What Are Albino Animals and What Causes Albinism?
Albino animals have a congenital disease that cause them to look a little bit different than we’re used to. According to the National Geographic, “Albinism occurs when an individual inherits one or more mutated genes from both parents that interfere with the body’s production of melanin, the main pigment that determines the color of skin, fur, and eyes.” Without melanin, albino animals have white fur or skin, and often red or light blue eyes.
What Are The Risks of Albinism?
This rare, all-white condition is extremely uncommon and occurs in only one out of every 10,000 births, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. Due to the exoticism of these animals, there is a much higher risk of suffering at the hands of poachers. Additionally, without melanin, many of these animals are unable to rely on the typical camouflaging strategies for their species, making hiding from predators that much more difficult. Therefore, typically, albino animals have a far better chance of survival in captivity, where they can be protected from poachers and predators alike.
That’s not to say that albino animals are completely incapable of surviving in the wild on their own. On the contrary, there are many pockets of thriving albino animals scattered across the globe. In fact, in Olney, Illinois, there is a population of nearly a hundred albino squirrels, all of whom are so secure that the town itself encourages residents to feed them, and has passed laws to protect them from being hit by vehicles.
Which Animals Can Have Albinism?
Any animal can be born with albinism, and can present as either pure or partial albinos. Pure albino animals will have pink eyes, nails, scales, and skin, because without the pigmentation provided by melanin, the blood vessels in those areas show through. Partial albino animals, on the other hand, may maintain some coloration that is typical of their species, while having other parts of their body that are completely white.
See more amazing albino animals in the video below!
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