Are Squirrels Color Blind? {How Squirrels See The World}

Do you wonder if squirrels can see what you see? Are Squirrels Color Blind?

Which colors are hard for a squirrel to see? Which ones are easier? Why do some colors confuse or scare away squirrels?

In this article, we will discover if squirrels are color blind.

Are Squirrels Color Blind?

Squirrels have excellent dichromatic color vision, but it makes them limited when telling reds and greens apart. Dichromatic vision means that squirrels are able to tell the difference between red and green from different colors because of their ability to decipher them apart for the rest of the color wheel.

The problem lies when they are having difficulty distinguishing between red and green themselves. In some cases red is a threat because it confuses or scares them.

Squirrels can tell the difference between the yellows and blues and distinguish them from reds and greens. If you give them a red object, like a leaf, it may appear green to a squirrel.

How Do Squirrels See The World?

Squirrels see the world with excellent peripheral vision. They can also detect motion from many miles away.

Squirrels have a sensitivity to green and blue wavelengths. They have a hard time deciphering the color red from green.

There are studies of electroretinography suggesting that squirrels have dichromatic vision which is essentially two colors that are difficult for them to distinguish between.

These two colors are red and green. Squirrels can pull out the colors red and green from other colors, but it’s hard for them to distinguish between the two.

What Colors Are Squirrels Afraid Of?

There is research to suggest that squirrels are afraid of the color red. They have a difficulty seeing this color and distinguishing it apart from green.

Red colors make it hard for them to distinguish what they are seeing and this could create a feeling of unsafety. Squirrels will try to stay away from greens and reds because of their uncertain ability to tell them apart.

This is true when looking at leaves on trees during the fall season. Squirrels cannot tell the difference between a red or a green leaf.

Why Are Squirrels Color Blind?

A squirrel’s retina has the ability to see color. Squirrels exhibit dichromatic vision which helps them to understand and tell the differences between yellows and blues.

They have a hard time distinguishing reds from greens. This means that squirrels are in fact, color blind.If a red object appears green or yellow to a squirrel, this gives them a feeling of uncertainty.

Many species of squirrels have retinas that are dominated by cones rather than rods. This also helps to decipher that squirrels have a difficulty with seeing reds apart from greens.

Squirrels are unable to tell the difference between the green leaves in the summer and the changing of their colors during the fall when they become red. This is what researchers are led to believe to be true.

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Are Squirrels Color Blind to Orange?

Squirrels will have a difficulty seeing the color orange, but they can still make it out. They have much more difficulty telling the difference between red and green.

Yellow, orange and blue tones for squirrels make it easy to distinguish even though they have dichromatic vision. This dual vision pulls colors apart, but keeps reds and greens in an ambiguous area.

There is enough evidence to suggest that squirrels can determine the color orange and are not color blind to it.

Can Squirrels See White?

Yes. Squirrels are able to see the color white. Lightness depends on the contrasting darkness around it. Without surrounding darkness, shades and shadows, then contrasting white from dark is difficult for a squirrel.

Squirrel can definitely see:

  • black
  • white
  • yellows
  • blue

Their major difficulty lies in their inability to tell the difference between red and green.

What Color Are Squirrels?

Squirrels can range from multiple colors from grays to browns. There are many squirrels who fall in line with orange or red hues. Some squirrels can be black or white.

A squirrel can be one color and then slowly form several different colors throughout its life. Most of these colors fall within the gray to brown range. The genes of each type of squirrels is responsible for telling their colors apart.

How Many Different Colors of Squirrels Are There?

There are over 285 different types of squirrel species. Some of them are reddish brown and others are brown to gray. There are multiple hue combinations for squirrels.

Their tail could be slightly different from their body. There are also cases of albinoism in squirrels. There’s a huge number of squirrels that end up with white colors due to this lack of pigmentation. There are also squirrels who are jet black in color.

What Colors Do Squirrels See Vision?

Squirrels can see colors, but their dichromatic vision gives them the disadvantages of telling reds and greens apart. Squirrels have the ability to see the following colors:

  • Black
  • White
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Blue
  • Gray
  • Brown
  • Mixed shades

The difficulty for squirrels is when you start to compare the differences between red and green. For us, these two colors are greatly different from each other.

It is not the same for squirrels who are color blind because they have dichromatic vision. This makes them susceptible to confusion when they are trying to determine the difference between red and greens. This is similar to the red green color blindness exhibited in many humans.

Will the Color Red Scare Squirrels Away?

Squirrels are easily scared when they are confused. The color red is confusing to a squirrel because they cannot distinguish it from the color green.

They consider this color unsafe. Squirrels are afraid of the color red. This is this is not the best way to deter squirrels however. You are much better equipped when you have squirrel repellents nearby.

Do not depend on the color red to keep squirrels away. In many cases squirrels are unable to see the color red and that’s why they find it confusing.

Why Can’t Squirrels See Red?

Squirrels have special proteins called opsins. These opsins form part of their visual pigments and are released when there is light to detect color.

They are located in special cells at the back of the eye where the retina is located. These opsins are able to detect wavelengths of light. This helps squirrels perceive color.

Unfortunately squirrels need a third opsin to determine wavelengths with red pigments which is weaker or undefined. This makes it harder for them to distinguish between red and green.

What Does It Mean When a Squirrel Stares at You?

Sometimes you will find a squirrel staring at you and it could be waiting for you to see what you’re going to do next. A squirrel has a survival instinct to patiently freeze and wait. This helps them to stay alive longer.

They will decide what they are going to do depending on what you do first. If you move forward, they will scurry out of the way. If you are just walking by perpendicular to a squirrel,  they may not be fazed by it.

Squirrels will continue staring at you to find out if you are friendly, a threat or even a food provider. Squirrels have adapted to tell the difference between different humans that they recognize.

If they see the same human that poses a threat to them, they will get out of the way faster. If they recognize a human that has given them food before in the past, they will remain motionless and stare while waiting to see if you will offer more food.


The answer to whether or not squirrels are color blind has taken many studies and years to determine. The current findings suggest that because squirrels have dichromatic vision meaning they are unable to distinguish to difference between reds and greens.

This make it hard for squirrels to figure out if areas that are predominantly red, are safe for them or not. A squirrel is apprehensive and exercises patience when it is confused. A deck or backyard flooded with red colors might be enough to deter a squirrel.

If you are planning a new color for your outdoor patio, consider the color red. It isn’t so much that squirrels are scared of this color, it ends up becoming confusing when they can’t tell if it’s safe. A red-green deficiency means that squirrels are in fact, color blind.


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Jason Barrett

Hello, I'm Jason. I have 11 years of experience in dealing with pests. I try to provide you the best information that'll help you to make the pest control process easy & affordable