There is no denying that elephants are amazing animals. They are intelligent, family-oriented and very strong. However, elephant eyesight is not the best. How can such a large animal have poor eyesight? Our African elephant research has rounded up some facts about an elephant’s vision that will help you understand better.
Elephant eyesight facts
The size of an elephant's eye is 3.8 cm in diameter.
Elephants are the largest land mammal. An adult elephant can be as large as 8.2 to 13 feet tall and weigh 5,000 to 14,000 lbs. Although these animals are enormous, their eyes are not large.
The average size of an elephant's eye is 3.8 cm (1.5 in) in diameter. Their eyes are on the side of their head rather than in front. In comparison, elephant eyes are only slightly larger than a human's eye, which is on average 2.5 cm (1 in) in diameter.
Elephants have different colored eyes.
Just like humans, the eyes of elephants also come in different colors. The four most common eye colors that elephants have are dark brown, light brown, honey and gray. However, there are occasions when elephants have blue-gray, golden, green and even yellow-colored eyes. In some instances, they have different eye colors in each eye.
Elephants have poor eyesight.
An elephant’s sight is not the best. These animals only see for short distances of up to 20 m (65.6 feet). Having poor eyesight has not stopped elephants from surviving. Elephants have other heightened senses that help them successfully navigate the grasslands and forests. These large animals have amazing hearing, smell and touch.
Baby elephants are born nearly blind.
One commonly asked question is, how long is an elephant’s pregnancy? The average gestation period of an elephant is 18 to 22 months. This long period helps the baby elephant (calf) develop fully ready to walk and learn from its herd.
Although it takes almost two years for an elephant to develop in the womb, an elephant calf is born nearly blind. Their vision starts to expand throughout the years. In the early stages, they rely heavily on their mothers for guidance.
Elephants are colorblind.
One of the less known elephant eyesight facts is that elephants are colorblind. During the day, elephants are dichromic, which means they have two kinds of color sensors in their retina. They have one type of cone for red and another for green. Elephants can see similarly to colorblind humans. They can see the colors blues and yellows but cannot tell the difference between reds and greens.
Elephants can see in the dark.
Elephants eat up to 300 pounds of food in a single day. That means these animals spend most of their day and night eating. Believe it or not but wild elephants get on average two hours of sleep each night.
Since they spend a lot of time in the dark, they need to see in the darkness. Researchers have found that elephants exhibit arrhythmic vision, which changes with the time of day. At night, elephants are more sensitive to blue and violet lights, making it easier to see with less light.
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