Nature

Extremely Rare White-as-Snow and Albino Animals

By Robin Mei - November 06, 2016
Credits: Image: Caters News

Bears

Albinism is a rare genetic disorder which causes skin, hair or eyes to have little or no color at all. Bears are a just one species with many shades of white with a blurry and perhaps a bit confusing distinction between all of them.

For example, there is a very rare type of black bear that has white or bright creamy fur and almost white claws, but their eyes and nose pads are dark. A true albino bear’s complete lack of pigment makes their eyes, nose and paws pink while their fur and claws are white as snow.

Source: What is a Spirit Bear?

Lionesses

Credits: Image: Chad Cocking / Caters

Despite the widespread belief that male lions are the best hunters, the truth it is the lionesses who do the majority (although not all) of the hunting and gathering for the pride.

One of the two lionesses in this photo is all white, which means that she is missing the melanin pigment in her body. But, that doesn’t make her any less dangerous than the other. In fact, there is no scientific proof that white lions and lionesses are genetically inferior to their “normal” relatives.

Source: White Lions: The Myth and Majesty

Moose

Credits: Image: Tommy Pedersen / AP

This image shows us one of the white moose that have been spotted in Sweden and Norway. These unusual animals are either albino or piebald (the presence of small dark patches of fur) and the color of their eyes. Albinism in animals, just like in humans, always results in extraordinarily light or pinkish eyes.

Regardless of whether they are the true albinos or not, these white moose always attract attention wherever they show up!

Source: Why This Swedish Moose Is Entirely White

Humpback Whales

Credits: Image: Caters News

White humpback whales are one of the planet’s rarest of unnaturally white animals The most famous of these is Migaloo.

Migaloo was first sighted in 1991 near Byron Bay in southeastern Australia. Soon he was given his Aboriginal name which translates to a perfect description of him — ‘white fellow’.

Despite his skin color, Migaloo is not a true albino. His eyes are dark, meaning he is hyper-pigmented or leucistic (meaning he still has traces of pigment in his skin).

Source: Everything you need to know about Migaloo

Lions

The high priests of many South African tribes are still telling stories from ancient times about while lions who were sent from above as messengers from God.

Are white lions a different species of lions, or are they all just albino animals? The answer to both questions is no, and no. White lions are not different species, nor are they all albinos. If a lion has black ‘eyeliner’ around its eyes and other dark features, that means it’s leucistic. An albino lion lacks pigment completely.

Crocodiles

Both albino and leucistic alligators and crocodiles (like the one pictured above) suffer the same problem when it comes to surviving in the wild, and that is staying hidden from their prey as they hunt for food.

Because of this, seeing one outside of captivity is extremely rare. Direct exposure to sunlight is also harmful to them, so facilities like the Knoxville Zoo build specially shaded enclosures with heat lamps that allow these reptiles to stay warm while avoiding the risk of getting sunburned.

Source: Stunning Albino and Leucistic Animals: Living in the Wild vs. Captivity

Peacocks

Credits: Image: Caters News

There are several types of these magnificent birds and they are all (peacocks particularly) vibrant in color. All but the white ones, that is.

Like other species, pure white peacocks are not necessarily albinos. If their eyes are blue they are probably leucistic Indian peacocks. There are also other varieties with dominant white color, but with hues of blue, green and even black. Technically these example wouldn’t fall under the albino category.

Source: White Peacock Bird Information

Hummingbirds

Credits: Image: Caters News

According to ornithologists, about one in every 2,000 birds has albinism or another similar disorder which makes their feathers all white. The bird in this photo is a very rare example of an albino hummingbird.

Unlike his other “normal” cousins, this little fellow is all white and has the reddish eyes and very bright beak of a true albino. Unfortunately, many albino birds are outcasts from their social groups and rarely find a mate.

Source: White and Albino Hummingbirds

Giraffes

Just like any other animal, ghostly white giraffes are very rare but not impossible. A couple of years ago these two giraffes, a mother giraffe and her calf, were spotted on a reserve in Kenya.

This giraffe looks almost albino, but scientists have confirmed that both she and her calf actually suffer from leucism, a condition which results in partial loss of pigmentation. Even though this giraffe’s skin is all white, it turns out that she and her offspring have dark eyes.

Source: Two Rare White Giraffes Filmed in Kenya

Hedgehogs

Credits: Image: Tomoe Ikeda / Caters News

A hairdresser from Japan, Tomoe Ikeda, has three beautiful hedgehogs, two of which are pure albinos. Their names are Shirikati, Hanpen and Ganmo. Shirikati and Hanpen are the albinos, and they are the mother and the son. The third, Ganmo, is a regular male hedgehog. Regardless, the three of them make a lovely family.

