Albinism is a condition that affects many different animals in the world. It may not be the easiest disorder to live with, but these creatures have done a great job of adapting to their situation.
Not every animal is born the same. While most come out the way you’d expect, some develop genetic abnormalities that make them look different from the rest of their kind. One example of this is albinism, which seems to affect a large proportion of the world’s animals. This condition typically impacts the appearance of skin, fur, and eyes as a result of melanin production. It’s not necessarily common, but it’s easy to tell when an animal has it.
It can be quite a remarkable thing to see albinism in the world, although the disorder isn’t without its issues. Many animals who have it struggle to survive, particularly because of the effects of the sun. Without much melanin to protect from its harmful rays, they’re at a greater risk of developing things like cancer. Moreover, animals which rely on their appearance to camouflage themselves struggle to blend in when they’re white all over, making them more susceptible to predators.
Of course, while albinism can be problematic, it’s amazing seeing what these animals look like when they have it.
The albino lobster
Albinism often puts animals in harm's way, but not this time. After being caught by a fisherman, it looked like one lobster was destined to become someone’s dinner. However, it’s unusual appearance prompted it to instead be sent to a Canadian aquarium where experts were able to look after it.
Apparently, the odds of finding an albino lobster are one in a million, so this fisherman certainly had a lucky day. If the lobster had ended up on someone’s plate, it seems it wouldn’t have looked any different. The lack of melanin meant it wouldn’t have turned red after boiling.
The golden-white zebra
We’re so used to zebras being black and white that we’re not sure what to make of one which is instead white and gold. It seems that neither are the experts because they know very little when it comes to albinism in these animals.
The condition is so rare that people haven’t really been able to study its impacts. However, the creatures appear capable of surviving in the wild, as evidenced by one Zebra that was spotted in Kenya. Not only did it appear to be thriving, but it also seemed to be accepted by the rest of its kind.
The albino barking deer
There are several variations of deer in the world, and it seems they’re all capable of developing albinism. The barking deer is one such example, with its white coat a world away from its usual brown coloring.
Apparently, while it looks incredibly different from its relatives, the albino barking deer is no different from the rest of its species. The creatures still act the same, right down to the bark they emit when trying to scare off other animals. Of course, they probably have to make this sound more often because their white fur stands out so much from their surroundings.
The white moose
The white moose is another albino animal that is rare to spot, although there’s a chance that their numbers could be growing. People often feel inclined to spare the white creatures if they see them, preferring instead to hunt their darker relatives.
It seems that humans have an affinity for albino animals and can’t bear to bring them any harm. With the white moose being spared so frequently by hunters, it’s possible we’ll start seeing more of them in the future. However, given how dangerous albinism can be for these creatures, is it a good idea for them to be thriving?
The albino gorilla
Visitors to the Barcelona Zoo spent years pining over Snowflake the albino gorilla. This creature, which is perhaps one of the most famous examples of an albino animal, was beloved by thousands before he passed away. Encountering creatures with this condition is so uncommon that people flocked to the zoo to see one up close.
Unfortunately, his albinism is what proved to be his downfall. The gorilla developed skin cancer due to his lack of melanin, and he eventually succumbed to the disease. This tragedy upset many, but it just shows how devastating albinism can be for the animals who have it.
The albino ferret
Ferrets might seem like an unconventional choice of pet, but they appear to be growing in popularity. Of course, there aren’t many people out there who can claim to have an albino ferret as their loyal companion. Anyone who does best take good care of their pet, especially when it comes to the animal’s eyes.
It seems that ferrets don’t have the best eyesight anyway, but it’s even worse when they have albinism. Again, that’s related to the lack of melanin in their bodies. It’s what turns their eyes red, and makes them susceptible to permanent damage, including potential blindness.
The white gentoo penguin
There’s a lot to love about gentoo penguins. For instance, these are one of the only animals we know about that has their own special way of proposing. Isn’t that the cutest? Once again, this species has examples of albinism, and it’s even more problematic than you might think.
While a white gentoo penguin may have no issue blending into the snow, it’s a different case entirely once they’re in the water. While penguins usually rely on countershading to protect them from predators in the water, the albino creatures don’t have that ability. As a result, they’re easy for other animals to see.
The albino koala
While we know that albino animals aren’t common, few seem to be as rare as the koala. Only a handful of these have ever been seen and examined by scientists which is perhaps why not much is known about them. However, there have been several notable examples of these exclusive animals, including San Diego Zoo’s Onya-Birri.
