Once in a lifetime, everyone has heard people suggesting to stay away from bulls while wearing red because of the widespread belief that they can get outraged when they see the color red. But is that really so? Do bulls really hate the red? If yes, why do they only hate the color red?
Bulls don’t hate red at all; in fact, because they have dichromatic vision, they can’t even see red. Moreover, they can’t see all the colors humans can see. Only yellow, blue, and violet hues are recognized by bulls.
Cone cells of bulls are of three types: one kind detects predominantly red colors, another detects predominantly green colors, and the third detects predominantly blue colors. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that bulls lack red retina receptors; hence their hatred of red is nothing more than a myth.
Do Bulls See Red?
Bulls do not incite anger with the color red, but can they recognize red? If not, why do they react to the red-colored Muleta used in bullfights? Why is it that many people still believe that the color red causes a bull to become furious?
Bulls are colorblind to red-green; hence they cannot see red and green colors. The majority of cattle, including bulls, are dichromats, which means they can perceive only two colors. Humans, on the other hand, can perceive three colors: red, green, and blue.
Cattle are visually blind to red, but can see yellow, green, blue, and violet colors, according to Temple Grandin’s book “Improving Animal Welfare.” Thus, the red color cape used in bullfighting is purely ceremonial in nature and is not used to make them aggressive.
What Happens When Bulls See Red?
Probably you have heard the saying “like a red rag to a bull”, used when describing something that causes anger or irritation. According to popular belief, bulls get angry when they see a red muleta during a bullfight, but is this true? What happens to bulls when they see red? Let’s find out.
While it is believed that bulls get angry when they are exposed to the color red, in reality, they do not react to red at all because they are colorblind and cannot recognize the color red. In truth, there is no color which makes them angry.
Since it was claimed that bulls react to red capes and become really angry, especially during bullfights. However, it was observed that bulls react the same way to white capes and blue capes as they do to red capes; they begin charging when the capes are moved around. Furthermore, they observed that bulls become angry with the capes only when they have moved around.
Do Bulls Only See Red?
The fact that bulls get angry in a bullring after they see red Muleta makes people believe they only see. But is it true? Can bulls not see any color other than red? And, if yes, how do they recognize green grass, hay, and human beings? Let’s answer all these questions below.
Bulls cannot see red; in fact, except red, they can see any other color. This is because they are colorblind to color red and green which are seen by them as versions of gray or black. Red capes agitate bulls due to their snapping action, not because they’re red. The bull is most likely seeing black as a means of anger, not red.
Cows aren’t color-sensitive, but they are sensitive to sharp contrasts. For instance, if there is a dark fence standing in front of a white building, cows will be startled by the change in color.
How Bulls React to Red Capes?
Red-colored capes are used for traditional reasons alone in bullfighting but how they react to red capes is still unexplored. Let’s figure this out.
When the Matador whips the Muleta in an aggressive manner, the bull views that movement as a sign of danger. That will trigger the Fight or Flight response, resulting in the bull attacking the Matador in order to escape from danger.
In fact, there are three stages to bullfighting, and the red cape is only worn during the third and final stage. Also, the red color of the cape serves to mask the bull’s blood when it is fended off.
Why Do Bulls Charge?
Now it is quite clear that neither bulls recognize red color nor they hate red color. You must be thinking why do bulls charge at waving Muleta? Let’s find this out.
In contrast to popular belief, bulls do not charge because of the matador’s red cape. In fact, when the Matador starts waving the Muleta suddenly, the bull views that sudden movement as a sign of danger. This will make him nervous and enraged, resulting in the bull to take charge of the Matador in order to escape from danger.
During a bullfight, matadors wear a red cape, also known as Muleta, which they constantly wave aggressively. Bulls seem to be irritated by the movement of the cape, not its color.
Although cows are smart animals, since they are prey species, they get scared easily even with the slightest of the movement around them. Thus, to defend themself, they charge at matadors when they start sudden movements of the red cape.
Are Bulls Color Blind?
Since bulls cannot see red color, they are assumed to be colorblind, just like other mammals. But, are they actually colorblind? And if yes, what colors they cannot recognize. Read below to know.
In fact, bulls, like other ungulates, are partially colorblind; that is, instead of seeing every color, they can only see a subset of colors. Humans have trichromatic vision, which is a combination of three different color receptors in their retina, while bulls have the dichromatic vision that allows them to recognize particular colors.
Despite not being completely colorblind, bulls are partially colorblind. They have dichromatic vision, and In their retina, there are two types of cone cells. One type detects short wavelengths (S-cones), which are extremely sensitive to wavelengths. The other type perceives short to medium wavelengths.
What is the Depth Perception of Bulls?
Not just colorblindness, bulls depth perception has also been a controversial topic for centuries. While experts are of the opinion that they have a poor depth perception, others still claim their depth perception is on point. Let’s discover the truth.
They don’t always have a good sense of depth, so they run into fences and people without realizing they are so close. Cows sometimes suffer from poor depth perception, so they can’t tell how far away they are from objects. When they see a moving shadow, for example, they may run into a fence before realizing they are so close.
To conclude, it can be said that bulls are not color blind. It is only the fight and flight response of bulls that makes them angry with the red cape whips in the bullfighting. It is only because of the sudden movement and nuisance of the crowds that make them so nervous and infuriated.