Ikeda has dedicated her Instagram page to these three beautiful hedgehogs, but the rare albinos are the real stars of the show (sorry, Ganmo).

Source: Adorable albino hedgehog enjoys tummy rub

Squirrels

Credits: Image: Caters News

Squirrels can be affected by a lack of melanin, although it is rare. It is estimated that only one in 100,000 is born with this genetic disorder. Albino squirrels are unique not only for their snow-white fur but also for their striking red eyes.

Most albino mammals have poor eyesight as a result of their melanin deficiency, which plays an important role in the development of normal eye functions. The lack of melanin in a squirrel’s eyes does make them red, but their vision is not affected by it.

Source: Rare white squirrel ‘nonchalant’ about being spotted

Koalas

Albino koalas are so rare that only a handful have ever been documented, and only in captivity. Onya-Birri, which means “ghost boy” in the Aborigine language, was born in 1997 at the San Diego Zoo.

When he finally emerged from his mother’s pouch everyone was surprised to see that this baby was colorless since his parents were “normal” koalas. It turned out that one of them carried the albinism gene responsible for Onya-Birri’s ghostly appearance.

Source: An albino koala adds color to San Diego Zoo

Raccoons

Credits: Image: Caters News

One of the most practical ways for animals to avoid dangerous encounters is to mimic their surroundings as a way to camouflage themselves. Unfortunately, albino animals often stand out from their environment so much they can hardly manage to hide from their enemies.

Raccoons are just one such example. Records show that even if an albino raccoon gets lucky enough to reach adulthood, the odds for having a long life are minuscule at best

Source: Odds Are You’ll Get Hit By Lightning Before Seeing An Albino Raccoon

Gorillas

Credits: Image: Caters News

The only albino gorilla ever seen is Snowflake, the star attraction of the Barcelona Zoo for almost 40 years. This one-of-a-kind male gorilla was captured in 1966 in Equatorial Guinea and later transferred to the zoo where he spent the rest of his life.

Snowflake’s albinism made him famous around the globe, but it also brought him troubles. He had poor vision because his eyes were lacking pigment, and his skin was also very sensitive to the sun which consequently led to his death from skin cancer in 2003.

Source: Photos: Snowflake the Albino Gorilla

Zebras

The world’s most famous albino, or golden, zebra was named Zoe and lived in a private sanctuary for exotic animals in Kona, Hawaii. Even though Zoe’s pigmentation disorder was more than apparent, there are disagreements whether she was a true albino or not.

Many of her characteristics indicated that she was albino, like a significant reduction of pigment in her hair and eyes. She had pale brown stripes and therefore some scientists prefer to refer to Zoe as a golden, rather than a white (albino), zebra.

Source: Rare Tan-and-White Striped Zebra Dies at Hawaiian Ranch

Reindeer/Caribou

Credits: Image: Siv Poijo / Caters News

White reindeer are so rare that the Sami people of northern Europe consider them holy. They also believe the white reindeer bring good luck whenever they appear, and the one in this photo was seen in Mala, Sweden.

A Swedish teacher, Siv Poijo, recorded this rare sight of a white stag. Siv was returning to her cottage when she noticed this amazing animal trying to cross the road. Albino reindeer can be found in Norway, Sweden and Finland, but there are also records of sightings in the United States too.

Source: Rare Albino Reindeer Spotted Near Road in Sweden

Porcupines

The African crested porcupine’s natural habitat is the North African savanna, but they can also be found in Italy, too. These funny-looking creatures are an exciting sight to see, but the albino ones really bring the game to a whole new level.

White African crested porcupines are a bit more vulnerable than their cousins and due to their lack of pigment, these all-white porcupines are much easier to spot by predators. They still have their sharp quills and a smelly odor to hel defend themselves.

Source: Crested Porcupine – Rattle Tail Rodent of Africa

Dogs

The first-ever recorded mutation of the gene responsible for albinism in the Doberman dog breed was in 1976. That was the year when Sheba, the very first albino Doberman, was born. It is believed that all white Doberman s today are, in fact, her descendants, but that doesn’t necessarily make them all albinos.

Like many other genuine or partial albino animals, Dobermans often experience photosensitivity and other eyesight problems which can cause additional behavioral issues, such as aggressiveness and fear biting.

Source: The 5 Doberman Colors And The One To Avoid

Turtles

Both green and hawksbill sea turtles are threatened species in Thailand, so the Thai Navy’s Sea Turtle Conservation Center does their best to ensure their survival. 15,000 newborn turtles are collected yearly and taken care until they ge strong enough to be released back into the sea.

In 2009, a very rare sight was recorded in one of the tanks where baby turtles are kept before they are ready for life at sea: a single albino turtle swimming in a pond packed with other green turtles.

