Before assuming that little PEW in the window is in need of special care, you can answer a few simple questions.
Depending on your answers and the good old-fashioned gut feeling, you can choose to seek further help for an animal who may or may not be thriving in the current situation.
Chain stores and large corporate stores receive animals from breeders.
There are two reasons a lethal white will likely never see the inside of a large chain pet store.
Lethal whites would likely not survive the journey.
A breeder would not likely release a "defective" animal to a pet store.
This isn't to say it would never happen. The breeder might take the chance that the defects wouldn't be noticed, or would bank on the fact that the store would still try to sell the animal.
Small local pet stores work closely with local breeders as well as buy shipments of specialty animals. Some stores are run by family members who have an interest in backyard breeding. These smaller stores may put out a lethal white pig as a special "albino" breed. Particularily high functioning lethals may be presented as something special you ought to have in your home.
Do you see roaned patterns on older guinea pigs who may be the parent?
In a cage of roaned pigs, the one white pig may be in with his litter mates. An older roaned pig for sale could be the dad or mum who produced the lethal white pig and is no longer desired.
Likely, the roaned parent will be a male. Females can keep producing sellable litters while males are easy to come by.
This, of course, may not be a question you can answer. Much depends on the choices a merchant makes in what he puts out on his floor.
Above and below are just a few examples of roan patterned guinea pigs.
In comparison to others around him, is he thin, or nice and round?
Does he hide or seem confused?
Or can he keep up with the other pigs as everyone runs away from you?
Is he smaller than the others, or is he a similar size?
A lethal white will have trouble eating because his litter-mates will keep him from the food. If the dish is placed in a different spot each day, he will have trouble finding the dish. His teeth may also be deformed or non-existent, so eating and chewing may be painful.
Does he seem to run into things like walls or the side of the pigloo?
Does he perch on top of the pigloo and seem uncertain if he can come down?
Does he prefer to run backwards into corners and huddle? Bumping your butt into a secure corner is preferable to ramming your nose into the wall for the fiftieth time.
Look at his eyes.
If they are pink and mostly closed, he is probably blind. He has no reason to want to open them all the way, because they have never worked for him.
High functioning lethal whites may look similar to a regular guinea pig. But there will be no spark in the eye.
Some lethal whites have much smaller eyes or the eyes are not developed at all.
He may not wheek while you are there. But if he does, he will be loud and random because he cannot hear himself. Being a guinea pig, wheeking is a thing he does because he can. But it is a not a thing he does in response to anything he can see or hear.
If the pig you see looks like he is thin, small, bullied, or seems lost or confused, he may be a lethal white.
If he backs up a lot, or makes unusually loud noises, or it seems he is stuck on the pigloo and is afraid to jump down, you may want to pursue getting him some help.
You can go to Guinea Lynx and read up on lethal whites. Or contact a guinea pig rescue in your area and ask for help. Ask questions and tell people about what you observed.
Lethal White Guinea Pigs = Financial and Emotional Commitment.
Depending on the extent of his genetic compromises, the pig may need a lot of dental work, and special food and monitoring for health conditions.
Dental work entails anesthesia for guinea pigs, which means a high risk of loss for a lethal white, whose body functions are already compromised. Some lethals may need dental work every few months. Add to all of the medical and feeding expenses the risk of heartbreak from losing your baby at a young age.
Do not buy or "spring" the animal and assume someone will take it off your hands unless you know you have a solid resource who has already agreed to help you.
Many rescues have intake waiting lists that are quite long.
Small animal rescues also often work out of their homes. They face a constant challenge of funding and relying on asking for donations with no light at the end of the tunnel in sight.
If you know where the animal will go and you have a solid foundation on which you can move forward, do what is right for the animal. But know, going in, that lethal whites are not a responsibility to take lightly.
Any animal you choose to bring into your family is a significant decision to make. A lethal white carries with it more responsibility, both time-wise and in financial terms.
Of course, if you have found a perfectly healthy PEW, your best choice is to let him stay in the pet store. Consider going to your local shelter or contacting a small animal rescue before you buy a pet store pig.
Next blog, let's look at pet store animals and making the best decision you can about whether or not you bring one home.