The lethal white guinea pig might seem as mythical as a unicorn and as rare as a mermaid, but these beautiful animals are quite real. And as someone who loves guinea pigs, I find them amazing and fascinating with their pure white fur and their delicately pink eyes.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the amazing lethal white guinea pig. We’ll talk about what’s so special about them, how to take care of them, and if you should get one. But first, let’s find out what a lethal white guinea pig actually is and how to tell if you’ve already got one.
What Are Lethal White Guinea Pigs?
Lethal White Guinea Pigs are guinea pigs that are striking in appearance with their white fur and pink eyes, but these cuties are also genetically compromised. It may be surprising to learn that the lethal white gene is not a result of inbreeding. It is called microphthalmia and it can happen when certain breeds of guinea pig with white fur are bred together.
The hallmark characteristics of a lethal white guinea pig are pure white fur and smallish pink eyes. They are frequently born deaf, blind, and with an unusual head tilt. Some of these little fur babies have severe teeth problems, which make it hard for them to eat. They may be skinny and small because they can’t get enough nutrition.
Sometimes they are confused with albinos, but an albino guinea pig is not the same thing as a lethal white.
Lethal whites are the result of breeding specific types of guinea pigs together. For example, breeding a roan to a roan, a dalmatian to a dalmatian, or even a dalmatian to a roan creates a 25% chance that the offspring of these combinations will have the lethal white gene.
Responsible breeders will avoid these crosses and would never sell a lethal white. Because of this, you are unlikely to find one in a pet store. Most of the time, they occur by accident. You may find them at animal shelters because they are so difficult to care for.
How To Tell If Your Guinea Pig Is Lethal White
It might be difficult to tell the difference between a PEW (pink-eyed white), an albino, and a Lethal White. However, you can look for particular characteristics to see if your guinea pig is a lethal white or not.
Generally speaking, lethal white guinea pigs are easy to recognize if you know what to look for. First, you can get a pretty good idea if you have just spotted a lethal white by their white fur and small pink eyes. It is pretty typical to see lethal whites running around their cage without purpose, making lots of random noise. You might notice that they have dirty mouths because they have trouble eating.
More specifically, you can look at these more detailed characteristics if you suspect a guinea pig has the lethal white gene:
A lethal white will be pure white in fur. If it has spots, it is not a lethal white. PEWs, or Pink-eyed whites, are a different breed of cavy. They may look similar, but PEWs do not have the poor health characteristics that lethal whites have.
A lethal white will have pink eyes. They may be small, squinty, or half closed. They may be blind. If they are blind, they may seem to stagger around their cage or wander purposely as if they do not know where they are going.
Lethal whites have problems with their teeth. They may not have all of them or they may grow incorrectly. They may have underdeveloped jaws, as well, leading to difficulty eating and poor weight gain.
A lethal white may be deaf and may seem to wheek randomly rather than purposefully. Some folks report they are noisier than typical guinea pigs!
Difficulty eating leads to problems with weight gain. You might see that lethal whites are on the smaller and thinner side because they can’t eat properly and some with digestion issues cannot absorb nutrients as well.
You may notice that a lethal white bumps into things because it cannot see. (https://www.haltnorth.com/the-blog/is-that-guinea-pig-a-lethal-white). They may wander purposelessly and have trouble finding their food, water, and sleeping quarters.
Many of these babies are born with an unusual head tilt, as if their head is leaning to one side.
They may also have compromised immune systems and neurological issues and problems with their internal organs. You may not be able to see these problems, but you might see that their feces are not typical, their bodies are thin, or their coats are not as full and shiny as a typical guinea pig.
What’s special about Lethal Whites?
Lethal Whites are extra special little creatures. They are special because of their pure white fur, their small red eyes, and their sweet disposition. Their antics are highly amusing as they wander around their cage making lots of noises! They will love to cuddle with you.
But these little cuties need exceptional care. They are very rare but have many health problems and a shortened life span. You may find your lethal white has an underdeveloped jaw, teeth, eyes, and internal organs. You may need to syringe feed it due to the trouble it has eating.
