The UV spectrum will be highly visible in the eye of the bees and some species of bats. How animals see color will depend upon how their eyes have been built and its function.

A Complete Guide on How Animals See Color

As we mentioned above, there are colors that are invisible to the human eye. However, with the advent of technology, we can have a glimpse on how the colors appear on the eye of different animals. Here are some of them.

Birds Can See More Colors than Humans

Their vision is undoubtedly, the most sensitive sense of the bird. The function of their eye is essential for hunting for food. Birds will not only perceive the colors familiar to the human eye, they can also see some parts of the UV spectrum that we cannot see.

In addition, they have better acuity. Therefore, birds have the skills to discern the small differences between the colors that belong in similar shade.

This will be difficult for humans to determine without the help of technology. The cones found in the retina of the birds are primarily responsible for the identification of these differences. Humans only have three cones while birds have four.

The cone in the eye of the birds contains oil that is effective in filtering out colors that gives the bird an extreme sensitivity towards different shades.

Filtering the wavelength enables these creatures to see the contrasts in their surroundings.

Dogs Are Almost Color Blind

Compared to humans that have three cones in the retina, dogs are dichromatic. Therefore, they only have two cones that limit their ability to discern colors.

The way dogs see color can be compared to a human with a condition known as deuteranopia. They look at yellow, green, and red with similar hue, but will only differ in the intensity.

According to the reports, the most popular color for the dog’s toy today is red. This is quite interesting since it will be difficult for the dog to see this color in the natural environment.

Therefore, if you toss him a red ball, do not be surprised that your dog will just ignore it since this will have the similar color as your grass in your yard.

While it can be difficult for them to discern color, the peripheral view of dogs is much higher than humans.

Mantis Shrimp Has the Most Complex Visual System

Mantis shrimp has a very strong claw that can stun an enemy by sending a force that measures at about 200lbs. Apart from that, it has been discovered that it comes with 12 visual receptors.

A study that was published on the Journal of Current Biology states that this creature uses filters that can separate UV spectrum in different colors that will be translated by this animal’s photoreceptors.

This is indeed the most extreme use of filter in order to broaden the type of colors that the animals can see. Aside from the 12 visual receptors, scientists also claimed that they have at least 16 visual receptors.

Mantis shrimp is the only animal that can identify circularly polarized type of light.

They can use one of their eyes to perceive the depth while their other eye is functioning independently.

Their eye is made up of thousands of elements known as ommatidia. This is a collection of pigment cell, support cell, and photoreceptor cells.

Some Snakes Can See Colors in Two Different Manners

There are species of snakes such as the family of pit vipers and pythons that can see colors in two amazing ways. They can see some hint of colors.

Apart from that, their eyes can also function to see infrared. They have a super sensitive sensor for infrared located on the snake’s head.

The tiny pit found on the side of the rattlesnake’s head is packed with thousands of receptors. These cells are invisible to the naked eye that function like an infrared sensor.

While the receptors are too small, these cells are still 10 time stronger compared to the artificially made infrared device.

The Vision Process of Cuttlefish is Different from Humans

Cuttlefish can change their color in order to blend with the environment. While this may appear astounding, cuttlefish don’t have the ability to see colors.

Cephalopods have a single protein that is color sensitive. This will limit their view to white and black. Nonetheless, they can still determine chromatic blur.

The cuttlefish’s eye has a shape like W. It will appear to be unique and alien as it stalks its prey.

The vision of this creature is blurrier compared to humans. However, cuttlefish can determine polarized and non-polarized light.

Bees Can Also See UV Color Spectrum

Bees have remarkable eyesight that have fascinated experts for ages. Humans see color depending on how the pigment will reflect or absorb light.

While the humans will be able to determine more colors than bees, bees still have the advantage with regards to range on color vision.

They have the ability to see UV spectrum that is essential in foraging nectar. Different patterns on the flower is invisible to the human eye. However, this is visible to different insects such as bees.

Bees are also trichromatic just like humans. They also based their colors perception on three colors.

However, humans will base their color on RGB (Red, Green, Blue), while the bees will base it on blue, green, and UV light. Therefore, it will be difficult for them to see red.

Since they can’t see red, the purple can be created by mixing UV light and yellow. This is the color that will attract them the most.

Cats Have Higher Visibility in the Dark Compared to Humans

The humans field view is around 180-degrees. Cats have a slightly better field view at about 200-degrees. Peripheral vision of the cats is also better that enables them to determine the presence of their prey.

However, their advantage cannot be found in all areas. With regards to color vision, humans are better especially in bright lights. Our three types of cones in the retina allows us to see broader color.

While cats also have three cones, distribution of color sensitivity varies. Based on behavioral test, cat’s lack the ability to see a full range of colors.

Some experts claimed that cats can only determine gray and blue while there are those that claimed that their vision is similar with dogs.

Cats have tapetum lucidum found in their retina. This sends the light back in the eye of the cat. This enhances their ability to see on dark places.

Bats Are not Blind

Contrary to the common misconception, bats are actually not blind. In fact, their vision is as good as the human eye. Some species of bats will use their eye and their sense of hearing when hunting for food.

There are species of bats armed with proteins that are light sensitive. This allows them to see colors. They have L-opsin that is essential in seeing red and green light, and S-opsin that identify UV light and blue.

However, most bat species do not have this. Therefore, they do not have the capacity to distinguish colors.

Some studies showed that bats can also distinguish polarized light. They will use this in order to calibrate their natural compass.

Fruit bats just like bees can see UV rays that allows them to look for nectar.

The Amazing Color Vision of Butterflies

Butterflies may not have the same vision just like humans, but they can still beat us when it comes to color perception. There are species of bats that have about 15 types of photoreceptors.

Butterflies can also see blue, green, and red. Apart from that, they can also see UV light and wideband light ranging from red up to purple.

Visual acuity of butterflies is only 0.04 when compared to humans. This will still be enough for them to see a coin placed at a bout 50cm away.

The compound eye of the butterflies comes with different facets. For instance, swallowtail, a specie of butterflies, contain at least 12,000 facets.

There are also some animals such as gecko that can identify colors in the dark. Evolution has made their eyes 350x powerful and more sensitive to the colors at dark compared to humans. Other animals that can also see dark at night include wooly lemurs and elephant hawkmoths.


While there may not be a way to precisely determine how animals see color, experts can still analyze the cones found in their retina.

This allows them to estimate the visual perception of the animals. Scientists can use the technique called micro spectrophotometry that examine the light and pigment sensitivity of their cells.

This enables the scientist to have a hint on how these animals perceive the world. They can also use behavioral test to test the animal’s color vision.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article !