An Albino guinea pig is something that would make you go ‘Awww’ the very instance you lay your eyes on them. Although these pigs are actually a species of rodents, they are called guinea pigs for some reason.
The albino guinea pig is not a species, but rather a condition in normal guinea pigs. It is kind of a tragic story that even though they are one of the best kinds of guinea pigs, their life span is a lot shorter than their counterparts.
You might think that if they live a short life, it should be a life that befits the quote ‘If I am to burn, it shall as well be bright’, but that is not to be. Even though there are people who adopt them and love them and take immense care of them, it is not enough to magically make them more healthy.
The albino guinea pigs are very vulnerable, and their lives are short because of all the problems that they have within their bodies. Their albinism signifies all the problems that they might have related to their health. There is rarely any albino guinea pig who does not have any health issues aside from being an albino, it might even not be possible.
Even though they live a short life, they try to live it to their fullest, even when their lives are constantly threatened to be brought to an end by their diseases and abnormalities. They try to be happy and make others around them happy as well. After all, there is such a thing as ‘Broken but beautiful.
In this article, I am going to try to cover all the basic information that you’ll need to know about these tiny little balls fur and how they live their lives, and a lot more.
Are Albino Guinea Pigs Real?
This is the question you will definitely have to face whether you are going to get your new Albino guinea pig or you already have it. There is a lot of confusion about this specific kind of guinea pigs, and hence today, we will try to clear the confusion totally based upon facts.
Albino Guinea pigs are probably the most popular and adorable guinea pigs among all other 12 guinea pig breeds. Perhaps, these are not even a type of breed. Yes, the Albino guinea pig is not a specific breed but the result of a condition caused by some genetic disorder.
As the Albino guinea pig is not a type of breed but a condition, it is very rarely found. Thus, the existence of these guinea pigs is always questioned by many. It is one of the popular topics to debate among guinea pig lovers or animal lovers in general.
As the Albino guinea pig is the kind of pig that is rarely found, some problems have arrived due to its unavailability. There are always scams associated when it comes to having some rare item or in this case pet.
Thus, you will get to see several debates on the internet about whether people are having a true or a fake Albino guinea pig, and such questioning about this rare pig is expected considering all the confusion and rumors.
Now that we know that Albino guinea pig is a real thing, you must be wondering, ‘why is this species so rare?’. Well, let’s go ahead and find out the reason behind the rare appearance of these Albino Guinea pigs.
Why Are Albino Guinea Pig So Rare?
In terms of animals or pets, most amazing animals are always rare to find, for example, the sugar glider or our albino guinea pig. There are two primary reasons for the Albino guinea pig being extremely rare.
The first reason for being rare is it is not a species that can breed to produce numerous albino guinea-bred pigs. These albino guinea pigs are found naturally in the forests or close to domestic areas. These are just the same ordinary guinea pigs that are infected with a disease called Albinism.
This genetic condition is caused by a deficiency of melanin pigmentation. The absence of melanin pigment imparts iconic white fur to the albino guinea pig. This disease is found rarely among guinea pigs, and hence albino guinea pigs are rarely found.
Another reason for the significantly small population of albino guinea pig species lies in the color of their fur. The complete white fur of these guinea pigs makes them difficult to hide in the surrounding environment in case of any threat.
These guinea pigs are small animals and can be easily eaten by wild animals like foxes or snakes. They do not have any strong defense mechanism, which makes them easy prey for other animals. Thus the small size, along with bright white fur, doesn’t seem to help them in any way.
Thus, the adorable-looking fur becomes a disadvantage when it comes to survival. This distinctive color helps other bigger animals to spot this albino guinea pig easily and hunt. Thus due to frequent hunting by animals, we get to see few albino guinea pigs only.
Now that your doubts and questions related to the albino guinea pig are cleared, it is time to understand what makes a regular guinea pig an albino guinea pig.
What Is An Albino Guinea Pig?
The best and easiest way of understanding the albino guinea pig is probably by the nomenclature of this animal. Let’s break down the name in the following manner for easy and better understanding: Albino-Guinea-Pig.
The term ‘Albino’ describes a disorder related to pigments of the skin. The disorder causes little to no production of melanin pigment. Due to the absence of color pigment ‘melanin’, the fur of the albino guinea pig remains white instead of any other color combination.
