Is My Pet Rat Blind? All You Need To Know (+ Rat Blindness Tests)

Is My Pet Rat Blind? A question often asked by pet rat owners. But if so, how can you determine that? The good news is that there are two reliable ways of finding out if your rat is blind or not, and we will discuss them in a moment, including caring for your rat if they are going blind. 

Is my pet rat blind? To determine if your rat is blind, you can conduct a finger test. You can carry out the test when they’re focused on something else or in front of their cage. Keep reading to learn about how both tests can be conducted safely. However, the most reliable way to know if your rat is blind is by consulting a vet.

Before we dive into the tests, we must understand how the eyesight of a rat works and what may lead to blindness in rats, then we’ll take a look at measures you can adopt if your pet rat is going blind.

Rats do not have good eyesight

Unlike most animals, rats do not have the brightest vision. They lack what is known as 20/20 vision. Therefore, their vision of the world is blurred and hazy. 

Since their vision is not optimized to see beyond a few feet, they may not recognize your presence by sight if you’re at extreme ends of a big room. However, this is not an indication that their blind but a limitation of their vision. 

With that said, you may wonder why they’re able to detect your presence when you open the door or make a loud sound. The reason is that they have a heightened sense of hearing, not that they suddenly recovered their vision. 

A commonly underlooked fact is that rats are nocturnal animals. Even at close range, they still do not have the best vision. Therefore, before you fret about your pet rat going blind, you must remember that rats do not depend entirely on their vision. 

Rats are color blind

Rats do not experience the full range of light frequency, but they can detect ultraviolet light invisible to the human eye. 

A rat’s vision is black and white mostly, typically with a touch of other colors and most prominently grey. Therefore, a color-based test will fall short of determining a rat’s blindness, regardless of how perfect their vision seems to be

Can Rats Go Blind?

Yes, rats can go blind. Compared to other animals, rats may have a higher propensity to go blind since they are not born with excellent vision. There are myths linked to blindness in rats, with an impeccable degree of truth to them. However, the primary cause of rat blindness is poor vision. 

Does The Color of a Rat’s Eye Matter?

Yes, the color of a rat’s eyes matters when it comes to blindness. Rats that do not have red or pink eyes are known to have better vision than those that do. Also, those with red eyes tend to respond quickly to any form of light than their peers do. 

Rats with pink and red eyes are said to have a shallow depth of field. Depth of field is a term used in photography to describe the area in view which is in focus. 

If you have ever paid close attention to red-eyed rats, you may notice how frequently they shift their heads. The reason for this behavior is so that they can gain focus on objects not present in their limited depth of field. Many believe that the limited vision is the secret behind the red-eyed rat’s enhanced nocturnal capabilities. 

Sadly, that’s far from the truth. It is impossible to see without light, and the red-eyed rats are no exception, especially in low-light areas.

Albino Rats And Blindness

Albino rats have poor vision in low light conditions due to their pink eyes. So we can say their vision is a lot worse than their peers.  

According to science, rats with red or pink eyes cannot develop the same number of rod-shaped receptors compared to their peers due to the absence of melanin in their eyes. The cells that develop into the rod-shaped receptors require melanin for development

Since melanin is absent, about 1/3 of their rod cells are malformed, leaving the albino rat with poor vision.

It is sad that albino rats become disabled a few weeks after birth and may not even make it to maturity without going blind or almost blind. 

Pink + Red-Eyed Rats Can Suffer From Light Exposure

Determining a pet rat’s sensitivity to light may be a cruel experiment. However, we can safely infer that rodents with light-colored eyes will have a hard time exposed to bright light or sunlight because it could damage their fragile eyes. 

You can help them by :

  • Placing their cage as far away from bright light as you possibly can.
  • Close the curtains to limit light rays from the sun unless it is a rainy day.
  • A window panel with a darkening effect would be perfect since you can move them around if your rats are constantly changing spaces.

What Else Can Make A Rat Go Blind?

Rats are like humans, so they can go blind for so many reasons. Some of the reasons include:

  • Poor Diet
  • Sickness
  • Congenital Blindness
  • Genetics

Eye infections can also lead to blindness in pet rats. If you notice any changes in their eyes, such as bulging, swelling, or inflammation of surrounding tissue, seek help immediately. Failure to do so may lead to blindness.

Rats can also lose their sight due to play fights. Because of their sharp claws, they may injure one another in the eye, leading to blindness.

 Though you may not be able to protect your pet rat from all the dangers that can lead to blindness, you certainly can ensure that their diet is in check. You may also adopt the use of vitamins made for rats. 

Will My Pet Rat See Better At Night?

Rats are nocturnal creatures, but these little rodents are more optimized for smell and hearing than they are seeing. Not that these creatures do not see at night, they just are not visually inclined. 

In the wild, they’re more likely to flee predators by the sounds they make as they draw closer. Because fewer predators move around at night, it makes sense for them to hunt in the dark. 

How To Tell If Your Rat Is Going Blind?

To know if your pet rat is blind, you can try one of these tests. However, nothing beats the services provided by a trained vet because there is no home kit designed to serve this purpose. 

Let’s get to the tests:

  1. The finger test. To perform the finger test, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly. If you do not wash your hands thoroughly, they may likely respond to the smell of food instead of the sight of your finger. After washing, hold your fingers 3 inches away from the edge of their cage while moving back and forth, staying within their field of vision. The goal here is to see if they can keep track of your moving fingers. If they fail to do so, repeat the test a few more times to rule out blindness. In some cases, rats are just not willing to participate in the tests. 
  2. The sneaky finger test.   If your rat continues to shake its head in a manner depicting focus, raise your fingers to their side but without making noise. If your pet rat doesn’t detect it immediately – chances are, your rat may be going blind. 

What To Do If Your Rat Is Blind?

Unlike humans, rats capable of living happily with blindness, but you have a role to play. Ensure not to change their space too often or move things around their cage, as doing this can lead to confusion and distress, which may take them longer to do things their sighted peers would easier.  

Final Thoughts

Is my pet rat blind? You got the answer: In summary, there are two ways to know if your pet rat is going blind, you can try the finger test or the sneaky finger test. All of which can or may not be effective in some cases. However, it is refreshing to know that a blind rat can live a long and happy life so long as you are there to support them. If you are still worried your pet rat may be going blind, talk to a vet right away.