Can Elephants See Colors Or Are They Colorblind? (Read This)

It is sporadic for a person to be colorblind. But is colorblind also applicable to animals, such as elephants? We will find that out.

So can elephants see colors, or are they colorblind? The answer is yes. Elephants can’t see colors because they are born colorblind.

What is impressive is that every animal is unique in terms of its eyesight. Every animal has different eyesight, and they see the world differently, too. Some animals have the same vision as humans have. 

These animals can see the world as it is. They can see the exact colors of everything. However, some animals are not gifted with the full eyesight like that of humans. 

Some animals have limited vision. The elephants are one of those animals who see the world differently through their eyes. Despite the difference in their eyesight, elephants rely on their eyesight so that they can wander into the forest. 

Given their good eyesight despite being colorblind, the elephant size is relatively small, even if they have a considerable body. So people would ask if elephants do have good eyesight. 

Despite the elephant being color blinded, this does not stop them from being good in terms of their eyesight. Let us further discuss the vision of the elephants.

Are Elephants Color Blind?

Yes, elephants are color blind. Elephants are considered to be dichromic when it is daylight. When we say dichromic, it means that they have two kinds of color sensors in the elephant’s retina. 

These color sensors are a cone for greens, and there is another cone for reds. Humans are trichromic. When we say trichromic, it means that humans have three kinds of color sensors in the retina of humans. 

Humans have one type of cone for green, one type of cone for blue, and one type of cone for red. So if you compare the eyesight of the elephant to the humans, elephants are colorblind, and they only have two kinds of color sensors in broad daylight, the cone for green and the cone for red. 

However, even if the elephant’s eyesight is only about two kinds of color sensors in the daylight and they are colorblind, elephants are still magnificent in terms of differentiating colors even if they only have two types of cones. The elephants are not downgraded just because they do not have the third cone. They are still excellent in terms of using their eyesight.

Another thing is that elephants have an arrhythmic vision. When we say elephants are arrhythmic, the elephant’s vision changes depending on the time of the day. When night time comes, the elephants’ eyes are most sensitive to violet light and blue, around four hundred twenty to four hundred ninety nanometers. 

So even at nighttime, elephants can still see very well even if they only have a small amount of light. So elephant’s eyesight is perfect even in the dark.

Related: Can Elephants Swim?

Why Are Elephants Color Blind?

The answer to why elephants are color blind is not clear. This is the act of nature, and we should leave it at that. 

Elephants are just born color blind. But it is not a liability. Even in daylight, elephants can see very well even if they only have two color sensors, the red cones and the green cones. 

But despite the elephant being colorblind, they can also see very well in the dark. Experts say that elephants have arrhythmic vision. This arrhythmic vision is a type of vision that would change within the time of the day. 

They can be able to see the surroundings even if they only have a minimal source of light. Even if the elephant is color blind, they are not disadvantaged just because they do not have all three cones of color like humans do. These elephants see things differently. 

What is impressive also is that the colorblind humans share the same sets of visual pigments with the elephants. This means that the elephants can see colors like yellow and blue, but they cannot discriminate between green and red. These elephants see things differently.

colorblind vision

Can Elephants Recognize Different Colors?

Yes. When we say that the elephants are color blind, it just means that there are certain types of color sensors that they do not have. However, elephants can still distinguish the surrounding with the type of color sensors they have. 

In daylight, elephants are dichromic, so they have the type of cone for red and cone for green. The elephants also have an arrhythmic vision—their vision changes in the time of the day. When night time comes, their eyes are susceptible to the violet light and the blue light. 

So these elephants can see every week even if they only have a minimal source of daylight.  However, these elephants can also see for a short distance. 

The ranges of vision of elephants are only clean for about ten meters, and they only see for twenty-five meters. However, the remaining senses of the elephants are very sharp to make up for their difference in terms of their eyesight. 

The sight of elephants might not be the very best sight of all animals, but if we talk about the smell of the elephants, they are tough to be defeated. The senses of smell of elephants are powerful, and their sense of smell also communicates to other senses of the elephants.

Also Read: Can Elephants Jump?

What Color Do Elephants Not Like?

There are no reported colors that elephants do not like. Elephants might not have access to all types of colors, but elephants still have perfect eyesight. 

With that, elephants can still do very well in terms of their vision. They can still see the world and distinguish the world even if they only have two types of color sensors.


In summary, elephants are born color blind. When we say that the elephant is color blind, it means that they only have two types of color sensors. However, it does not mean that their eyesight is lacking or limited. 

It just means that the eyesight of the elephants is different. They see things differently in terms of color. But they see very well.


Image credits – Canva

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I'm David, and safari has been my passion since I was a little boy - I grew up in South Africa. I love to help spread knowledge about safari, so let me know if you have any questions. Read more