Can Gerbils See In The Dark? Know The Real Facts

Gerbils are not entirely nocturnal creatures and they have crepuscular behavior. so many of you are wondering if gerbils can see in the dark.

It is a popular debate about gerbil’s night vision. Some owners claim that they can see in the dark and others say their eyesight is just like ours. It’s true that gerbils have good vision. But it does not mean they have special eyesight for night vision. Gerbils cannot see when it is too dark. Yet, they have special skills for identifying food or threats in the dark.

Can Gerbils See In The Dark?

Can Gerbils See In The Dark

Gerbils don’t have good night vision but they can see in low-light conditions. While they cannot see as well in complete darkness as animals like cats or owls, they do have the ability to navigate and find their way around in dimly lit environments.

Gerbils have large eyes and specialized eye structures. Their eyes are positioned on the sides of their head giving a wider field of vision. This allows gerbils to take in more light and detect movement from various angles.

Moreover, gerbils have a high concentration of rod cells in their retina. These rod cells are responsible for detecting light, especially in low-light conditions. Gerbils also possess a reflective layer behind their retina called the tapetum lucidum, which enhances their night vision by reflecting incoming light back through the rod cells. This amplifies the available light and improves their ability to see in the dark.

It’s important to note that while gerbils have better low-light vision than humans, they still rely heavily on their other senses, such as their sense of smell and their sensitive whiskers, to navigate their surroundings in darkness. Overall, gerbils have evolved to have impressive visual adaptations that allow them to function well in low-light environments.

Do Gerbils Have Night Vision?

Gerbils have excellent vision in their own right. When it comes to night vision, the key roles played in an animal’s eye are the rods and cones. Cones are responsible for color vision and are active during the daytime, while rods are active at night and enable vision in low-light conditions.

Gerbils have an interesting balance of these cells in their retinas. According to research published in Vision Research, gerbils have 87% rod cells and 13% cone cells. This means they have a higher proportion of rods compared to cones, indicating their adaptation for better night vision.

While gerbils may not have night vision as acute as some purely nocturnal animals, their high proportion of rod cells suggests that they can see relatively well in low-light conditions. This adaptation is particularly useful for their crepuscular lifestyle, as they are most active during dawn and dusk when natural light is fading or emerging.

What do gerbils do at night? 

Since gerbils are diurnal, they are most active during the day. This behavior classifies their natural habitat and lifestyle, and they are adapted to environments with abundant daylight.

During the day, gerbils engage in various activities like foraging for food, grooming themselves and their cage mates, social interactions, and exercising. They have a keen sense of curiosity and are often busy exploring their surroundings, enjoying a blend of play and relaxation.

Gerbils do not have a preference for the dark. In fact, they are not nocturnal animals. However, they do adapt to their environment and show some activity during the evening hours if it aligns with their surroundings.

If you observe gerbils at night, you’ll likely see them eating, playing, and exploring their habitat. At night, they may explore their enclosure for food and enjoy their meals when they find them.

Gerbils can eat at any time of the day or night.

Playing is another significant part and often engage in various play behaviors at night to keep themselves entertained. These activities can include chasing each other, wrestling, and even jumping around. It’s a way for them to learn new skills and explore their environment.

Lastly, gerbils are naturally curious creatures, and they use the nighttime to investigate their surroundings. This includes checking out new areas of their enclosure and inspecting objects they haven’t seen before. This exploration helps them stay alert and avoid potential dangers.

Do Gerbils Need Light At Night?

Gerbils have vision that is perfectly functional in dim light or during the night. Their eyes are adapted for low light conditions. So there is no need to add additional light in their enclosures. They can see and move around without any issues even when it’s dark.

In essence, what gerbils need for a good night’s sleep? They need darkness, which replicates their natural habitat conditions. It’s essential for creating a comfortable and stress-free sleep environment for them.

Do Gerbils Have Good Eyesight?

Gerbils have better eyesight than other rodents in their categories. But it comes with some interesting twists. They can see clearly, especially when it comes to long-distance vision. Their eyes are adapted to spot distant objects, making them quite adept at detecting potential threats from afar.

One remarkable aspect is gerbils can see colors, but they are red-green colorblind. They can perceive the world in various shades, which is a unique trait for these tiny creatures. Also, gerbils can detect ultraviolet (UV) radiation, just like other rodents. This UV vision allows them to see things that are invisible to the human eye, adding an extra layer of complexity to their visual perception.

Even though Gerbils lack great depth perception, they compensate with a wide field of vision. They can see a broad area, both above and below, which is helpful for spotting dangers or predators. This wide visual field helps them maintain awareness of their surroundings and stay alert.

Though gerbils are good at spotting distant objects and potential threats, they do face some challenges with close-up vision. Their eyesight for close-up objects is relatively weak, making it harder for them to locate food or perform simple tasks that are close to their eyes.

Daylight And Gerbils

Gerbils, like humans, are diurnal creatures. Diurnal animals are active primarily during the day, and they follow a day-night cycle that aligns with the sun. However, this doesn’t mean gerbils sleep when the sun goes down. Just as humans have periods of activity during the night, gerbils also be active during the evening.

Gerbils do enjoy the tranquility that nighttime brings. As the surrounding environment becomes quieter and calmer, gerbils use this time to wind down and prepare for sleep. You might notice that their activity becomes more pronounced during this time, especially because the usual daytime noise in your home has subsided.

Gerbils don’t sleep in long stretches like humans do. Instead, they have shorter sleep and awake cycles. A typical gerbil will sleep for an hour or two, and then be awake for a similar duration. This pattern allows them to conserve energy and recharge their bodies on a regular basis.

In households with gerbils, living with humans can sometimes influence their activity patterns. They may be more active during the day when the household is bustling and sleep more at night when it’s quieter. However, even in such conditions, gerbils will often have periods of nighttime activity.


Gerbils have good low-light vision. They can see well than humans in dim light, but they are not capable of seeing in complete darkness. The rod cells and whiskers on their bodies have been adapted to thrive during dawn and dusk.

So, while gerbils may not possess night vision as we often think of it, they have their own unique way of seeing in the dark.

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