Albinism occurs in all mammals, including humans, and even non-mammals. Though rare in animals, albino animals have been located everywhere from the birds in the sky, fish in the sea, and reptiles in the bush.
Albino animals may either partially or fully lack of pigmentation, giving them a unique skin tone from their peers. Because of their rarity, they suffer from the challenges of surviving on their own and becoming targets of predators.
The lack of pigmentation happens when the animal inherits one or more mutated genes from its parents, which end up interfering with the production of melanin by their bodies. Melanin is responsible for determining the color of eyes, skin and fur.
Its absence results in characteristic pink or red eyes. Melanin production occurs within specialized cells called melanocytes, which although present in albino animals are not fully functional.
But not all white animals are albino as some animals have naturally light skin. Other animals could be suffering from other conditions like Isabellinism and Leucism. To differentiate light skinned-animals from albino animals is pink or red eyes. A lack of pigmentation in the iris allows the blood vessels in the retina to be seen.
Color enables the animals to hunt or be hunted (and albinos can be easily seen and poached or attacked by a pack). An online photo gallery of albino animals said seeing a purely white animal is a surreal experience as some creatures born without color can be the most stunning of all.
These rare albino animals, with white fur and pink eyes, are often hard to spot in nature, so if you’re lucky enough to see one, be sure the savor the opportunity. Rare all-white species and Leucistic creatures are the same as any other animals but with a coloration that makes them (sometimes literally) one in a million.
Approximately 300 species across North America have albino members. There have been sightings of albino snakes, raccoons, frogs and deer. It is believed that for every 10,000 mammals born, just one will be albino, showing how rare the condition really is.
This September, Iceberg, the albino killer whale was spotted in the Pacific Ocean around eastern Russia. Scientists were excited because Iceberg had not been seen since 2012, and there was some worry that something had happened to him. But Iceberg seems to being doing well, swimming with his pod of regular-looking black and white killer whales. Iceberg has even more company—whale watchers have spotted a few more albino whales in the area, probably relatives of Iceberg.
An even bigger white whale lives off the coast of Australia. Migaloo is a humpback whale and maybe one of only 2-3 albino humpbacks in the world. He is the most famous. Migaloo is spotted regularly when he makes his yearly trek from Antarctica to Australia and even has a website about him.
Louisiana’s famous bottlenose dolphin may not seem like an albino because she’s completely pink. The well-named Pinky is thought to have a bubblegum color because her albino skin lets the reddish pink of her blubber show through. Pinky seems healthy though and has been spotted swimming in Calcasieu Lake for 10 years since she was a baby pink dolphin.
Snowflake, the only known albino gorilla, lived in the Barcelona Zoo in Spain for nearly 40 years. He had books written about him and a movie made about his life. When Snowflake became ill in 2003, thousands of people lined up at the zoo to visit him one last time before he died. Snowflake had several children and grandchildren; none of them are albinos, but they may carry the gene that causes it.
The giant snails of New Zealand have shells the size of a person’s fist and even longer bodies. They live on land and, unlike most snails, they eat meat, mostly worms. Giant carnivorous snails are scary enough but seeing one that is eerily white is something else. That is what two hikers discovered in 2011 when they were walking through the forests of New Zealand’s South Island.
The albino snail was thought to be 10 years old. Snail researchers went out to try and locate the rare creature but have not had any luck. Fortunately, the hikers took pictures, proving that it was not a ghost snail.
By Rose de la Cruz