Abnormalities in guinea pigs
In the wild, particularly amongst pack animals, as soon as a young male becomes fertile he is hounded out of the family group by the dominant male. His motive is to defend his right to mate with the females, but the effect is to avoid the risk of inbreeding, a fundamental requirement for the health of future generations.
We only have to look at the British Bull dog, the squashed nosed Pekinese or the German shepherd dog to see the disastrous results of humankind’s intervention in animal breeding to it’s own particular specifications. In these cases, appalling respiratory problems, poor immune systems and weak hips are the result.
The kind of abnormalities seen in guinea pigs, caused by inbreeding are weak immune systems and in the main, problems in the head. Undershot jaws, maloccluded teeth and cataracts being the most common, the latter being most common of all in the Abyssinian breed. Cleft pallets can occur but are less usual and crook feet. Do not confuse the last problem with quite a few young who are born with these feet, which are usually twisted inwards at the ankles, as a result of laying in an awkward position in the womb. You can soon tell the difference by gently manipulating the feet a day after birth. Those that are deformed will be firmly set in that position while the others will be quite flexible and can be made to straighten by lightly binding them in micropore tape for a week.
There is nothing that can be done to correct deformed feet, including euthanasia!. Many vets are keen to go down this path when any animal is not perfect. These animals cope very well and have as good a quality of life as their straight limbed companions. I am certain than an animal’s abilities to cope with disabilities are far superior to human being’s for the simple reason that they cannot asked the pointless question, ‘Why me?.’
Where euthanasia is the only merciful answer is in all cases of cleft pallets for I have never known an animal to survive for more than a few months with this problem and those months could not, in any way, be regarded as of good quality. Most young with cleft pallets die within a week. Either because they cannot suckle properly or the milk finds it’s way into their lungs