Explore the Outdoors!

Do Deer Have Good Eyesight? (Are They Color Blind?)

Author:

Published:

Updated:

what do deer see

Deer are known to have pretty fine-tuned senses and instincts which help them evade hunters and predators. Looking at an deer’s eyes, they are quite small, but size doesn’t necessarily dictate ability.  When it comes to how deer see, are deer color blind?

Deer are technically not color blind, but they do not see color in the same manner as humans. Deer vision is not just a sea of black, white, and gray, but they see a much more narrow color spectrum that enhances colors of green at the expense of the orange and red spectrum.

This means that some colors register for deer as they do for us and some colors don’t register at all. 

Deer, elk and zebras as well as wild boar, rhinos, and giraffes belong to the mammalian clade of ungulates that also share the same type of vision.

There are also some colors that are harder for deer to interpret than others, with colors looking slightly different to deer than they do to other animals or humans.

On the other hand, when it comes to an deer’s eyesight, it is much better than a human’s in some aspects, but it is optimized for its herbivorous lifestyle as a plant eating prey animal!

Do Deer Have Good Eyesight?

An deer’s eyesight is superior to some other animals. Deer have quite adept night vision which serves them well when trying to evade harm from predators.

When compared to a human’s eyesight, while we can differentiate and interpret colors much better than deer do, their vision is overall much better than ours for their position as herbivorous prey animals.

Coupled with their other senses, the vision of deer is optimized for them to navigate their surroundings, find food and detect predators very well. 

There is also limited research to suggest that ultraviolet and luminescence stand out much more prominently for deer, so reflective gear is not recommended when trying to hunt them.

If you wear orange, you’ll be spotted by others but deer won’t register the bright color.

They can see ultraviolet light with a much sharper eye due to their supreme ability to see shades of blue. 

I recently photographed this deer in the field nearby. They could see me at at least half a miles distance!

An deer’s field of vision and strength of vision is partially attributed to the location of its eyes. An deer’s eyes sit farther to the side of its head than they do for humans and most predatory animals.

This makes it so deer are able to see around to the sides with more clarity. When an deer turns its head just around 45 degrees to each side, they are able to see in a complete circle. 

What Colors Do Deer See?

There are a few colors that deer are known to see based on scientific research. Since deer are what’s known as dichromatic animals, they are able to see yellows and blues. There are some colors that are more difficult for deer to see due to their eye structure. 

Deer do not have the appropriate apparatus in their eye to see colors on the red-green spectrum the same way that humans and other animals do.

Colors that fall within that spectrum will appear like a shade of gray to these animals. If those colors happen to have some blue or yellow, there’s a chance that those colors might be seen to a certain extent. 

Can Deer See Orange?

Deer are not able to see orange and red the same way we see those colors. Colors in the orange range all appear much duller to deer, which allows hunters wearing “hunters orange” to blend in with their surroundings when seen through the eyes of an deer!

When an deer sees something that is orange, they are not going to interpret it as a brightly colored object as we humans do. When it comes to red, it doesn’t register as a color to deer at all. 

Deer and deer are Ungulates (also including zebras, wild boar, rhinos, and giraffes) that share the same type of vision. They do not really see orange so a tiger would easily blend in with their surroundings!

Orange falls into the yellow-red spectrum of color that an deer’s eyes cannot see. As such, people tend to wear orange when hunting deer or exploring an area where deer live so as to try and blend in with the surroundings. 

That said, depending on the shade of orange, if there is more yellow than red in it, an deer may be able to detect that what they’re looking at is in fact colorful and not gray. 

What Color Is Hardest For Deer To See? 

Red would be the most difficult color for deer to ascertain. Deer can technically see shades of red, but they don’t register as colors to them.

As such, they wouldn’t be able to differentiate red from gray. Any color that is a derivative of red can’t be seen by deer either. 

Deer do not typically run into problems due to how they see color. Their other senses have been able to make up for what they lack in color differentiation in order to help them detect edible food and move through terrain with ease.

The only way their lack of ability to see all colors would impact them is when it doesn’t allow them to detect hunters. 

Deer in sunset
An Deer has eyes that are optimized for the way they live in the forests. They need to not be distracted by irrelevant colors and be able to navigate. Sometimes in low light.

However, their other senses are likely to alert them to potential danger looming. Since deer are able to see at a much wider depth than humans can, there’s a good chance an deer will spot you at over a miles distance without you realizing they are looking at you!

If you’re not in their field of vision yet, there’s a high chance they’ll smell or hear you, so stealth is key.

Can Deer See In The Dark?

One of the most impressive things about deer eyesight is their ability to see in the dark. Deer are able to see quite well in low light conditions and even at night.

This is due to a number of reasons, one being that their pupils can open very wide. When it’s darker outside, our pupils open wider so that more light can enter our eyes and help us see better.

Deer have an adapted layer behind their retina known as the tapetum lucidum which helps them see better in low light conditions.

Like many prey animals, the deer have extra reflective layers in its eye that enhance its eyesight beyond what humans have.

This layer reflects any available light back into the eye which gives them a second chance at seeing what’s around them.

The combination of these two adaptations makes it so deer have excellent night vision and can see quite well even when it’s very dark out.

Conclusion

Deer are not color blind, but they don’t see color in the same way that humans do. Their vision is not just a sea of black, white, and gray.

However, deer do not see the wide spectrum of color, color variations, and shades like we do. But many animals like zebras, rhinos, wild boars and elk have a vision very similar to that of the deer.

Some colors register for deer as they do for us and some colors don’t register at all.

The same is the case for senses like smell and hearing in many other animals such as wolfs, birds of prey, and even cephalopods like octopuses and squid that rely heavily on their eyesight!

There are also some colors that are harder for deer to interpret than others, with colors looking slightly different to deer than they do to other animals or humans.

On the other hand, when it comes to an deer’s eyesight for their role as a prey animal, it is much better than a human’s in most aspects, as they will always be on the lookout for apex predators.

Deer also have quite adept night vision which serves them well when trying to evade harm from predators like wolfs or mountain lions, or a black panther, lurking in the dark!

When compared to a human’s eyesight, while we can differentiate and interpret colors much better than deer do their vision can see exactly the colors they need to navigate the forests and avoid predators in an optimal way!

About the author

Latest posts

  • Best clothing to wear while skiing

    Best clothing to wear while skiing

    Heading to the slopes for a day of skiing? It is important to have the appropriate clothing to ensure warmth, dryness, and comfort. This article discusses the top 10 clothing items necessary for a successful day on the mountain, ranging from waterproof jackets to warm socks. It also explores the advantages of layering, selecting breathable…

    Read more

  • What are the best hikes to do with toddlers in the UK?

    What are the best hikes to do with toddlers in the UK?

    I just went to the UK to go hiking with my family including a 2 year old toddler and some friends with kids of similar age. This article explores the top 10 best hikes to do with toddlers across the UK. From the enchanting Fairy Glen Trail in Betws-y-Coed to the majestic Giant’s Causeway in…

    Read more

  • What are the best fabrics for hiking?

    What are the best fabrics for hiking?

    Choosing the right fabrics for hiking can significantly impact your outdoor adventure. There is a range of options to consider, from breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics to lightweight and durable materials. Exploring the benefits of using appropriate fabrics for hiking, popular fabrics found in outdoor gear, and how these fabrics can improve your hiking experience is…

    Read more