The creature was a little miracle because he was born in captivity, although people were initially oblivious to his genetic disorder. That’s because he spent the first six months of his life in his mother’s pouch. His white fur wasn’t discovered until he emerged later.
The white kookaburra
Kookaburras are an interesting species. These birds are famed for the sounds they make, which is very reminiscent of laughing. They produce these noises to establish their territory and presumably scare off predators. Not that these creatures really have much to worry about.
After all, they’ve been able to thrive in Australia where all manner of dangerous creatures live. They’ve even developed an ability to eat snakes as big as three feet - talk about impressive! As far as we know, the albino kookaburras are no different to the rest of their kind, apart from the obvious changes in their appearance.
The albino squirrel
We’ve seen red squirrels. We’ve seen gray squirrels. In fact, we’ve even seen black squirrels. However, the elusive albino squirrel is one that we’ve yet to cross paths with. It seems we might need to make a trip to Illinois where these creatures are apparently most popular.
Stories of them go back more than a century, and they’re still celebrated today. Squirrels, in general, are apparently so beloved there that one town allows them to have the right of way on the street! People can even get fined for doing anything to upset the creatures, whether they have albinism or not.
The spirit bears
You might think by looking at this picture that the animal is just your average polar bear. However, there’s a difference between this species and their albino relatives. Well, technically they’re not albino, because their eyes and skin are still pigmented. It’s only their fur which is white instead of black, and apparently, that’s because of a recessive mutation in one gene.
Their unusual appearance has led to the creatures being known as spirit bears, and you can expect to find quite a lot of them in British Columbia. There are reportedly as many as 1,000 living in the area right now.
The albino competing rats
When it comes to albino animals, rats are probably the best example of the disorder at work. These creatures have been used numerous times for scientific research, which is why they’re now referred to as laboratory rats. Although they might not be utilized as much as mice nowadays, they’ve still served a great purpose over the years.
Most instances of albinism in these animals are found in labs as opposed to the wild because they’re specifically bred by scientists. However, it’s likely still possible to encounter a white version of these creatures away from the laboratory; it just isn’t common.
The white deer
As we said, there are several varieties of deer, and each one seems to have its own form of albinism. Of course, these animals are another instance where the creatures aren't true albinos because their eyes still contain pigment. While their fur might be white and therefore abnormal, they still have some melanin in their bodies.
If you want to see these deer for yourself, you’ll have to visit New York’s Seneca Army Depot. That’s where the animals were first discovered after getting trapped in a fence. Over time, they’ve reproduced and increased their numbers, making them somewhat common in the area.
The albino alligator
Alligators can be terrifying creatures to encounter, although they’re admittedly not as violent as crocodiles. However, while these massive reptiles might be feared by many, their albino forms aren’t quite as intimidating. The lack of melanin in their bodies means they have poor eyesight, so they can’t get around as easily as the rest of their kind.
While they might still be capable of causing significant harm, they have to be able to find you first. This poor eyesight, as well as the inability to blend into their surroundings, is the reason why most albino alligators are now in captivity.
The white kangaroo
We know kangaroos as being jumpy animals which are capable of putting up a fight. However, the last time we checked, these creatures were brown, not white. Of course, this is an example of albinism in kangaroos, something that’s exceptionally rare.
Typically, only one in every 50,000 to 100,000 animals has the disorder, so you’re unlikely to encounter one while exploring The Outback. Of course, if you do want to see one for yourself, you’ll need to visit a zoo in Skopje, Macedonia. Several of them live there, with the youngest being born as recently as last year.
The leucistic peacock
While albinism is usually the explanation for why animals look different than usual, it’s not always the reason. For instance, some creatures are leucistic rather than albino, which means that only part of the pigment in their body is lost. These animals typically differ in how white they are, with some giving off the appearance of albinism.
However, you can always tell when a creature is leucistic by the look of their eyes. If there’s pigment in them, then they’re not true albinos. The peacock is an excellent example of this. While its body might be completely white, its eyes are normal.
The albino wallaby
Wallabies are similar to kangaroos, so it makes sense that these creatures can also be born with albinism. Although they’re smaller than their marsupial relatives, they still pack quite a punch. If you got on the wrong side of one, they wouldn’t be afraid to take you out.
Of course, albino wallabies are probably more concerned about their own survival than getting in a fight with a human. That white fur can’t make it easy to live under the Australian sun. Not only does it put their health at risk, but it also puts a target on their back for predators.
