As the curious owner of guinea pigs, I conducted some research and consulted with a few professional breeders and veterinarians in order to determine Why Do Guinea Pigs Have Red Eyes? Here’s what I discovered about myself!
Albino guinea pigs have red eyes, which means they have albinism. In layman’s terms, it is a genetic mutation in which the guinea pigs’ skin, eyes, and fur are devoid of melanin pigmentation, as is the case in this case. As a result, the pink/red color of tissues behind the retina is reflected by the light coming from within the eye. Albinism is not associated with any additional health risks or complications.
An investigation found that albinism in guinea pigs is distinct from that in other animals.
If your guinea pigs are pure albinos, they will have white hair and pure red eyes. If they are black or brown, their eyes will be only red. If they are white, their eyes will be only red.
If your guinea pig’s eyes were not red at birth but developed later in their life, there is a chance that they have become inflamed as a result of the inflammation.
There is a medical explanation for this, which we will discuss in greater detail later in this piece.
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Why do some guinea pigs have red eyes?
This appearance is mostly caused by albinism. There is a possibility that your guinea pig has white fur accompanied by the red eyes.
Originally the albino guinea pigs(white hair and red eyes) were the only ones that had red eyes.
However, eventually, due to deliberate breeding, even other color breeds have come up that have red eyes.
This mutation causes a dominant gene to block the creation of an enzyme called tyrosinase. Tyrosinase is the enzyme that is responsible for the production of pigmentation.
This pigmentation, which is also known as melanin is what gives the eyes and fur the bright color and texture it has.
If a guinea pig lacks this pigment, then they will have red eyes, white coat, or even both in some cases.
However, some guinea pigs can develop a red eye at a later stage. This is mostly due to inflammation in their eyes.
This inflammation can be caused due to various diseases like Conjunctivitis, Glaucoma, & Some bacterial infections.
You must visit a vet if you see any signs of such conditions in your guinea pigs. We will also discuss more on this at the end of the article.
With all the basics clear, let us bust some popular myths that people have.
Are red eyed guinea pigs lethal?
No, red-eyed guinea pigs are not more dangerous or aggressive than any other guinea pig breed, and they are not lethal.
Always keep in mind that red eyes are most often caused by a lack of pigment in their eyes, which is known as albinism, or by a health condition other than that.
The color of your guinea pig’s eyes has absolutely nothing to do with his or her personality. Some guinea pigs, on the other hand, may be aggressive in their behavior.
Some piggies prefer to live in solitude, which is perfectly understandable given their nature. The first time a newly acquired guinea pig with red eyes appears in the home and the owner notices that their guinea pigs are fighting, they may believe that the color of the eyes is somehow indicative of evil or aggressive behavior in the guinea pigs.
However, the reality is that when guinea pigs are first introduced to a new environment, they go through a period of proving their dominance.
The fact that guinea pigs fight among themselves to determine who is the leader and who is the subordinate is completely normal.
That has nothing to do with the color of one’s eyes. Hence the belief that red-eye guinea pigs are lethal is a myth, according to the researchers.
Do all white guinea pigs have red eyes?
No, not all white guinea pigs need to have red eyes.
Red-eye usually happens due to albinism in guinea pigs. i.e., due to lack of pigment called melanin in their eyes.
However, if you have pure albino guinea pigs, then they will definitely have red eyes accompanied with snow-white fur.
No guinea pigs will have a white fur without the albino gene. Equally, No guinea pigs with red-eye will lack this gene as well.
Study By University Of Chicago
However, pure albino guinea pigs can have a dominant albino gene that resulted in pure white guinea pigs with red eyes.
The white color fur in the guinea pigs is definitely a result of the albino gene in their body. However, they don’t need to have red-eye as well.
Do red eyed guinea pigs have poor eyesight?
Yes, red-eyed guinea pigs have a slightly different vision than other regular guinea pigs.
According to a study conducted, Most red-eyed guinea pigs(including albino guinea pigs) have fewer rods in their eyes as compared to other guinea pig breeds.
These rods are actually photoreceptors that send messages to the brain, which scans the object to understand it better.
Now due to lack of rods, red-eyed guinea pigs need a little bit more time to understand and examine the object in front of them.
