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Guinea Pigs/piggy eye sight


QUESTION: I just got a new piggy. He is about 5 months old. I am wondering about his eyesight. He has red eyes but does have tri color coat. The issue is he doesn't seem to see very well. He doesn't look around he cage to see what's going on (like other piggies I have had in the past), and will only go to the sound of my voice. I have had other red eyed pigs before, but they didn't seem to have the problem he does. His eyes are not white (as I have read that's the way bilind pigs are). If I wave my finger near his eye he has no response. I am more than willing to take on the responsibility of caring for an Piggie like this, I would
just like your insight. Thanks in advance.

American Himalayan
American Himalayan  
ANSWER: Guinea pigs don't necessarily blink as we do. So just waving your finger near his eye may not give you the answer you're looking for. The 'tri colored coat shouldn't be an issue, but the red eyes are caused by a dilution gene that blocks the pigment in the eyes.

There are certain coat color that are supposed to have red eyes.  One is the Himalayan, which has black points i.e. nose, feet ears are black while the rest of the coat is white. Here is a picture of a Himalayan. I raised Himis for many years.

Pure white pigs can be either dark eyed or white eyed. A pink eyed white is referred to as a PEW. Cream is another color that can have either red or black eyes. Pigs that have diluted colors always have red eyes. Again it is this dilution gene that causes this.

The red eyes are no different in how they would function than dark eyes. The color in the eye is diluted to the point that what you are seeing is the blood in the back of the eye that gives it this unique color. But there is not anything that should cause a pig to be blind.

As you say, he doesn't have any milky appearance to the eye. So I don't believe he is actually blind, he is probably just not responding as you are expecting him to.

Having said that I must add that there is no special circumstance that a blind pig would need in order to have a quality of life. So even if he were truly blind he has already learned to function using his other senses, hearing and smell.

As for not paying attention to his surroundings he just may not be that interested. The point is that he has no special needs, nor does he need any special accomodations if he is blind. I would love to see his picture so I might be able to tell you what his coloring is and what genetically has caused this.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

nibbler 1
nibbler 1  

nibbler 2
nibbler 2  
QUESTION: Thank you for your response. I have attached a couple of pictures of Nibbler for you.

Thank you for the pigtures. He's very beautiful. As for his color, he is what is called a beige,red and white. On the show table he would be entered as a 'broken' meaning he has more than one color and definite patching.

If he were black, red and white he'd be called a TSW or Tortoise Shell and White. When the black gene is diluted that becomes beige and is in a different catagory for show purposes.

I think I am seeing a particularly special sheen in his coat that is the earmark of a Satin.  It's most prominent in the white and red colors. It's there in the beige as well but not as visually well seen as the white and red.

A Satin coat has hollow hair shafts which allow the light to shine right through them, giving them a glistening appearance, especially in the sunlight.

As I mentioned before, certain colors must have red eyes and beige is one of them. Beige is a dilution of black and as that gene dilutes the black in the coat it also dilutes the black from the eye, leaving them with a red eye.

He is beautiful, but I see nothing that would make me think this boy has a visual problem. I think he is just more comfortable with himself and isn't curious enough to stare at everything around him.  I think you have a perfectly healthy and beautiful boy and nothing to worry about.

Thank you again for the pictures.

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Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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