Thus the term ‘Albino’ is what makes our guinea pig special. Moving on to ‘Guinea-pig’, here the things get a little confusing. As far as the term Guinea is concerned, it was supposed to represent the country of origin of the albino guinea pig. But that is not the case here.
Guinea is a coastal country in the west region of South Africa. However, the albino guinea pig is not really native to Guinea. Instead, it is native to the Andes of South America. This type of guinea pig is not found in the wild part of South America, but in the domestic areas.
Another confusing term about the nomenclature is ‘Pig’. The Albino guinea pig is not actually a pig but still categorized as guinea pigs. This animal belongs to species called ‘Rodent’ and not ‘Pig’. This animal similar to hens is domesticated and kept as livestock in some parts of South America.
Genetics Behind Albino Guinea Pigs
Scientifically speaking, genetics is the only thing that made the albino guinea pig a very special animal. It is interesting to know how a disorder can make an animal beloved by many and accepted as a pet.
It is surprising that the colors of a guinea pig depend upon genetics. In general, these animals are seen in black, cream, chocolate, red, golden, or the different combinations of these colors. However, all these colors are the result of two types of pigments.
The pigment called eumelanin pigment is responsible for black color and pheomelanin pigment for red color. Different combinations of these will produce different colored fur. However, you may notice, white fur is not possible in the presence of these pigments.
Even with the absence of any white color-producing pigment, the Albino guinea pig has white color and that is because of genes. There are two abnormal conditions on a genetic level that imparts white color to its fur.
There are color dilution genes present in every guinea pig. These genes are responsible for different colored guinea pigs. They alter the colors by diluting black and red color pigments to produce different colored fur.
These genes can sometimes dilute the pigments to such an extent where the guinea pig looks almost white but with pinkish eyes. Such type is called pink-eyed white guinea pigs but it’s not really an Albino guinea pig.
Albinism is a disorder we have already talked about a lot. If a guinea pig is affected or suffering from albinism, it will lose its ability to make pigments that generate colors. Thus making our perfectly white albino guinea pig.
Is It A Good Idea To Keep Albino Guinea Pig As A Pet?
We usually keep animals as pets for accompanying us. Thus we love our pets just like any other human being and we expect the same love and affection in return. Who doesn’t like to be cuddled right?
You may be used to cuddling and kissing if you have a pet dog but you might want to reconsider things when it comes to keeping an Albino guinea pig as a pet. To answer briefly, yes, you can definitely keep them as a pet, though it comes with a few but’s.
An albino guinea pig is a highly social animal as it has been living domestically in the presence of humans for ages. Also, they have the same placental structure as humans. However, it means that they are used to do experiments for humans, but let’s keep that aside.
This cute little friend will never hurt anyone unless they are threatened, who doesn’t fight back when threatened, right? They tend to bite if found in danger or threatened. Thus, if you are planning to get one albino guinea pig, make sure they are in a calm and safe environment.
This animal is said to be an extremely good de-stressor. If you get one, you will definitely enjoy watching them a lot more than watching fish swimming in your fish tank. Get a big enough cage for your pet to roam and watch them all day doing silly things.
The Albino guinea pig, being closely related to humans, can develop a good bond with you if given some time. It is easy and fun to handle them once your friendship has been established but they aren’t super friendly or cuddly.
They don’t like to be cuddled for any longer duration. Give them their space and you both will be good to go.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Having An Albino Guinea Pig
Now that we have discussed if it is a good idea to keep albino guinea as a pet or not, let us make it easy for you to make a decision about your new pet. Following are some advantages and disadvantages you should definitely consider before getting yourself a new pet.
- You get to keep a rare and unique pet.
- They are super friendly and can stay with other pets like dogs and cats.
- They are a quiet and low-maintenance pet.
- They do not require any special care.
- Don’t Expect long cuddles like the ones you get from dogs.
- They require constant attention and petting.
- They have special food requirements, unlike ordinary pets.
- Can be smelly if hygiene is not maintained.
- Not as smart as dogs.
- They have a shorter life span of 2-6 years.
Why Do Albino Guinea Pigs Die So Soon?
