Do The White Thing: 7 More Amazing Albino Animals
Albinism is one of the few visible genetic “aberrations” humans share with other animals. This distinctive lack of pigment displayed by albino animals, along with the beauty and rarity of its presentation, has given rise to numerous myths, legends and practices, not all of them positive in tone.
Albino Sea Turtle
Sea turtles can live to surprisingly long ages but they suffer from high mortality when they’re young. Albinos are especially vulnerable due to their bright white color. The inquisitive-looking example above top was photographed at the Sea Turtle Sanctuary at Isla Mujeres near Cancun, Mexico.
(images via: Thailand Voice and Homo Symbolicus)
Every year around 15,000 Green and Hawksbill turtles are hatched and housed at the Thai Military Sea Turtle Conservation Center on Khram Island near Pattaya, and every so often an albino turtle turns up. The hatchlings are kept at the Center until they’re about 6 months old, at which point their shells have hardened enough for them to have a better chance of survival in the sea.
Onya-Birri, the only albino koala in captivity, was born September 1, 1997 at the San Diego Zoo. He spent the first six months of his life the way all baby koalas do – inside his mother Banjeeri’s pouch. When he emerged for the first time, zoo staff were likely as surprised as Banjeeri though she has raised Onya-Birri just as she would a non-albinistic cub.
(image via: Life In The Fast Lane)
Onya-Birri, whose name means “ghost boy” in the language of Australia’s aboriginal peoples, had orange-tinged fur in common with normal gray koalas when he was very young.
Snakes on a plain? Albinism occurs in all snakes but it adds an extraordinary quality to cobras. Though they may lack pigment in their skin and eyes, potential owners should be aware that they’re just as poisonous as their more colorful cobra cousins.
(image via: Sharenator)
Since one albino cobra isn’t creepy enough for some, how about three? This toxic trio (shown at just 2 weeks of age) hatched at the National Zoological Gardens in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in June of 2005. Their albino mother laid a total of 20 eggs but only three hatched.
(image via: Life In The Fast Lane)
Hedgehogs are native to Europe, Asia, Africa and New Zealand (though not Australia), and they are extremely popular in the United Kingdom. The smaller African Pygmy Hedgehog subspecies make docile pets and albinism gives this already odd-looking creature an extra touch of weirdness.
(image via: Poisonfrogs)
Breeders who specialize in hedgehogs often offer a range of coloration that includes albinos, possibly because some potential owners may be averse to the glowing red eye effect that makes them look like miniature hogzillas. The cute critter above appears to be a “snowflake”.
Genetic mutations can result in lobsters being blue, yellow, orange, even two different colors (and sexes!) split right down the middle. But like the great white whale of the 19th century, the elusive white lobster is something extra special, mysterious and beyond just a novelty. Indeed, the odds of an all-white lobster occurring are estimated to be about 1 in 30 million! Odds or not, white lobsters have been caught before and will be caught again. The above specimen, “Lincoln the Lobster”, was trapped by Casco Bay lobsterman Bill Coppersmith in 1997.
(image via: Telegraph UK)
You know you’re thinking about it so let’s get it out: Will a white lobster still turn “lobster red” when plunked into the cookpot? According to Robert Bayer, director of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, Lincoln would end up a “sort of cooked white gray — not red.”
Bats exhibit albinism on occasion but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate the condition is more rare than in other mammals. The little guy above was rescued from a cat attack in early 2004 and it still looks freaked out, holding onto Pam Tully’s thumb for dear life! Tully, a carer at the Batreach Bat Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre located near Cairns in northern Australia, nicknamed the Little Northern Freetail bat Starshine.
(image via: i-Pets)
There’s only one known albino Leaf-nosed Spectacled Bat, and it lives at the Moscow Zoo’s Ekzotarium pavilion – as it should, being totally ekzotik. The bat was born in January of 2007 and has been named… wait for it… Angela!
Axolotls are neotenic – meaning they remain in their larval, gill-breathing form and usually do not metamorphose into lunged, land-living adult salamanders. Axolotls can assume various forms including Golden, Leucistic and Albino. The leucistic (white) form displays the dark eyes that many pet owners find more appealing than the blood red blinkers of the albino variety. Here’s a short video of a “dancing” axolotl complete with cute/annoying background music:
(image via: EPOCA)
Popular as pets due in large part to their “smiley” faces, axolotls can grow up to a foot (30cm) long and are endangered in their primary habitat: Lake Xochimilco in and around Mexico City.
Understanding the scientific explanation for albinism will do much to eliminate harmful and discriminatory attitudes that unfairly target albinos of any species. Live and learn – and appreciate nature for its variety and wonder!