How To Take Care of Lethal White Guinea Pigs
Lethal White Guinea Pigs need extra special care (but they are worth it!) First, remember they have trouble seeing, if they can see it all. I find that a lethal white needs a flat hutch with very few decorations for them to run into. They may not be able to go up ramps or hide under blankets because of their vision issues. Always keep it’s food and housing in the same places so it can always find them. Keep a consistent cleaning and feeding schedule because routine helps them to feel safe.
Your special piggy may need to be syringe fed for its whole life, depending on how well it can find food and eat. You will probably need to feed your fur baby every 3 to 4 hours. Of course, you can purchase a feed mix such as Critical Care or some other specialized guinea pig food for syringe feeding, or you can make your own.
Your guinea pig may also need regular dental work if its teeth do not grow correctly. It will need regular vet care and you’ll have to watch close to keep it as healthy as possible. I found that weighing guinea pigs regularly helps you know if their health is declining. In guinea pigs, health can decline rapidly so you need to keep a close watch for issues that may crop up.
You may find that another gentle guinea pig with a sweet disposition will be comforting to your lethal white and help him or her enjoy its life. Many guinea pigs like to live in communities and a healthy buddy might be just what your lethal white needs!
You can find more information about specific lethal white care here.
Are Lethal Whites Albino Guinea Pigs?
It is easy to confuse albino guinea pigs with lethal white guinea pigs, although they are not the same. An albino animal is one that cannot produce any pigment, leaving the fur white and the eyes red.
It is thought that there are no true albino guinea pigs at all! A lethal white is the result of breeding certain breeds together, resulting in white fur and a variety of health problems.
PEWs, or Pink-Eyed Whites, or REWs, Ruby-Eyed Whites, are guinea pigs that have been bred to have white fur and pink or red eyes. These are not albinos or Lethal Whites, but they do look similar. However, you’ll notice the body composition of a PEW is much fuller and healthier.
How Long Do They Live?
Lethal White Guinea Pigs have compromised immune systems and a host of serious health problems. Because of this, they may only live a few months up to three years, and that is if they have been exceptionally cared for.
They may get sick easily due to their compromised immune systems or they may pass away in their sleep due to unknown genetic problems. Higher functioning lethal whites may live longer but some will not live past infancy.
What is Their Diet?
Healthy guinea pigs can eat a mixture of guinea pig pellets and timothy hay as well as some healthy treats and a few vegetables. However, your lethal white may have digestive issues and teeth issues that prevent them from eating a typical guinea pig diet. You may have to syringe feed your guinea pig to get them all the nutrients and calories they need to survive.
You can purchase Critical Care Guinea Pig food by Oxbow to syringe feed your guinea pig. You can also create your own using this guide from Kavee.
You can also be a little bit creative. If your lethal white enjoys carrots, you might give them carrot puree or finely shredded carrots. If they like pellets or treats, you can soak them in water to soften them up a little bit so your guinea pig can chew them even if he doesn’t have all his teeth.
Should I get A Lethal White?
You should only get a lethal white guinea pig if you have the time and resources to provide them with the special care that they need. They will have expensive vet bills and need frequent care and feedings. They will be extremely dependent on you to watch their health and their life-spans are very short.
That being said, lethal white guinea pigs deserve loving homes, too, and will reward you with cuddles and love just like any other cavy would. There are plenty of lethal whites that need loving homes because not everyone can provide the care that they need. If you are able to provide this care and show them all the love they need, then a lethal white guinea pig might just be right for you!
My Opinion On Lethal Whites.
I think that lethal white guinea pigs are rare and beautiful guinea pigs with loving dispositions. However, their lives are extremely short and may be filled with challenges and even suffering. These special needs babies make loving pets, and if you have the means and the time to care for them and give them the best life possible, you should make them yours. However, you should avoid intentionally breeding for the lethal white gene because of the suffering it can cause. Instead, adopt or foster an existing, beautiful lethal white to give it the best life it can have.