Ever since I got my little Hamster, I’ve been pretty curious about its red eyes and where they come from. It was a red-eyed white Hamster.
Normally her eyes are almost pink in color, but then the light hits her eyes just right, they almost seem to glow red, but why do Hamsters have red eyes?
Red-eyed hamsters occur as a result of albinism. With a couple of rare exceptions, the hamster’s bodies are entirely devoid of color. The appearance of the red-eye comes from a reflection of the inside of the Hamster’s eye, not the color of their iris.
But don’t worry, red-eyed Hamsters (or any animal, for that matter) do not have any increased tendency to be aggressive.
In fact, many have been specifically bred to be gentle and easy to handle Hamsters. So let’s look a little deeper into albinism in Hamsters.
In general, Hamsters get their eye color from the iris.
The genes of the Hamster produce a pigment that reflects a certain wavelength of light, which makes a visible eye color.
However, albinism overrides any other genes that would act as a signal for the Hamster’s eyes and coat to produce a color.
If a Hamster has small and well-spaced melanin particles, it’ll have blue eyes. Larger melanin particles lead to brown eyes.
Albino Hamsters do not have any melanin particles to reflect. This means that the iris reflects light straight from the blood vessels. This is what gives a Hamster its red-eyed appearance.
Also, the red-eyed and white-furred Hamsters have had surges of popularity over the years.
The albinism gene in Hamsters can occur in the wild, though rare, it has been specifically bred into pet Hamsters.
Does Albinism Place A Hamster’s Health In Danger?
An albino Hamster is a healthy Hamster. If your white-furred pet has any health concerns, they are unlikely to be connected to albinism. Its immune system and internal organs will remain robust.
There is only one consideration to make around albino Hamsters. Be wary of prolonged exposure to sunlight. It can be tough for an albino Hamster to look at the sun. Its skin will also burn slightly faster than that of other Hamsters.
The red eyes of these animals are particularly sensitive to bright light. No Hamster enjoys bright light.
If you have an albino Hamster, keep this in mind. Keep lights in your home dim wherever possible. While your pet is exercising and playing outside, ensure it can regularly seek shade. If you have no trees in your yard, strategically place a cardboard box to one side.
As long as your pet can seek refuge from the sun, it will be perfectly happy. It will just need the occasional break. If in doubt, bring her inside for a few minutes. It will soon be raring to go again.
Do Red-Eyed Hamsters Need Special Care?
For the most part, albino Hamsters are the same as any other Hamsters.
The basic care (diet, size of the cage, exercise time, and more) for any albino Hamster should be exactly the same as other Hamsters.
However, you may often notice that the fur of any albino Hamsters will be stained (a little more visibly than other Hamsters).
We might also notice that the bottom portion of their feet might be just slightly yellow from sitting in their litter box.
If you have placed newspaper at the bottom of their cage, you might find some grey stains on their feet from the ink of the newspaper. However, it is completely normal, and you should not be worried.
It is pretty obvious that you will not find the pure white coat of your Hamster completely clean. However, it is important to set a routine to clean your pet’s litter box.
Studies suggest that albino Hamsters do not have as good eyesight as their non-albino counterparts. However, it is not ‘horrible’ eyesight.
When I got my first albino Hamster, I was concerned that there was something wrong with its eyesight, but after some research found that this is normal in albino Hamsters.
Sensitive To Light
Research states that the red eyes of albino Hamsters are also more sensitive to light.
This means that red-eyed Hamsters are more likely to squint and find direct sunlight painful or difficult to deal with.
As a caretaker, you should take extra precautions to make sure your Hamster always has a shelter that they can move to, so if they find the direct light uncomfortable, they’ll have somewhere else to move.
What Hamster Breeds are Prone to Albinism?
Any Hamster is capable of carrying the albino genes. Some Hamster breeds are even deliberately engineered to have the albino gene.
The most common Hamster with the albino gene available to domestic pet owners is winter white dwarf Hamsters.
However, if a Hamster has markings of any color, they are not strictly albino.
Are Albino Hamsters Blind?
No, albino Hamsters are not blind at all. It is just a myth that red-eyed Hamsters are blind.
However, the fact is they have a slightly different vision than other breeds. We have discussed this earlier in the article as well.
Sometimes even when you place a bowl of food in front of your Hamsters, they might take a while before going for it.
In this case, what they are doing is examining the object to understand what it is. This definitely doesn’t indicate that they are blind.
They have a slightly different vision. That’s all!
How Long Do Albino Hamsters Live?
The albinism in your Hamsters will not impact their health or life expectancy.
On average, they will live around 2-3 years as any other Hamster would live.
Do All White Furred Hamsters Have Red Eyes?
All white Hamsters do not necessarily have red eyes.
Red-eye usually happens due to albinism. i.e., due to a lack of pigment called melanin in their eyes.
However, if you have pure albino Hamsters, then they will definitely have red eyes accompanied by snow-white fur.
However, pure albino hamsters can have a dominant albino gene that resulted in pure white hamsters with red eyes.
The white color fur in the hamsters is definitely a result of the albino gene in their body. However, they don’t need to have red-eye as well.
Are Red-Eyed Hamsters Aggressive?
The red-eyed hamsters being aggressive is a complete myth. Albino Hamsters are just like any other Hamsters.
You must remember that the red eyes are mostly due to a lack of pigment in their eyes, also known as albinism, or due to some other health condition.
The color of the eyes has nothing to do with your Hamster’s personality or temperament. However, some hamsters might have an aggressive nature.
Most Hamsters like to live in solitude, and it is entirely reasonable. Whenever a new Hamster owner gets a Hamster with red eyes and notices that their pets are fighting, they often believe it is something with the color of the eyes that makes them evil or aggressive.
However, the reality is Hamsters have a stage of proving dominance when they are first introduced to a new environment.
It is completely normal for your Hamsters to fight with each other to determine who is the leader and who is the subordinate.
That has nothing to do with eye color.
Other Common Hamster Eye Colors
Hamsters can actually have many different colored eyes. It’s most common for them to have very dark brown eyes.
In these cases, their eyes may appear black and the iris will be barely perceptible. But less common colors also occur.
Common Hamster eye colors include:
- Black: the most common eye color that you will see.
- Blue: rare, but beautiful, you will see a distinctly blue iris on these Hamsters. Sometimes the blue will be more of a grey color.
- Pink: this is an incredibly rare occurrence where a brown-eyed Hamster has a specific set of genes that cause the iris to appear a pale pink. It is different from the red eyes of an albino Hamster
- Red: this is when a Hamster’s iris has no pigment at all, and it is caused by albinism in the Hamster.
Red Eye Infection In Hamsters
Not to be confused with albino Hamsters who have red eyes, the red-eye infection can occur in Hamsters of any color.
Red-eye in Hamsters is very similar to pink eye in humans. This is the condition that occurs when the blood vessels in the hamster’s eye swell to give the eye a red tinge.
This infection is usually accompanied by swelling, weepy eyes, or bumps around the eyes
There are many causes of red eye in Hamsters. It can result from:
- Overgrown teeth
- Bacterial infections
- Fungal infections
If you feel that your Hamster is not well and has a red eye infection, then the best idea would be to take it to a vet. The vet will help you find the cause and help your pet get better.