Do bulls charge when they see red?

Okay, so the other day I was watching a very sophisticated program on ungulate behavior called Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. This program featured a guy in a red shirt who was chased by a bull. I think this was a reference to the idea that bulls will charge red objects.

Really, I searched the archives on this one, and I found nothing. Do bulls have color vision? Do they really charge red objects more readily than objects of other colors? Or is it just they they charge the matador because and his picador pals have been poking him, and the matador carries a red cape because matadors prefer red?

I’ve read that bulls are color blind, although this may also be bull.

In any case, what gets the bull ticked off is the way the matador waves the cape in his face (although I’m sure all the poking picadors don’t put him in a very good mood, either).

The cape is red to attract the spectators’ attention, not the bull’s. The same goes for the rest of the matador’s outfit. Let’s face it, if I put down my hard earned cash to see a bullfight, I don’t wanna see some schlub in a pair of dirty jeans waving an old tablecloth, I wanna see a SHOW!


A bull will charge at you no matter what color you wear. He does not care a whit about fashion. He charges if he feels threatened.

I’ve always been told that it’s the movement that causes them to charge and that bulls are color blind.

Bulls are colorblind.

On a sidenote: I remember seeing a sign somewhere (TV, magazine, wherever) that showed a field with a NO TRESPASSING sign on it. At the bottom it said, “Unless you can cross this field in 13 seconds. The Bull can do it in 12.”


Bulls are colorblind, the bulls in a bullfight charge the movement of the cape, but the have been really pissed off by the little dart things.

Most of the bulls that I have been around were quite tame and nice, but a 2000 lb bull can easily hurt you without meaning to do so. Never put your body between an fixed object and a bull. A bull can easily crush you between a barn wall or fence, or he could step on your foot.

That said, some bulls are mean as hell.

I was chased by a bull once. No, not at Pamplona - only an idiot would intentionally try to smack a charging horned animal with a rolled up newspaper.

When I was about 7 years old I spend a summer on a farm with my parents. Walking through a field one day with my dad I got too close to a bull (not really noticing the difference between cows and bulls at that time in my life). The thing charged after me and I ran like a rabbit and tried to climb the nearest haystack. Suddenly I heard my father laughing histerically. The bull was chained to the ground and stopped at the end of his chain well before he even had a chance to get near me. I was quite relieved and not a little bit emabarassed. Though I had a good laugh about it too after my heart stopped racing.

I wasn’t wearing red nor was I particularly menacing at 7 years old. I just got in its field of vision and I guess it just had a bad attitude. Nasty things those bulls.

I also got run down by a bunch of pigs spooked by a dog… but that’s another story… suffice it to say, I don’t care for farms that much.

Just to add something, sorta. Bulls, like most animals, are indeed color blind. Most animals don’t have cones, the part of the eye that imparts color vision .

As stated previously, bulls are colorblind and will charge the matador because he’s waving a cape in front of the irritated bull, not because bulls charge objects that are red. I actually heard (don’t know if this is accurate) that for the best result (assuming that getting a bull to charge you is a desirable result), you should wave a white or bright yellow cape instead, since the bull will see it more easily.

Actually, what they do, just before they let the bull loose into the ring, a guy says to it: “You see that guy over there waving a cape? He just said your mother is a cow! What are you going to do about it?”

Bulls (and cows, horses, dogs, cats, pigs, sheep, etc.) are not completely color-blind. They have two types of cones, rather than three, so they’re basically red-green color-blind, but they can see shades of other colors. Their color vision tends to be pretty blurry, and not as brilliant as our primate 3-cone system, but they can differentiate between some colors.

But, no, it doesn’t matter what color the cape is. Bulls are just mean-tempered.

Kevin B.