The white raven
The raven is often used as a symbol for all things creepy and ominous because of its appearance. Those black feathers help them blend in perfectly with dark landscapes, and their caws are enough to give anyone a heart attack. However, these creatures become a lot less intimidating when you see them in white.
While their nature might not be any different, they no longer look like something straight out of a horror film. Perhaps that’s for the best. At least when these animals are leucistic, they don’t give us nightmares. If only all ravens were white instead of black.
The albino dolphin
While albinism usually turns an animal white, in the case of dolphins, it actually makes them pink. That’s because it’s the color of the animal’s blood vessels you’re seeing, rather than their usual gray shade. It’s amazing to see, and it makes the animal look even more majestic than normal.
The most famous example of an albino dolphin is Pinky from Louisiana who’s captured people’s attention for over a decade. The creature makes its home in Lake Calcasieu and has done well to survive for so long. After all, the problems that plague albino animals aren’t easy to live with in the wild.
The white giraffe
In areas where most of the landscape is sprawling and open, the last thing you want is to stand out from the crowd. There’s nowhere to hide if you get spotted, putting you at significant risk from predators. That’s probably something that white giraffes have had to grow accustomed to given their bright appearance.
These leucistic animals don’t mix into their surroundings like the rest of their kind, meaning they have to be aware of potential predators at all times. The last thing these animals want is something else to put their lives at risk. They’re already considered a vulnerable species.
The albino crested porcupine
Porcupines might look small, but they should never be underestimated. They’re more than capable of defending themselves against predators thanks to their quills. When these animals feel they’re under attack, they raise their quills and drive them into their foe, a move that typically works out in their favor.
Unfortunately, albino porcupines have the hard task of locating where their predator is first before they can fight back. The difficulties they have with their eyesight means this is sometimes challenging, and that can make all the difference over whether they survive or not. At least there aren’t many of them out there.
The snow-white kiwi
White kiwis are hard to come by, which is why Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre takes such good care of the one they have. Manukura, as she was named, was born there in 2011, and has been a beloved addition to New Zealand ever since.
She’s apparently one of three snow-white birds that were hatched here, although the other kiwis were released into a reserve in 2013. Despite their white appearance, the birds aren’t albino; they’re just a very rare breed of kiwi. Whether or not there are plans to try and breed more of these unique creatures is currently unknown.
The albino ball python
Albino or not, we’re pretty hesitant around any kind of snake. Although not all are lethal, plenty of them are capable of causing harm. Pythons, in particular, can pose a danger because they’re constrictor snakes. They prefer to squeeze the life out of their prey before eating it, something we’d much rather avoid happening to us.
Of course, there are plenty of people who appreciate these animals and even keep them as pets. The albino variety is especially popular, and unlike other species, they’re not too uncommon. Breeders are constantly hatching new ball pythons and selling them on to excited buyers.
The white humpback whale
Back in 1991, people got their first glimpse of a white humpback whale. It was an astounding sight and one that Australian residents have been greeted to at least once a year ever since. Nicknamed Migaloo, it’s unclear if this animal is an example of albinism in the wild, or if he’s just leucistic.
Either way, his presence is something worth celebrating, and he’s not the only one of his kind. More white humpback whales have been spotted recently, and the belief is that they were fathered by Migaloo. However, whether that’s true or not is still up for debate.
The leucistic cardinal
You can generally tell a cardinal from a mile away because of their bright red coloring. However, when the bird is leucistic, they’re not so easy to identify. That’s because they’re no longer as vibrant, with most of their feathers white instead of red.
While these creatures still have splashes of color to them, it’s no longer as eye-catching. During the winter, these birds have no trouble blending into the snow, so it’s a good thing they don’t hibernate. While the rest of their kind clearly stand out against the white backdrop, they have no problem fading into the background.
The leucistic oystercatcher
While most people are accustomed to seeing oystercatchers with primarily dark feathers, that isn’t always the case. Birds of this species have been spotted with leucism, with some displaying no color at all. These animals are incredibly rare, and it’s more likely you’ll see one that’s speckled with color rather than being utterly devoid of it.
However, no matter what kind you see, there’s no reason to expect them to behave any differently. These American wonders still reside in salt marshes and barrier beaches, and they continue to feed on shellfish. Their feathers are the only significant change, just like most leucistic animals.
The albino hedgehog
Apparently, one in every 10,000 hedgehogs is albino, so the chances of meeting one in the wild aren’t that great. Of course, if you do encounter one, it probably won’t be easy to miss it. These bright creatures definitely stand out, especially at night where they practically glow in the dark.
