Are Pigs Color Blind?

By Elton Dunn

Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

For a farm mammal, pigs have quite good vision -- they are able to perceive a range of color wavelengths, but cannot see gradations of color such as ombre effects. Redecorating the pigsty in colors your pig can perceive may make her feel less anxious.

Pig Vision

Humans have trichromatic vision, meaning that three pigment cones blend together to create the colors people see. Pigs and other mammals have dichromatic vision, or only two pigment cones that create colors. This means a pig's view of the world is less rich than a person's, but that a pig can still differentiate colors. Animals with monochromatic vision have only one pigment cone and see in black and white.

Color Perception

Pigvision Institute studies showed that pigs see primarily red, green and blue wavelengths. When these colors are combined -- for example, in a multicolored pig food with red, green and blue pellets -- pigs will display a stronger visual response than when facing one color. Additionally, pigs tend to see objects as solid color; they may see the blue sky, but not perceive clouds or rainbows in the sky.

History

For a long time, researchers thought that all mammals -- including pigs -- were color blind, a belief that was common knowledge among the general public. Accordingly, some folks may still believe pigs lack the capacity to differentiate colors. While recent research has shown that pigs and other mammals are not truly color blind, this is less well-known to the general population.

Significance

By playing to the color perception of pigs, farmers, pig breeders and pig owners can make pigs more comfortable and less stressed in their environment. For example, the pig will see a farmer wearing red, green or blue pants and boots better than a farmer wearing brown pants and boots. When the element of surprise is removed -- the pig sees the farmer approach -- the pig may be less anxious.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

Author

A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.