Red-eyed guinea pigs are rare, but lethal white guinea pigs are the rarest—they are the unicorn of the guinea pig world. Lethal white guinea pigs always have pure white fur and red eyes. They are compromised and need special care.
If you have a white guinea pig with red eyes, you might be wondering if it is lethal white or not. Whether you are here to learn if your white guinea pig has the lethal white gene or you are just curious about lethal white guinea pigs, continue reading. In this article, we are going to discuss all about lethal white guinea pigs.
What Is a Lethal White Guinea Pig?
Lethal white guinea pigs lack pigmentation and are always pure white with pink or red eyes. They are genetically compromised and are almost always blind and deaf. They have malformed teeth and are often missing incisors. They have poor immunity with a life expectancy from just a few months to 3 years.
|Coat Color||Pure White|
|Eye Color||Pink or Red|
|Life Expectancy||Up to 3 years|
|Size||Smaller than other breeds|
|Health Issues||Deafness, Blindness, Malformed teeth, weak immunity|
Lethal white guinea pigs occur because of the lethal white gene. Lethal white is a recessive gene and usually occurs in roan and Dalmatian guinea pigs. But as it is recessive, it does not affect them. However, when a roan guinea pig is bred with a roan, a dalmatian guinea pig with a dalmatian, or roan and dalmatian are bred together, there is a 25% risk of the offspring carrying the lethal white gene and being affected by this anomaly, according to the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London. So, there might only be one baby guinea pig in the litter carrying the lethal white gene and other siblings may not be affected.
Responsible guinea pig breeders would never knowingly cross two guinea pigs carrying the recessive lethal white gene that may lead to a probability of a lethal guinea pig. Lethal whites are very difficult to care for and are not much desired besides their striking looks. This is the reason that you will never find them at a pet store.
Mostly, baby lethal white guinea pigs occur by accidents and are found at animal shelters and guinea pig rescuers because they are not desired.
Is That a Lethal White Guinea Pig?
It might be difficult for an untrained eye to tell the difference between a lethal white guinea pig and a pink-eyed white guinea pig (PEWs). But if you know what and where to look out for, it becomes really easy to identify a lethal guinea pig.
First, lethal whites always have pure white fur and pink, small, and squinty eyes. As lethal whites are often deaf and blind, you may find them running around in their cage purposelessly and making random guinea pig noises. They would have malformed teeth and sometimes even missing incisors. Guinea pigs are fastidious creatures, but as lethal guinea pigs have trouble eating, their mouth is dirty most of the time. Below we have discussed the characteristics of lethal white guinea pigs in detail.
1. Lethal White Guinea Pigs Have Pure White Fur
Lethal guinea pigs are always all white. There will be not even a single speck of other colors. If you see any spots, know that your guinea pig is not lethal. White guinea pigs and even PEWs are different from lethal white guinea pigs. as we discuss other characteristics below, the difference would become obvious.
2. Lethal Guinea Pigs Eyes Are Pink And Often Small And Squinty
Lethal white guinea pigs are always born with pink eyes. Their eyes are small and squinty—half closed. Oftentimes, lethal guinea pigs are born with no eyes or they are blind in either one eye or both eyes. So, walking around in their cage purposelessly, you may see them bumping into things.
3. Lethal Guinea Pigs Are Almost Always Deaf
Besides being blind, or having poor eyesight, lethal guinea pigs are also almost always deaf. Deafness coupled with blindness makes it really hard for lethal guinea pigs to move around.
4. Lethal Guinea Pigs Have Malformed Teeth
Lethal white guinea pigs have teeth problems. Sometimes, all of their teeth are missing and in other cases, they just have malformed teeth with missing incisors at the front. Because of the teeth issues, they experience difficulty eating, and in extreme cases, they need to be fed with a syringe. They also need regular dental examinations.
5. Lethal Guinea Pigs Experience Stunted Growth
As they have dental issues and eating is difficult and sometimes painful for them, lethal white guinea pigs often experience stunted growth. This is the reason that they are often smaller in size compared to the average guinea pig size. Some lethal guinea pigs have digestive issues and are not able to properly digest food and absorb nutrients.
6. Lethal Guinea Pigs Often Have Head Tilt
Baby lethal white guinea pigs are often born with a head tilt. This head tilt makes them look as if they are leaning their head to one side. This head tilt also makes it difficult for lethal guinea pigs to maintain their balance.