The animals might be small, but there’s no mistaking a little ball of white walking around your backyard. Luckily, while these creatures stand out, they’re more camouflaged from predators than it seems. After all, they spend so much time in the dirt that it darkens their white exterior.
The albino raccoon
Compared to some of the other animals on this list, raccoons don’t have the longest lifespan. These creatures only typically survive for two to three years in the wild, a surprisingly short space of time. Given the struggles usually faced by albino animals, you probably wouldn’t think a raccoon with albinism would last as long as this.
However, these creatures can surprise you sometimes. In 2015, one such animal was found and brought to a wildlife center in Indiana, and it wasn’t young by any means. The animal had defied expectations and managed to last for several years in the wild.
The albino snail
Given that snails aren’t the fastest creatures on the planet, camouflage is essential to their survival. It helps them slowly move from A to B without being picked off by a bird en route. Unfortunately, the snails which are born with albinism don’t have the fortune of blending in with their surroundings.
While their shells might look the same, the gastropods themselves are bright in color and easy to distinguish on the ground. While they can still use their shells to hide from oncoming attacks, these defenses are only so strong. Eventually, a predator will manage to break through them.
The white lion
Looking at these two lions, it’s pretty clear where the differences lie. One is brown while the other is white. One has more olive tinted eyes while the other has irises which are a much lighter shade of blue. It’s easy to tell these two apart, but that’s about where the differences end.
We’re pretty sure that both of these animals could hold their own in a fight, and neither would have a problem taking down a human. Of course, there’s something about the white lion - or lioness in this case - that seems just a tad more striking and majestic.
The albino skunk
Of all the albino and leucistic animals on this list, the skunk is probably the one we’d be most hesitant to encounter. After all, without its trademark black and white stripes, it’s harder to tell that this animal is actually a skunk. You might not make the realization until it’s too late, and you're choking on their noxious smell.
Yes, even though these creatures look different from other skunks, their stink glands haven’t been affected. They’re able to give off the most pungent smells you can imagine, and these animals feel no guilt over it. That’s just natural for them.
The albino turtle
It’s believed that out of several hundred thousand eggs, only one results in an albino turtle. That’s probably a good thing given that several of the few albino turtles we know about were born with deformities. This year alone, a couple of these creatures have hit the news thanks to their abnormalities.
At the start of 2019, there were reports of an albino turtle who’s heart was outside of its body. Then, a few months later, there was the revelation of another which had been born with two heads! Is this just a coincidence, or is there something going on with albino turtles?
The albino iguana
As we’ve seen, while most albino creatures are white, that isn’t always the way. Albino dolphins are pink in color, while ball pythons are predominantly yellow. The latter seems to be a recurring thing with reptiles because iguanas with albinism also have a similar color scheme.
They tend to develop yellow markings as they age, although these can also be pink or orange too. Each albino iguana seems to be different, and some even end up turning completely yellow by the time they reach adulthood. Basically, you never quite know what you’re going to get when it comes to these creatures.
The albino hummingbird
When it comes to hummingbirds, albinism is a little more common than some animals. According to research by the Missouri Department of Conservation, around one in 1,764 birds is born with the disorder. While that’s still not hugely common, it means there are far more albino hummingbirds than lobsters, kangaroos, and hedgehogs, for instance.
Unfortunately for these birds, that means they don’t get the shiny feathers that this species is known for. While the rest of their kind attract attention through their colorful appearance, the albino hummingbird is entirely white and unremarkable. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
The white bison
A bit like the spirit bears, the white bison are considered a special animal. They’re viewed as sacred by various Native America religions, and therefore, they're often featured in prayers and rituals. When it comes to these creatures, their reason for being white differs from one individual to another.
While some might be albino, others could be leucistic. In some cases, it’s neither of these, and the animal actually has a gene that causes them to change color over time. They’re born white and remain that way for several years, but then their fur becomes brown once they grow up.
The albino screech owl
If it wasn’t for those wide eyes, we might not have recognized this bird as being the screech owl. Of course, even those look different from what we’re used to. After all, they don’t have the distinct yellow irises that are common to these birds. Instead, their eyes are just massive black holes with a pink rim.
Those enormous pupils are difficult to miss, given the rest of the owl is completely white. Their feathers are so devoid of color that people often mistake albino screech owls for snowy owls, although there are some clear differences between these two species.