makes it easy for them to rule you out as a potential predator.

Experts recommend allowing your hedgehog to smell your hands before picking them up to minimize the risks of startling them. As long as you take the time to bond with them, your cute quill babies will fall in love with your presence and desire to spend more playtime together.

Are Hedgehogs Color Blind?

Hedgehogs are almost color-blind like many nocturnal and crepuscular beings including hamsters. They are able to recognize Brown and Cream shades in the electromagnetic spectrum but all other colors are seen as Black or White.

The retina of Hedgehogs features 4 percent Cone cells and 96 percent Rod cells which is relatively low compared to humans with 25 percent Cone Cells and 75 percent Rod cells. Hedgehogs are not entirely color-blind but may struggle to identify colors that are not close to Brown and Cream. (Source)

Can Hedgehogs Detect Infrared Light?

Hedgehogs cannot detect infrared light because their vision is restricted to 500nm in the Blue region of the electromagnetic spectrum. This restricted vision may come in handy during nighttime movements because they’re able to detect mobile objects like predators although vision becomes harder during bright lights in the daytime.

What Are the Common Eye Problems in Hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs may be prone to eye problems that can lead to discomfort or even deterioration in eyesight and a few of these include:

Bulging Eyes

As previously stated, hedgehogs have less than stellar vision meaning they’ll always be at risk of barging into cage objects, especially during the daytime. This can result in physical accidents that may translate to swollen eye sockets.

Damaged eye sockets can lead to eye-bulging in hedgies just like head tumors which may also have the same effects. We recommend taking your hedgehog to the vet immediately after spotting signs of this condition for further tests and treatment.

Eye Irritations

hedgehog in the woods suffering eye irritations

Eye irritations are common in hedgehogs since they easily get exposed to dust and debris in their cages. Wild hedgehogs are even more prone to the condition due to the nature of their environments. Besides, they spend the daytime burrowing underground so eye irritations are to be expected.

Signs of irritations include constant rubbing of the eyes or even the inability to open the eyes due to pain and discomfort. Pet hedgehogs may suddenly try to hide their eyes during playtime which is a sign that urgent veterinary care is required.


Mites are more prevalent on the hedgehog’s skin but it is not uncommon for them to infect other areas like the ears and eyes. Hedgehog eye mite infestations can cause significant distress leading to paleness or flakiness around the retina and other eye areas.

Affected hedgies may spend more time scratching their eyes resulting in dandruff or even quill losses.

Conclusion: How Can Hedgehogs See In The Dark?

Hedgehogs enjoy improved vision in the dark because they’re nocturnal beings that are more active at night. They’re sensitive to light which often deteriorates their terrible vision even further and this explains why they hardly come out during the daytime in the wild.

They prefer burrowing deeply in the ground until nighttime before coming out since the probability of predatory attacks is much higher during the day.

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