A normal, healthy guinea pig will have a lifespan of around 4 to 8 years and sometimes even longer than that. As compared to the healthy guinea pigs, the lives of an albino guinea pig are very short as I mentioned before and that is due to a lot of different reasons.
The reason they die so young is that they have congenital deformities. More often than not, these rodents are born blind. The blindness could either be in one or both of their eyes. They also sometimes get poor hearing or no hearing ability at all.
These are the reasons that these rodents require an immense amount of care and attention. So it would be a good idea if you thought about it before deciding to adopt them and bringing them home.
Even after you bring them home, you should take them to vets for regular checkups. Because if you do not do that, the chances of prolonging their lifespans will lessen.
One of the main reasons that the albino guinea pigs die is getting pneumonia or inflammation in their lungs. When you think about all these things, you might think that having these pets will be a lot of fuss. But as compared to other pets like cats or dogs, these rodents require a lot less maintenance.
If you think these pets look very beautiful and will want to try to breed them, I would strongly advise you against it. If you feel like you can take care of these pets, think about how the offsprings of 2 similar albino guinea pigs will suffer.
The number of diseases or deformities that they might have would be a lot more than their parents. So the best thing would be to give them a comfortable home till they live.
Health Condition Related Issues In An Albino Guinea Pig
When you are setting up a home for your albino guinea pig, keep in mind that the bedding and other things you use for it are good for the guinea pig. If there is anything that irritates their eyes or other organs even a bit, it could lead to a serious health issue.
Things like hay, the bedding material, or even fights with other guinea pigs can result in them getting irritation in their eyes. This is the same reason why a lot of people are very hesitant when they think about getting multiple guinea pigs. If the guinea pigs turn out to be friendly and do not quarrel with each other much, then it would prove to be a great bet.
Otherwise, if the pigs turn out to be unfriendly towards each other and one of them is an albino guinea pig then very serious issues will arise. This mostly happens when there are 2 male guinea pigs in the same cage or living quarters. Males tend to sometimes fight each other to show their dominance on the other.
Although, that scenario is the exception, not the norm. Guinea pigs are mostly social animals and they like being with other guinea pigs. When they live with more of their peers, the chances of them becoming stressed or lonely decreases and that is because even if they feel unhealthy, they have their friends with them to make them feel better.
I was not lying when I said they are closely related to humans. Humans and guinea pigs are both social animals. The albino guinea pigs have just gotten the bad end of a deal and they have to live with it for their whole lives. Let us have a look at some of the health-related issues in these pigs.
An albino guinea pig can go through a lot of ulcer issues. It can get a corneal ulcer that will make it stop eating. This issue can be resolved if you went to the exotics vet and took a specially prescribed ointment for your guinea pig’s eye.
Another type of ulcer is the gastric ulcer. The albino guinea pigs have a very sensitive gastrointestinal tract, not unlike the rabbits. This will again cause them to stop eating and like in the earlier case, you should take them to the vet to make sure they do not have this issue for a prolonged period of time.
If you want to know about prevention techniques for this issue, you should start by cleaning the cages of homes of these tiny furballs. You should not just clean them once or twice a week. It would be best if you did that every day.
The guinea pigs tend to urinate and defecate everywhere in their homes and that can result in contamination of their food if it is not cleaned regularly. If their food gets contaminated, it would definitely result in gastrointestinal infections.
Because the guinea pigs are so sensitive towards these gastrointestinal ulcers or just ulcers in general, they are used to experiment and test the anti-ulcer medications that are made before testing them on any human.
Lethal White Syndrome
This is something that is not exactly about albino guinea pigs but these are often confused with each other so I am going to tell you about these too. There are some pigs that are white genetically because they have two copies of roan patterning, which is when all the white hairs are equally distributed on their coat with the colored hair.
This is obviously different from being an albino guinea pig but they are thought as the same sometimes. These guinea pigs also have many health issues and they are similar to the albino guinea pigs. These health issues include:
- Having small or missing eyes
- Being partially or completely blind
- Being partially or completely deaf
- Missing or having deformed teeth
- Not being able to properly digest or absorb nutrients from their food
The lethal white guinea pigs die at a young age as well. If they are taken care of properly and in the best way, they might live up to 3 years. But that rarely happens. Because all this sounds so familiar to what an albino guinea pig goes through, you shouldn’t be surprised if they get mistaken for the other.