7. Lethal Guinea Pigs Have Weak Immunity
Lethal white guinea pigs have poor immunity and are vulnerable to a lot of health issues. Besides that, they may also have neurological and gastrointestinal issues. Because of the weak immunity, their owners have to be extra cautious about keeping their cages clean and ensure that they do not come in contact with infectious agents.
If you take a look at lethal white guinea pig poop, you will notice that their poop pellets are different from normal guinea pig poop.
How to Care For a Lethal White Guinea Pig?
Caring for a lethal white guinea pig is hard—it is not only an emotional but also a financial commitment. Genetically compromised, blind, and deaf, lethal white guinea pigs with chronic dental issues, and poor immune and digestive systems, require a lifetime of support. Besides special care at home, they will also need regular visits to vets.
Therefore, before adopting a lethal guinea pig, you should carefully consider if you will be able to put in your time and money to give them a happy life. If you have made the decision, here is how you can take care of a lethal white guinea pig at home.
- Learn all about lethal white guinea pigs. It is only by knowing their vulnerabilities, you will be able to provide the best possible care to them.
- Guinea pigs are social creatures and should be kept in pairs. So, you might want to pair your lethal white guinea pig with a healthy guinea pig. But make sure that the healthy guinea pig is not bullying the lethal white or stealing food from him.
- Provide them with a single-level, simple, and easy-to-navigate cage and maintain the layout throughout their life. You should avoid ramps and sharp edges that could hurt lethal guinea pigs when they bump into them.
- Make sure that you are keeping the food and water in the same place. So that they don’t have to worry about finding and then remembering the food spot every time you change the place.
- Develop a healthy routine. Develop a feeding and playtime schedule for your lethal piggies. Routine helps guinea pigs feel safe.
- If your lethal white has chronic dental issues, take him to a piggy-savvy dental vet regularly. If your lethal white is unable to munch on hay and pellets, you might have to resort to syringe feeding. You will have to feed your guinea pig every three to four hours.
- You should weigh your lethal white guinea pig regularly, to check if they are maintaining a healthy weight. In case of a continuous decrease in weight, take your guinea pig to a veterinarian, there might be some underlying issue.
Should You Adopt a Lethal White Guinea Pig?
If you know how much of a responsibility—emotional, financial, and time-intensive—caring for a lethal white guinea pig is, and you still want to adopt one, you should go for it. Parents of lethal white guinea pigs would tell you that it is all worth it.
You should only get a lethal white guinea pig if you have the time and financial resources to provide them with the special care that they need. Where regular vet checkups would be expensive, intensive care and frequent syringe feeding sessions would be tiring. So, you should bring home a lethal guinea pig only when you are ready to provide them with a lifetime of support. Lethal guinea pigs have shorter lifespans, ranging from a couple of months to 3 years.
Below we have answered some of the frequently asked questions about lethal white guinea pigs.
Are Lethal White Guinea Pigs Always White?
Yes, lethal white guinea pigs are always white. They will always have pure white fur and pink eyes. If your white guinea pig has even a tiny spot on his white coat, he cannot be lethal white.
Are All White Guinea Pigs Lethal Guinea Pigs?
While all lethal guinea pigs are white, not all white guinea pigs are lethal. Pink-eyed white guinea pigs (PEWs) are not always lethal. So, if you have a white guinea pig with red eyes or pink eyes, it does not necessarily have to be a lethal white. But if it is blind and deaf and has chronic dental issues, then most probably it is lethal white.
What Are Signs That a White Guinea Pig is Lethal?
Know that we have read a lot about lethal guinea pigs, you would be able to tell them apart from PEWs or other white guinea pigs. Here are some signs of lethal white guinea pigs:
- They lack pigmentation and are always born with pure white fur and pink to red eyes
- They are either born with no eyes or are blind—in one or both eyes
- They are almost always born deaf in one or both ears
- They have malformed teeth and are often missing incisors
- They are smaller than average guinea pigs
- They might have an unusual head tilt
- They have a poor immune system
- They have a poor digestive system
- They may suffer from neurological disorders
- They often make random noises
- They may stumble into things while walking around in their cage purposelessly.
To Sum Up: Lethal White Guinea Pigs Are Special
Lethal white guinea pigs are always pure white with pink squinty eyes. They are genetically compromised and are almost always blind, deaf, and have chronic dental problems. They have poor immunity and may have internal issues. When both parents are carriers of the roan/Dalmatian gene, there is a 25% chance of their baby guinea pig being lethal white.