Pigs are remarkable animals. They are highly intelligent, social creatures that have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years.
Wild pigs tend to be highly successful in any environment where they are found.
Why is this? Are pigs especially adaptable? Maybe they possess especially keen senses that help them. How about their eyesight? Can pigs actually see in the dark?
Yes, pigs can see in the dark, but not particularly well. They see best at night when they have ambient lights or moonlight, but if it is too dark they will have difficulty seeing. This is because their eyes are not particularly large, and they do not have tapetum lucidums.
It is for this reason that you rarely see pigs being active to any extent in conditions of serious darkness.
They will usually only come out at night if there is some light source to help them see, and even then they will not be able to see as well as other animals like dogs or cats, and only marginally better than people.
This is one area where pigs are at a disadvantage compared to many other animals. There is a lot more to learn on the topic, so keep reading!
Do Pigs Like the Dark?
When it comes to light, pigs are usually diurnal animals. While they do not need complete darkness to sleep, they do prefer dimmer lighting conditions when they are resting.
Pigs will often seek out dark places to build their nests and will even use their own bodies to block out any light that might be coming in.
This is because pigs are very sensitive to light and it can cause them stress if they are in a well-lit area.
That said, it is hardly unheard of to see an individual pig or even small group that tends to be active well into the night.
This is most likely due to the fact that pigs are opportunistic feeders and will eat just about anything they can find.
If there is food available, they will often be willing to forgo their usual sleeping patterns in order to get it.
Other nighttime perks pigs usually enjoy is cooler temperatures and the lack of other animals around.
Do Pigs Have Good Eyesight at Night?
No, not really. As we’ve mentioned, pigs can see in the dark but their vision is not nearly as good as other animals like dogs or cats.
In fact, their night vision is only slightly better than a human’s at night.
Still, that means they will have an edge on us when we are trying to chase them through the dark after they break out of their pen!
Just How Well Can Pigs See in the Dark?
Assuming there is ambient light, pigs can see well enough at night to avoid nearby obstacles and find food (in conjunction with their excellent sense of smell).
However, they will not be able to nearly as well as they can during the day and their color vision is greatly impaired.
In conclusion, pigs can see in the dark but not very well.
Anatomy of a Pig’s Eye
Why do pigs lack good night vision? The answer is plain enough if you have a working knowledge of anatomy and care to examine the structure of a pig’s eye.
For starters, pigs have small eyes relative to the size of their head. Pigs also lack a tapetum lucidum.
The tapetum lucidum is a layer of tissue found behind the retina that bounces light back through the retina, thereby improving night vision.
This is why you see animals’ eyes glowing in the dark when you shine a light at them – the reflective layer of the eye is amplifying the light that is entering.
Pigs also have a relatively small pupil. The pupil is the “aperture” part of the eye that expands and contracts to control how much light enters.
A large pupil means more light can enter, while a small pupil limits the amount of light.
So, in addition to having a reflective layer that doesn’t do much to amplify light, pigs also have a small pupil that limits how much light can enter the eye.
This is why pigs have poor night vision.
What Does a Pig’s Vision “Look” Like?
Do pigs see in the same color spectrum we do? How does the world appear to a pig? We don’t know for sure, but we can make some educated guesses.
Pigs have two types of photoreceptors in their eyes – rods and cones. Rods are responsible for black-and-white vision and light detection, while cones are responsible for color vision.
Humans have three types of cones, each with a different “color” they are sensitive to – red, green, and blue.
This is why we see in color – our brain takes the information from all three types of cones and combines it into one image.
Pigs have two types of cones – one that is sensitive to blue light and one that is sensitive to green light. This means that pigs can see some colors, but not nearly as many as we can.
The world probably looks fairly dull and muted to a pig, though we still do not know for sure when their color perception kicks in.
Colors are not as plentiful bright or vivid, and the world appears to be mostly shades of gray, green, and blue.
Also of note is that pigs only have true binocular vision in a small field of view ahead of them, a cone about 45 degrees wide.
Outside of this cone and to either side they have monocular vision, meaning each eye is seeing its own separate image. This gives them fairly good depth perception in a small area, but not outside of that.
Pigs have poor vision overall, but they make up for it with an excellent sense of smell.
Do Pigs Rely on Vision in the Dark?
Yes, for general navigation, but a pig is always more likely to use its sense of smell than vision to assess their surroundings. This is especially true at night when their vision is significantly impaired.
Do Pigs Have Other Senses that Help Them in the Dark?
As mentioned, a pig’s sense of smell is critical to its success but also their hearing. A pig’s hearing is very acute, and they can detect high-pitched sounds that we cannot.
This is helpful for detecting predators or prey in the dark.
In short, while pigs have poor vision in the dark and can have trouble navigating, they make up for it with their other senses.
How Can We Help Pigs see at Night?
If you keep pigs and want to help them get around at night, all you need to do is provide a light source.
Pigs are not necessarily afraid of the dark, but they may be afraid of unfamiliar things in the dark.
A small nightlight or soft area lighting near their enclosure (but not shining in their sleeping area!) can help them see where they are going if they do have to get up and make them feel more comfortable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Only as well as other pigs; they have no special adaptations for night vision.
Nope. Though pretty adaptable to nighttime activity, pigs are not truly nocturnal.
Much of the time, yes.
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Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.