Other Health Issues
Like the usual guinea pigs, the albino guinea pigs can also get some common health issues like respiratory tract infection, bladder stone, vitamin C deficiency, an upset stomach, or some skin problems. These skin problems can include parasites, scurvy, fungal infections, barbering, and abscesses.
Are Guinea Pigs Mice, Pigs, Or Chinchillas?
If you go by the name, an albino guinea pig or just guinea pigs, in general, are called pigs. But when you look at them, you will think that they look like mice or rats. But what are they actually? Mice or pigs or something else?
When you go by the scientific answer, guinea pigs are from the family of chinchillas and porcupines. The similarities with these animals are that albino guinea pigs are very active at sunrise and sunset. They eat their food during this time and like to be groomed or explore their home around this time as well.
Some other thing that they must have gotten from their relatives is the need to burrow themselves under the ground or inside rock crevices. All these creatures are super sensitive to sound as well.
Do The Albino Guinea Pigs Like Being Touched?
Generally speaking, the albino guinea pigs like being groomed. Although you should keep in mind that you do not like to get too friendly or cuddly. They might like it for a while but after that, they get irritated and it is better to let them go in such a case.
Some people even get Salmonella enteritidis after they have been in contact with their pet albino guinea pigs. You should absolutely refrain from kissing them. Remember the dementors from the Harry Potter series? They used to suck people’s souls when they kissed them.
Kissing your pet won’t have consequences as dire as that, but there might be the chance of getting severe diarrhea when you do that. So why not just keep the kissing part to your partners and let the guinea pigs live in peace. Not kissing them is just going to help you keep your washroom unoccupied.
How Affectionate Are The Albino Guinea Pigs With Their Owners?
Like I mentioned before, the albino guinea pigs are as sociable as humans themselves and they are even somewhat closely related to us. When you adopt an albino guinea pig and start taking care of it, it will eventually grow used to your scent.
If you are taking good care of your pet, they will even start looking forward to spending time with them. They will want to have you near them as well. This will happen especially if you give them regular treats, it might sound a bit selfish but they will actually like you as well.
They actually start liking you emotionally and a bond forms. They like it when you pet them lightly. Their body will even vibrate slightly to tell you to keep doing it. They would want to be with you and if you are away often, they will love it when you come back.
How To Keep Your Pet From Getting Bored?
The Albino guinea pigs can get bored easily when they do not have any source of entertainment. You can do things like hanging a crumpled piece of paper from the top of their cage to keep them entertained.
You can make something that will look like a tunnel because these pigs love having hideouts as I mentioned before. You can let them roam out of their cages from time to time but make sure that there is nothing around them that could harm them like sharp things or even predators or children.
Why Are The Albino Guinea Pigs Used For Testing Human Medicines?
The albino’s guinea pigs or just the guinea pigs, in general, are used a lot for the testing or experimentation of human medicines. The reason behind that is that their placental structure is the same as humans.
They have a similar gestation period as humans, what this refers to is the time between conception and birth where the fetus grows and develops in the womb of the mother. The gestation period of these pigs is 59 to 72 days which can be compared with the trimester of human pregnancy.
The guinea pigs can get pregnancy toxemia due to an exponential rise in blood pressure as well. The guinea pigs are used for toxicology in laboratory experiments as well. As compared to humans, the guinea pigs are expendable.
So whenever some medicine is to be made for humans, they are tested on the guinea pigs first. It is not just medicines that are tested on these furballs. They have to endure the testing for lotions, soaps, perfumes, moisturizers, and whatnot.
An albino guinea pig is just a creature that has been unlucky enough to have a ton of health issues dumped on it. It’s like being born to get various products tested on them wasn’t enough that they had to be even more vulnerable.
The albino guinea pigs are born due to a genetic defection that makes their hair white and it is called albinism. Because of that genetic deformations, they get health issues like ulcers, blindness, deafness, and a whole lot of other problems.
When you bring an albino guinea pig home, you should keep in mind that you will need to take the best care of it and never lack in providing it all the things it needs. Give it proper food and diet, the proper care, and the proper environment to live in.
You should even consider getting to some friends or giving it toys to keep it entertained. As long as these furballs are alive, you should try to make their lives as easy and good as possible. That is the least we can do for them when they have already done so much for us.