THE LETHAL GENE - The
white ones that are deliberately bred to die.
Microphthalmia better known as the 'lethal gene' in guinea pig
breeding is cruel occurance thjat can happen in the breeding of
guinea pigs and yet it is also completely avoidable.
estimated that approximately 25% of guinea pigs born from the
breeding of two roan guinea pigs or two dalmation guinea pigs or two
dalmation or roan carriers (guinea pigs with this breed in their
background), will result in a lethal baby. A
lethal guinea pig is always completely white with bluish pink eyes. It is
worth noting that their are normal healthy pink eyed white
guinea pigs that are NOT lethals. These guinea pigs are not born
from roan or dalmation parents or with disabilities. A lethal baby
is born only from roan or dalmation parenting and
lethal babies have obvious deformities.
What is a roan guinea pig?
guinea pig has white hairs mixed with flecks of
another solid colour through the white hairs. Some roan guinea pigs
may only have a couple of roaned hairs which may not be easily
Below are photos of some roan guinea pigs.
What is a Dalmation guinea pig?
Dalmation guinea pig looks very similar to that of a Dalmation dog.
The dalmation guinea pig is of two colours being white with one
other solid colour. The dalmation guinea pig can come in several
colours including chocolate, lilac or black. The guinea pig will
have the same single solid colour on all four feet, ears and face
with a white blaze running up the face. The guinea pig will also
have the same colour 'spots' down the body and then white through
the rest of the body.
lethal baby born from a roan surrendered sow with no eyes and no
teeth at ACS Brisbane Shelter in 2009. Sadly the baby only survived
below: What a 'roan' guinea pig looks like. White hairs
mixed/flecked with another colour throughout all or parts of the
Shelters have had many roan guinea pigs surrendered each year. Many 'backyard' breeders do not know what a
roan or dalmation guinea pig is and as a result it is uncertain exactly how many
lethal babies are commonly born in Australia each year. ACS Shelters
have had several lethal babies born due to the ignorance
of those that have surrendered pregnant roan or dalmation guinea pigs to us. As a
result we have encountered dead lethal babies and babies with
deformities which have lived only to serve a life of disability.
Several of the ACS Shelters have been forced to keep the lethal
guinea pigs born that live due to their ongoing care requirements
needed in order for them to survive and live a happy as close to
normal life as they can.
Click on thumbnails below to enlarge photos.
terrible gene does not seem an issue to many. These breeds of guinea pig are
also deliberately bred in the pedigree world of guinea pigs for their
breed type and in turn to conform to a set standard. To achieve this
standard of perfection for the show table naturally litters need to
be bred each year.
the gene has been so inbred into many guinea pigs throughout
Australia it is not uncommon at all to see a roan guinea pig. The
roan gene is quite dominant in guinea pigs and roan offspring in
turn is guaranteed.
Lethal guinea pigs a born with one or more of the following
deformities and symptoms.
dead or dies within a few weeks of birth
blind in one or both eyes
with no eyes
deaf in one or both ears
with unpigmented eyes
severe teeth deformities/missing teeth.
Permanent internal damage
that survive, they will live their life with mild deformities. Most die young although
their have been reports of some living for several years.
does not support the breeding of roan or dalmation guinea
should be valued and every life born is a gift and such little
regard is common when it comes to the breeding of the roan gene.
Many roan guinea pigs each year are deliberately bred whereby the
guinea pigs owner knows full well that the roan gene will be bred on
again and that in turn a lethal baby has a chance of being born with
deformities, suffering and poor quality of life.
no greater cruelty than intentional cruelty. Sadly though many
lethal babies intentionally born, if they survive, are discarded by
those that know what they are.
do breed that are unaware of this gene may not even realise that
they have bred a lethal white guinea pig. In turn the babies
may be seen as a stillborn or those that do survive may end up being
further bred or sold. ACS Lakes Shelter had a lethal guinea pig
surrender brought into the shelter which had been found 'for
sale' in a local petshop.