You might have seen your red-eyed guinea pigs bobbing and weaving her head while looking at something.
What they are actually doing is trying to scan the object to understand what it is.
The lack of photoreceptors in their eyes makes the initial sighting a little blurry. Thus, they need some more time to scan the object clearly.
Are red eyed guinea pigs blind?
No, red-eyed guinea pigs are not blind at all. As discussed earlier, these guinea pigs have fewer photoreceptors in their eyes; thus, they take some extra time to understand and examine an object.
Sometimes even when you place a bowl of food in front of your guinea pigs, they might take a while before going for it.
In this case, what they are doing is examining the object to understand what it is. This definitely doesn’t indicate that they are blind.
They have a slightly different vision. That’s all!
Does albinism place a guinea pig’s health in danger?
No, albinism doesn’t place your guinea pigs in any serious health hazards. An albino guinea pig or a red-eyes guinea pigs is a healthy guinea pig just like any other guinea pig.
However, there is only one thing you must keep in mind. If your guinea pigs have a dominant albino gene, then they are more sensitive to light.
If you place your guinea pigs in a brightly lit area of your home or direct sunlight, subsequently, they will get stressed out and run for hiding.
As crepuscular animals, guinea pigs don’t enjoy bright light and sunshine in general.
However, if your guinea pigs have a dominant albino gene, you must make sure you never keep them in direct sunlight as they are more prone to skin burn and heat stroke as compared to other guinea pig breeds.
If you have an albino guinea pig in-home, keep in mind that they prefer a dim light location. Adjust the lighting as per their need, or they might never come out of hiding and even may fall ill due to stress.
What causes red eyes in guinea pigs? Guinea pig red eyes infection?
Hyperemia, also known as red-eyes in guinea pigs, is a condition characterized by increased blood flow to the eyes. While some guinea pigs do have a dominant albino gene, this does not cause them to have red eyes.
Some guinea pigs develop inflammation in their eyes, which results in red eyes in some cases. Inflammation of the eyes of your guinea pigs occurs as a result of increased blood flow through the blood vessels in their eyes, which is caused by hyperemia (high blood flow).
Several factors can contribute to hyperemia in guinea pigs, each with their own set of symptoms. The following are some of the most common causes:
- Eye injury caused by a hay poke in the eyes
- Allergy caused by a foreign object of some sort
- Bacterial or fungal infection, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, and other eye conditions
Understanding whether or not something is wrong with their guinea pigs can be difficult for a new owner who is unfamiliar with the species.
In such a situation, you must be on the lookout for certain signs and symptoms of hyperemia. The following are some of the most common signs of hyperemia in guinea pigs:
- Eyes that are watering
- Hair loss or patches of hair around the eyes are common.
- Swelling around the eyes
- Insufficiency of vision
- posture with a hunch
- unable to move or eat anything
If your guinea pigs exhibit any signs of hyperemia, you should take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible. If hyperemia is not treated promptly, it can worsen and progress to a more serious health condition.
If your guinea pigs have hyperemia, your veterinarian may prescribe an eye drop, an ointment, or oral medications that must be administered to them on a regular basis.
It is critical to detect hyperemia in guinea pigs as soon as possible in order to prevent loss of vision.
What causes the red eyes in albino guinea pigs?
The iris of the guinea pig’s eyes reflects light, and the pupil of the eye reflects light. The amount of melanin particles present in the eyes determines the color of the eyes.
A well-spaced particle produces grey or blue eyes, whereas a larger number of melanin particles results in brown eyes.
Albino guinea pigs, on the other hand, do not have these melanin particles, and as a result, the light reflects directly through the blood vessels in their eyes, giving them a bright red appearance.
Is it true that albino guinea pigs are blind?
In fact, albino guinea pigs are not blind in the slightest. It is a myth that red-eyed guinea pigs are blind. This is simply not true.
However, they do have a slightly different vision than other guinea pig breeds, which is something to consider. As we mentioned earlier in the article, we have also discussed this.
What is the average lifespan of albino guinea pigs?
The albinism of guinea pigs will have no effect on the health or life expectancy of the animals.
They will live an average of 4-8 years, which is the same as any other guinea pig would live. In this article, you will learn more about the lifespan of a guinea pig.