Source: Threatened sea turtles have Thai navy for protection

Elephants

Credits: Image: Caters News

Albino elephants are often called white elephants, which can easily lead to the misconception that they are their own category of elephant. These light-colored elephants are either albino or leucistic animals, although there are differences between the Asian and African species of elephant when it comes to their albinism.

Albinism is more common in Asian elephants than in their much larger African relatives. Albino African elephants suffer more. The sun’s ray of sub-Saharan Africa can cause blindness and various skin problems in albino elephants, and their life expectancy is not very long.

Source: An Albino Elephant On Kapama Game Reserve, By Adine Roode

The Salt and Pepper Bears

In a zoo, albino animals are not only safe, but they are often the absolute favorites of many visitors. This photo shows two baby bears who were born in a Norwegian zoo. One of them looks exactly like a little bear should look like, while the other one is albino.

Together they are Salt and Pepper, a pair which has attracted lots of attention since they were first presented to the public back in 2009.

Source: Albino bear charms Polar Zoo crowds

Seals

Credits: Image: Caters News

Various factors can influence and directly or indirectly cause all kinds of dissimilarities among members of the same species, but none of them is a question of choice.

Almost all animals can be affected by albinism and man of them get rejected by their families because of it, especially seals. No matter how cute we find albino seals to be, their relatives seem to disagree and often cast them away from the community.

Source: Interesting Facts About Albino Animals That May Surprise You

Alligators

Credits: Image: Caters News

It turns out the survival of albino predators is just as challenging as the prey they have their red eyes on for their din. Carnivores such as alligatorsuse their ability to camouflage themselves as an advantage when they hunt.

If their natural camouflage is jeopardized due to albinism and similar genetic disorders, their prey can easily spot them and flee before they even get the chance to attack.

Source: Cute But Challenged: The Difficult Life Of Albino Animals

Omo the Giraffe

Credits: Image: Caters News

A major factor in the life of wild albino and unnaturally white animals is their inability to not stand out in their all-natural habitats. This giraffe is known by the name of Omo and lives in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park. This beautiful Masai giraffe calf doesn’t have albinism.

Omo is another sufferer of leucism, so her soft tissue cells still produce some level of melanin, which for her means her eyes are still dark in color and her fur still has faded brown markings.

Source: Extremely Rare White Giraffe Spotted—What Would You Name Her?

Deer

Credits: Image: Caters News

White deer with a complete lack of pigment are real albinos. They have remarkably white coats, red eyes and pink noses, while those with white coats whose eyes and noses are dark can still be referred to as white deer, but not albinos. Got that?

Plus, there are many variations between the two, so the labeling is far more challenging than one might think. True albino deer are extremely rare, and records show that only one in 20,000 deer is born an albino.

Source: White Deer Q&A

Frogs

Albinism in frogs is not as rare as in other species, but that doesn’t mean that ghostly white frogs are any less impressive than the rest of the pigmentation-free animals. Moreover, they are a fascinating sight both in their natural surroundings or in a pet tank.

Some albino frogs may appear to be more pinkish than white because of the blood vessels that run through the skin with no pigment at all. Their eyes are usually red and  very sensitive to light.

Source: Are Albino Frogs Safe as Pets?

Burmese Pythons

Credits: Image: Miroslav Vajdić

Native to the tropic regions of southern and southeastern Asia, the Burmese python is generally considered to be a docile species of snake when it comes to humans, one reason for its popularity among pet owners. The albino Burmese is now in high demand for many of these hobbyists.

Unfortunately, the general care for an albino python is often too much for their owners. This results in these snakes, which can reach six meters (over 19 feet) in length, being released into the wild across North America.

Source: Albino Burmese Python

Buffalo

Albino buffalo  are remarkably rare, but the National Buffalo Museum in North Dakota is a safe haven for a few of them. Their first albino buffalo was known as White Cloud. She was born in 1996 and spent 19 years living among the rest of the museum’s buffalo.

White Cloud gave birth to 11 calves in total during her time in the museum’s herd. Only one of them, born in 2007, was albino too.

Source: Stunning rare albino animals

Kangaroos

Albino kangaroos are quite rare, especially in the wild. Most of them are born or live in captivity, but when one gets spotted in Australia’s bushland the news breaks out quickly.

Like other albino species, kangaroos without normal pigmentation have a genetic predisposition both for hearing and eyesight problems, which makes them an easy target for predators. Their lifespan is often a short one, which is why they are usually relocated from their natural surroundings into a protected one.

Source: 10 Amazing Albino Animals

Penguins

All white penguins are far from being ordinary. Only one in a million hatches from an egg as an albino, but they rarely live long enough to reach adulthood and sexual maturity needed for reproduction.

