Do Bulls Really Get Angry When They See Red?

Bulls don't get agitated by the color red.

Bullfighting conjures a common image: An angry bull charging at a matador's red cape.

But, why does the beast charge at the sight of red?

Well, in this article, you'll discover whether that's a fact or a myth.


Why Are Bulls so Aggressive?

1. Testosterone levels are higher in male mammals, which is why bulls are more aggressive than cows.

2. They're highly territorial creatures that will fight anything that they feel is encroaching on their turf.

Combining this aggression of bulls with their massive size and strength makes them dangerous animals. In addition, bulls also have sharp horns that can mortally wound you.

Does the Color Red Make Bulls Angry?

The answer is no!

Bulls charge at bullfighters because they're irritated by the flapping of the cape, not because the cape is red.

The reason why red couldn't possibly be what makes bulls angry is that they can't even see the color, since their eyes lack L-cones – the cone cells associated with detecting the color red.

Cattle are colorblind.

The bull would charge at any flapping fabric that was irritating it, regardless of the color.

What Colors Do Bulls See?

Bulls, like other ungulates (hooved animals), have dichromatic vision. Their eyes only have two varieties of cone cells. These are the cells in the retina that detect color. One cone cell, the S-cone, is sensitive to detecting blue and violet light. The other cone cell perceives varying wavelengths of yellow and green light.

Note that neither of the cone cells contained in a bull's eye can perceive red light.

So, bulls can see some colors, particularly shades of blue, purple, green, and yellow. They have also been shown to distinguish between colors, including red, but they don't see red as we do. They may see it slightly purple-tinged or even grey. There's no way to truly know how the color red appears to a bull.

Why Is a Bullfighter's Cape Always Red?

Bullfighters — or matadors, as they are referred to in Spain — use a red cape for a reason.

The cape is called a muleta and is only used in the final third of a bullfight. It's used to hide the matador's sword, which they use to pierce the bull while it charges past. The cape is red to mask the bloodstains from the encounter.

For most of the fight, though, Matadors use a different cape that's colored pink on the outside and yellow on the inside.

What Happens to the Bull After a Bullfight?

Unless pardoned, or it's a Portuguese-style bullfight, bulls are killed in the bullring before the event ends. Then its meat will be used for dishes.

There's even a restaurant in Spain called Casa Toribio that specializes in using meat from bulls used in bullfights – they get their meat from the Las Ventas bullring in Madrid.

What Breeds of Bulls Are Used for Bullfighting?

The bulls used for bullfighting are toro bravo bulls, or Spanish fighting bulls, a breed of cattle native to the Iberian Peninsula.

In terms of their physical appearance, Spanish fighting bulls appear muscular since they're bred for bullfighting and are typically colored black or dark brown.

4-6-year-old bulls are used for corrida de toros (professional bullfights) and corrida de rejones (horseback bullfights).
Bulls aged 3-4 are used for novilladas (amateur bullfights).

Bullfighting Bulls Are Bred Selectively.

Bulls as a whole are fairly calm by nature. They don't have lifelong goals of attacking people, and as long as you stay out of their way, they will stay out of yours.

The bullfighting industry uses bulls that are selectively bred for their aggressive tendencies. What this means is that they’ve taken bulls that are naturally aggressive and bred them to make more aggressive bulls.

Whether this is an ethical practice is a hot topic of debate. Regardless of how you feel about it, most bulls don’t behave the same way as bulls in the fighting ring.

Is Bullfighting Still a Thing?

Bullfighting is now illegal in numerous countries, like the United Kingdom, Italy, and Canada.

However, despite many people not supporting it, the event still takes place in a few countries.
Eight countries still allow bullfighting, including France, Spain, and Portugal. There's a catch with Spain, though, as some parts of the country, like Calonge, Tossa de Mar, Vilamacolum, and La Vajol, have banned it.

With regards to bullfighting not being totally outlawed in the country, it boils down to preserving Spanish culture.

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