Albino special care?


Post   » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:39 pm

My two pigs are all white, with red eyes. Does this mean they are albinos? I have read that there are no such thing as an albino pig, and that it is just a combination of their colors.
If they are albino however, do they need special care? Less sun, less time outside, anything like that? Please help, I am even worried about leaving the lamp on!

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Post   » Sat Apr 20, 2013 11:50 pm

Technically, I think there is no such thing as an albino pig, but for all intents and purposes, pink-eyed whites are pretty close.

Leaving the light on is fine, and they don't need any special care. Putting any haired pig in direct sunlight isn't usually a good idea because they can't tolerate anything above 85 degrees.

The Potato

Post   » Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:10 am

There is technically no albino gene in guinea pigs. To my knowledge, red-eyed pigs need no special care. You may notice that they are prone to a bit of light sensitivity, but you can see this in dark-eyed animals as well. The soft light from a bulb should not bother them. I would take care to keep their housing from direct sunlight, but there are other good reasons for this, such as overheating, as stated in the above post.


Post   » Sun Apr 21, 2013 6:55 pm

We call these pigs "pink eyed whites" or "PEWs." They are not albinos. The term "albino" refers to a gene mutation that produces a lack of pigment. The PEW does not have a LACK of pigment. Their white fur and pink eyes are a natural coloring in guinea pigs. So they have pigment.

You may be confusing your pigs with ones we call "lethal whites." The lethal white pig has a host of physical deformities like blindness, lack of eyes altogether, missing teeth, and any number of other problems. Many die shortly after birth and ones that do survive will need specialized care to stay alive. The lethal white pig comes about when someone foolishly breeds two guinea pigs with the roan coloring or two with the Dalmatian coloring. These pairings have a 25% chance of producing a lethal white pig and no knowledgeable breeder would purposely take a chance on such a pairing.

I love PEWs and I think they are beautiful. Many people are thrown off by the pink eyes and think they are "creepy", but not me. Most of them make up in personality what they lack in fancy coloring. The only difference in the care of PEWs compared to other pigs is that they tend to show dirt faster and usually need regular butt bathes to keep tidy looking in the rear.

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Post   » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:45 am

WICharlie, can you tell the difference between a lethal white and a PEW then just by looking at them? There is a beautiful PEW online for sale as his owner cannot look after him anymore but I was worried about the lethal white thing. He is only 12 weeks old. (bought from a pet shop at 8 weeks for a child!) I would really like to take him in, but unfortunatley would not have the proper amount of time to take care of a lethal...

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Post   » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:53 am

I'd ask about his eyes and teeth. Lethal's can have lots of teeth problems, if they have teeth, and are often blind.

Have a look at Fairy's thread in the Chronicles to see what a Lethal looks like.

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Post   » Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:54 am

Lethal whites' eyes are usually smaller and possibly misshapen. Their teeth are often wonky or totally missing. They're blind and deaf.

A PEW is a normal pig that just happens to be all white with pink eyes.

Take a look in The Cavy Chronicles on this site for the threads about Fairy for a look at a typical lethal white pig.


Post   » Mon Apr 22, 2013 10:19 am

I would think that if the above pig has lived the length he has with no special care, it is probably just a PEW. But, ditto on what others have said as far as what to look for. Most of the time a lethal white will not thrive unless it is being hand fed. The lack of healthy teeth makes it hard for the pig to eat properly. There HAVE been some instances where a lethal white has lived past the baby stage, but as stated, they are usually deaf and blind.


Post   » Mon Apr 22, 2013 2:23 pm

Popcorn and Pippin look happy pigs to me! They are certainly not lethals, as they have all their teeth, no problems seeing things, and are 3 years old.

Not to sure how to post pictures :/


Post   » Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:16 pm

I wanted all of you to know. There is such things as guinea pig albinos, they are a guinea pig with different genes. They don't usually live very long, but if yours is already a few months old your all clear. Good luck fellow Cavys!!!

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Post   » Fri Sep 16, 2016 7:27 am

What people call albino pigs are pretty much always pink eyed whites (PEWs).

Do you have a scientific link to albino pigs?


Post   » Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:33 am

I want to say that I stand by my previous post.

White pigs with pink eyes are not albino. I have never seen an albino pig in the years I was rescuing or heard of one. IF there was such a thing as a pig that had the albino mutation their eyes would most likely be grey/white because that condition causes the body to have NO coloring in it, a complete lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. I'm not talking about a lethal white which is an entirely different mutation.

