Here’s How Your Pets See Their Environment

There are great differences between how you and your beloved pet – whether dog, fish or tarantula – sees your surroundings at home. These photos from US-based digital marketplace HomeAdvisor will give you a hint of how different animals kept as pets perceive things, according to science. This knowledge can help you pick toys, food bowls and other accessories in colours that attract the most attention from your little buddy.


Although, contrary to popular belief, dogs don’t see in black and white, they do see fewer colors than humans. While we have three types of cone cells in our eyes (sensing red, green, and blue light), dogs have only two: they see muted combinations of blue and yellow.

They also have only 20–40 per cent of the visual acuity (the ability to make out details and shapes) of us humans, and rely heavily on their sense of smell. Nevertheless, they have the benefit of a wide, 240° field-of-vision, allowing them to take in much more of a room than we can at once with our own 180°.


Cats are very visual creatures, but – similarly the dogs – they see fewer colors: very little red and lots of green and blue. So it might help if cat owners purchase toys, cushions, and other things a cat seeks in these colder shades.

Cats have an excellent night vision. While humans have a high number of cones in our retinas, cats have a different type of photoreceptor cell called rods, which are sensitive to low light.


Goldfish can see more colors than humans. Their ability to see ultraviolet light helps them see in water, and even spot where your dog has tried to mark its territory on the sofa.

What is more, a goldfish also enjoys a fisheye lens effect since its round corneas are able to gather light from an almost 360-degree spectrum. And those corneas are almost the same density as water, which compensates for the warping effects of light in water.


Most snakes have very poor vision in daylight, so if you keep them as a pet, you don’t have to worry much about the visual design of their surroundings. Nevertheless, with a good serving of rods, you can make sure their nighttime vision isn’t too shabby.

Some snake species also have infrared vision. Your pet snake may merge heat-detection data from its pit organs (thin membranes between the eyes and nostrils) with visual data to create an image like the one above – something like thermal imaging.


Most spiders rely mostly on their hairy legs to feel their way around, and only to a lesser extent on their eight, rather feeble eyes.

That said, researchers have recently discovered that their color-sensing structures of opsins (a type of protein) might make them sensitive to color, and might be used to find mates. Remember that in case your pet tarantula gets frisky with a bright blue saucer on your coffee table.


As described in an earlier post of ours, birds, including your parrot, rely heavily on a highly effective visual system and are able to see blue, green, and red color ranges, and even UV light. In this picture, the “violet” color is used to double for ultraviolet, which is actually colorless and invisible to humans.

Parrots can also adjust their focus extremely fast, and have near 300-degree coverage. Their vision is monocular, meaning one of their eyes focuses on one thing while the other wanders.

Your pet parrot can also contract its pupils at will, for instance when it doesn’t like the new curtains you’ve just hung.


Who could care more about your choice of living room palette than your pet chameleon? Chameleons not only absorb, transform, and re-emit color (changing them to regulate temperature and communicate), their eyes are almost all “cone” but no “rod.” This means they see lots of color (including the ultraviolet spectrum) but little contrast.

Their eyes operate independently on little turrets, allowing them watch for predators across a total field of vision of 342 degrees. They have a blind spot of only 18 degrees behind their heads.

While we usually decorate our home for the human eye, it’s good to know what colors stand out to our pets. Who knows? Maybe they’ll use that scratching post, toy or dog bed more if it has the color which is right for them? Well, it’s definitely worth a try.


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