Can Deer See Reflective Tape?

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Deer don’t have a good vision and are most likely unable to see a reflective tape. Their inability to detect ultraviolet light means difficulty in seeing sharply reflective substances. They lack a sharp focus on finer details, which translates to them having problems detecting brighter colors. Since a reflective tape appears more sensitive in color, deer are highly incapable of seeing it.

Deer are also not blessed with vision clarity, which means they may see but won’t ascertain. Also, they look at different things all at once. This is because of their ever divided focus. If you mark your stands with reflective tapes, deer will hardly notice what’s going on.  Their eyes detect movement rather than focus on still objects. 

Deer’s Vision

Deer are among a few animals who have fascinating eyesight. Their eyes are one of the biggest when compared to other mammals. However, this has minimal bearing on their visual abilities. They have eyes positioned on either side of the head, denying them a lot of focal movement.

They lack peripheral vision and the ability to move their eyes quickly back and forth. This means there is little chance a deer will see your set out reflective tapes. Unlike you and me, their visual streak is broad and not from top to bottom. Therefore, when deer look straight ahead, they are not always focusing.

Another interesting side of the deer’s vision is the limited ability to differentiate colors. The fact that they lose focus over longer wavelengths means they can’t see much of red. If you have orange or red reflective tapes, be rest assured deer will have problems trying to detect it. However, your blue reflective tapes may offer them some cues.

Their vision has a 300-degree angle round. A slight turn of the head, and they’ll attain the all-round 360 degrees. This, however, doesn’t help them as much. Deer will only turn around and be able to see with their nose pointed up. No wonder they react more to what they smell than what they see.

Why are Deer Able to See So Well at Night

It is no doubt deer has one of the worst visions among all mammals. But some people always wonder how they are capable of seeing so well at night. I must admit I was one of those who wondered how true it is for deer to have such a good night vision. Well, the reasons for all that is;

High-Density rods in Their Eyes.

Rods are one of the two light-sensitive cells. They function in the absence of light and only allow black or white visions. They are thus perfect during the night or when there is a low concentration of light. The high density of rods means deer can see things at night more than you and me.

Horizontally Slit Pupil

A horizontally slit pupil in a deer’s eye means it opens much wider than ours. A wide pupil allows more light to be gathered in the eye when the overall lighting is low. This, in turn, enhances their night vision capabilities.

The Reflective Substance on their Eyes

Ever wondered why deer’s eyes shine at night? That is because they have a tapetum, a substance that makes their eyes reflect light at night. When light enters their eyes, it creates a series of reflections. This allows them to use more light since it’s all reflected and absorbed back into the eye. The resulting combination of reflections makes deer see 50 times better than you at night.

What Do Deer See

Though not visually blessed, deer still rely on their eyes to run away from predators. However, their best counter weapon remains their good senses. Without the ability to pick predator’s scent from afar, they would be all wiped out. Their eyes only see;


Deer can see all around their surroundings. Their opposite sided eyes allow them a good angle to cover a large area. However, among all they see, deer only pick out movement from predators and other prey. If you remain still, the deer always perceives you as a lump. Their eyes have a design that only allows them to see movement. This is all thanks to their lack of sharp focus. 

Slow movements can also be challenging for deer to detect. Poor visual acuity means they’ll only see your careless movements. You can stealthily move even when you are close to them, and they won’t notice anything.

Deer Vision in Relation to Perception

There is much to say about the deer’s depth of perception. Their eyes being farther apart results in a low perception depth. This means deer will spot you moving but still won’t tell how far you are. They will focus their eyes on you but still be unable to tell where you are. Their eyes only remain fixated on scanning their surroundings.

Their vision is quite different from us and how we perceive our environments. With us, a simple focus on one spot means we can see it. Deer lack that central spot but are rather blessed with multiple photoreceptors. These photoreceptors mean they can see you even if their eyes are not firmly on you.

Adaptation of Deer Vision

Deer vision remains adapted to ensuring they survive well in the woods. Though considered low, their vision has other adaptations that make up for all the shortcomings. These include;

Lesser Blind Spot

Their eyes covering 300-degree angle vision means deer only have a 50 degrees’ blind spot. They are thus well adapted to seeing all their wide surroundings. Though they lack clear vision, there is a likelihood they’ll detect the presence of a predator. 

Lots of Rods Help in Movement Detection

Their eyes have many rods that perform two essential functions. First, they enhance a clear night vision. Second, they are vital in helping to detect movements.


There exist many theories on what deer can see and what they can’t. Even If their capability to see reflective tapes is still debatable, deer do have an adaptive vision. Therefore, when it comes to deer’s vision, there’s more than meets the eye.

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