The most famous albino penguin was born at the Bristol Zoo in 2002 and was named Snowdrop. For two years, this unusual bird lived happily among its clutch-mates. In August 2004 the zoo’s star attraction died even though he never showed any sign of illness.

Source: Zoo’s rare albino penguin is dead

Cows

Although completely white cows are fairly common, the true albino variety are just as rare as in any other animal species. If a calf is born with no pigment at all, that means not only its fur will be snow white, but its skin will be bright pink, and its eyes will be reddish.  

In May 2018, a rare birth of an albino cow was recorded in Spring Valley, Wisconsin. The little one immediately captured the hearts of area farmers and the public.

Source: Albino cow steals hearts of Wisconsin farmers

Crayfish

Even though albino crayfish are not entirely unheard of, most albino specimens are actually tank-bred. The white specter crayfish originate from the Southeastern United States and look very similar to electric blue crayfish.

The species is also known as vanilla crawfish or vanilla lobsters (even though there’s no such thing as a freshwater lobster). These beautiful, omnivoreous creatures are usually kept as pets as they make fantastic centerpieces in an aquarium.

Source: White Specter Crayfish (Procambarus Clarkii)

Northern Cardinals

Albinism in birds is not always easy to notice — there are many completely white bird species which are not albino, while there are also albino birds that still have some color left in their feathers.

Albino birds, same as other animal species, don’t have melanin, but their feathers can still hold some other pigment. For example, the albino Northern Cardinal can still be reddish because of the carotenoid pigment present in red and yellow feathers.

Source: How to Tell If a Bird Is Albino

Tapirs

Credits: Image: Luciano Candisani

The story of a ghostly white tapir had circulated among the people who live in the Atlantic rain forest areas of southeastern Brazil for quite a while before this rare animal was finally captured on camera in 2014.

As the largest Brazilian land mammal (even larger than a cougar), the usually brown-colored tapir is primarily found at night mainly in forests or their nearby grasslands. Albino tapirs are so rare that this one is the only albino tapir ever filmed.  

Source: Super-Rare Albino Tapir Photographed in Brazil

Tawny Frogmouth

Tawny frogmouths are Australian nocturnal birds that can be easily confused with owls but are actually related to owlet-nightjars. They can be seen all over the country, both in the rural and urban areas, except for dense rainforests or desert regions.

Tawny frogmouths usually have silver-grey or russet-red feathers, but if they lack pigmentation, their feathers will be almost snow white, and their eyes will be reddish as in most albino animals.

Source: Tawny Frogmouth

Tigers

For a long time, people have believed that white tigers are rare but separate species from the more common varieties, but that’s not really true. White tigers are Bengal tigers which lack melanin just like the rest of albino animals.

Albino tigers are born when two Bengal tigers which carry a recessive gene responsible for coat color are bred together. The chance for something like that to happen in the wild are incredibly rare, but zoos used to breed them on purpose, causing other genetic problems as a result.

Source: The Truth About White Tigers

Dolphins

Although it is naturally expected that all albino animals appear white, the young dolphin in this picture is actually pink even though he’s still considered to be albino. His name is (of course) Pinky, and he’s the only rosy dolphin ever recorded on camera.

The first tell-tale sign that Pinky is albino are his reddish eyes. His skin would probably be white if it weren’t so pale and transparent that the blood vessels show through it, turning its usual snowy hue into a bight pink color.  

Source: How Did Rare Pink Dolphin Get Its Color?

Crows

White crows are so unusual that many cultures regard them as bad omens or malicious creatures that come from “the other side.” That means they can be seen all over the world, but very rarely.  

Wherever “ordinary” crows live chances are a white one may show up one day too. If its feathers are white, its eyes red and feet and beak pale, that white crow is albino. If only its feathers are white, it suffers from a genetic defect called leucism.

Source: Albino bird: a white crow

Rhinoceroses

There are five types of rhinoceros, but the most unusual are black and white rhinos that actually appear grayer than what their name suggests. The white rhino, besides its odd appearance, is the planet’s second-largest mammal after the elephant.

The distinction between the two is actually in the shape of their lips due to their different diets: black rhinos have pointed upper lips, while white rhino lips are square shaped. If a rhino is pure white that means he or she is simply albino.

Source: White Rhinoceros

Snails

White snails or slugs, like the example you see here, can commonly be found in gardens and lawns across North America. True albino examples of snails are rarely sighted, but New Zealand has been home to at least two such cases in the past.

In 2011 hikers came across a giant, pure-white Powelliphanta snail, which at the time of its discovery was only the second confirmed sighting of an albino snail in the country in almost 23 years.

Source: Giant meat-eating ‘Milky Bar’ snail stuns hikers