Can animals be albino? Yes. There are documented cases of albinism in various types of animals. So I'm not saying that it can't happen. I'm just saying that I've never seen it. It's very rare and causes other problems so maybe a guinea pig that is born with it has a limited chance of survival.

Albino humans have a host of physical problems relating to their albinism. One very common concern is with their eyesight. Many have limited vision or eventually become blind. Obviously, they have to take extreme caution when exposed to the sun, as they can burn easily.


Post   » Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:15 pm

I have a PEW. She was one of the babies we had because one of our females was really a male.

She is gorgeous and spirited. She is slightly larger than her sisters, but not by much. She is incredibly smart and is the alpha of the offspring (I can't say "babies" anymore because they are all adults now); the two moms are the true alphas of the herd.

We named her Sugar because she is sweet, and I love her red eyes. Now when I see an all white pig that has normal (black) eyes, it looks weird to me. That strikes me as a bit odd because the rest of our pigs have normal eyes.

We don't do anything different for Sugar than we do for any of our other pigs. And the pigs themselves don't treat her any differently either. She is quite "normal," so I say go for it!

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Post   » Fri Sep 16, 2016 2:30 pm

I went looking for info and scientific references to albino guinea pigs showed up in a pdf that is almost 100 years old.

I also ran across a statement from a long time and experienced cavy breeder answering a question on allexpert who said:

"First of all there is no albinism in cavies (guinea pigs). They do not carry the gene as other species do. By definition an albino has white hair, red eyes and no pigment in the skin. That gene is not present in guinea pigs, even though you may see a white pig with red eyes."

I think she is saying that PEWs have pigment in the skin (a gene that gives the skin pigment) and are therefore not albinos.

This would fit with what WICharlie says. A genetics expert might be able to answer this definitively I am guessing would confirm this.

Edit: this paper from 1943, citing some of these old papers does mention albino guinea pigs:

Another question answered on yahoo 7 years ago by a longtime cavy breeder/judge/biology PhD appears to confirm there are albino guinea pigs:
" Albino and PEW (also known as REW) are exactly the same thing. "

Soooo, I am now a bit less confident.


Post   » Sat Sep 17, 2016 12:26 am

According to this link , albinism is an inherited condition. As such, it does make sense that the guinea pig may be an animal that does not manifest the condition. Few wild albino guinea pigs would have survived to adulthood to pass the gene onto offspring. Additionally, if albinism causes poor eyesight, sensitivity to sunlight, a propensity for sunburn and higher rate of cancer formation, as mentioned in the article, it would additionally effect a stunted lifespan for an animal that lives outdoors and has to run or hide from predators.

The fact that PEW guinea pigs see just as well as their colored counterparts and suffer from none of the other complications of albinism tells us these are not albino pigs.

Why are there so many white guinea pigs that exist? It is from the manipulation of the species once it became man. The guinea pig makes an ideal lab animal because guinea pig babies are born fully formed and can be moved very quickly to a precise diet so that scientists can control all aspects of the pig's environment from early on. Couple that with a short gestational period and a rather fast rate of growth from birth to adulthood AND add that it is a docile animal to keep and handle, it is no surprise that it became a popular animal used for science experimentation (NOT that I encourage their use in this of course!). It's easy to see why they quickly moved from the lab to becoming household pets as well.

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Post   » Sat Sep 17, 2016 7:26 am

PEW's pink eyes certainly do function fine and there are guinea pigs with the same pink eyes and other coats.


Post   » Sat Sep 17, 2016 2:16 pm

My PEW's parents were siblings from the same litter. Another sibling of theirs was white and orange (just like my female) except she had red eyes. So when my PEW was born I figured the gene for red eyes must be recessive and that both parents had it.


Post   » Sun Sep 18, 2016 5:56 pm

I should add that I know my PEW is not albino, because she has developed a Himalayan (sp?) look -- she has dark gray ears and a dark gray dusting on a couple of her feet.

And got the T-shirt

Post   » Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:03 pm

Then she's not a PEW. She's at least partly Himalayan.


Post   » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:10 pm

So she's not a PEW even though she has red eyes and is completely white everywhere except the grayish tint to her ears and just a hint of it on the skin of her feet (the hair is white, though, it looks weird)? She was completely white when she was born. Some have said she will develop a "moustache" but there is no hint of that at all. And there is no black at all anywhere. She is 1.5 years old.

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