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!
- And got the T-shirt
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.
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.
- And got the T-shirt
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 domesticated...by 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.