Albinism is caused by a gene mutation that hinders or completely obstructs melanin production. The condition is incredibly rare in animals, affecting approximately 1 in 10,000.
That lack of melanin essentially prevents an animal's fur, scales, feathers, skin, eyes, and even claws from developing any color. Animals can be partially albino, often appearing all white but having pale blue-gray eyes, or pure albino, with distinct pink-red coloring from the blood vessels under the skin.
It's easy to assume that white peacocks are albinos, but that is not necessarily the case. Fascinatingly, peacocks can experience leucism, a condition that's similar to albinism but distinctly different.
Leucism is a partial loss of pigmentation, whereas albinism is a complete lack of melanin. Animals with leucism may be completely white, but more commonly have patches of white. Either way, an all-white peacock is quite a sight to behold!
All species of snakes can be albino. Depending on the species, though, snakes with albinism can look vastly different from one another. Solid-colored snakes will appear to be truly all-white, while others that have unique striping or spots on their skin, such as pythons or king snakes, can appear to be both white and pale yellow. This is actually a highly desirable feature in certain snake species, such as ball pythons.
When you think about penguins, an image of a bird with naturally-given formal attire likely comes to mind. The penguin's distinct black and white coloring makes it appear as if they're wearing tuxedos.
Birds of a feather do typically flock together, but that's not the case for albino penguins. Other birds in the flock would almost certainly reject an albino penguin, leaving them little chance of surviving in the wild. Fortunately, they're exceedingly rare.
Much like penguins, it's hard to even imagine a zebra that isn't black and white. Yet, that's exactly what albino zebras look like: almost blond, as if they've been rolling around in the dust. According to National Geographic, albino zebras are incredibly rare. So rare, in fact, that not one has ever been confirmed in the wild. The only albino zebras ever photographed have been in captivity, primarily in sanctuaries in Africa.
Any dog species can be affected by albinism. Just about any dog species can be born all-white as well, making it tricky to distinguish between albino dogs and those who are simply all white.
If you're uncertain, check their eyes. In albino dogs, even blood vessels lack pigmentation, meaning their eyes have no color and appear pink. Dogs that have partial albinism or that simply have a white coat may have pale blue eyes.
An albino porcupine may seem peculiar on its own, but a baby albino porcupine is an even more curious sight to behold. When porcupines are born, their protective quills are soft. They typically harden several days after birth, although the timeframe can vary among species. Scientists estimate that just 1 in 10,000 porcupines is albino.
Like in porcupines, albinism in tigers is extremely rare. While there are many white tigers in the world that people believe are albinos, very few actually are.
The sad fact is that most white tigers have actually been inbred to purposely create that distinct bleached look. In reality, truly albino tigers have almost no chance of survival in the wild. Without their distinctive orange and black stripes, they're not camouflaged.
Whereas many other albino animal species can't survive in the wild, a group of albino wallabies is defying the odds. A population of over 200 albino Bennett's wallabies is thriving on Bruny Island in Tasmania — despite being prone to skin cancer and substantial eye problems. The albino mammals, which look similar to kangaroos but are considerably smaller, thrive on Bruny Island because there are no predators.
Ankole-Watusi bulls, also known as Ankole Longhorns, originated in central Africa and were traditionally considered sacred among tribes. Looking at their giant horns that can reach spans of eight feet, it's easy to see why. Albino Ankole-Watusi bulls, as rare as they are, are solid white with reddish eyes. They appear almost mythical — and somehow even tougher.
Albino alligators are considered exceptionally beautiful because of their rareness. That beauty comes with a dark side, however.
Much like other predators such as tigers, albino alligators have no natural camouflage to protect themselves in the wild. They're extremely vulnerable, becoming the hunted rather than the hunters. Albino alligators' skin is also exceptionally sensitive to sunlight, prone to severe burning. Because of this, these animals can live considerably longer in captivity.
Get your paws on the latest animal news and information