Friday, March 22, 2013

ALBINO DEER ... Did you know they exist?

 Julep and Derby couldn't believe their little brown
westie eyes yesterday when we spotted an
albino deer in a field along the St. Michaels Road.
My first thought was ... why is that big
goat loose and standing next to that deer?
 Upon closer inspection it was a deer, much to my surprise!
So at my first stop I pulled out my iPhone
and did a quick search on 'albino deer'.  Low and behold
I was happy to know that I'm not losing my mind {or eye sight}.
 We learn something new each day.
We had no idea albino deer existed let alone on the eastern
shore of Maryland.  Of course, you never have
your camera when you need it but I did find
several photo's of albino deer for you
to see for yourself.
 Throughout history people have been fascinated by
 rare sightings of albino whitetail deer. 
In fact, these mystical ghosts of the woods have been 
the center of many ancient Native American legends
 and folklore.  Encounters with solid white deer were even
documented in journal entries by early European explorers
 in the big woods country of present day Wisconsin.
The natural intrigue with white deer can probably be best explained
by their unusual appearance that catches both the eye and our imagination.
 According to biologists, the recessive gene that
causes albinism in whitetail deer is very uncommon.

The chances of an albino deer being born
 are only 1 in 30,000.  In addition, the solid white coats of the deer
 make them more susceptible to attack from predators,
which dramatically decrease the overall survival 
rate of these special whitetails. 
With that being said, very few people will ever
 have the opportunity to catch a mere glimpse 
of these white ghosts. However, there is a unique place in
 Wisconsin called Boulder Junction that is home 
to an unbelievable number of wild albino deer.

Albino deer.  Every deer hunter has heard of one or
 at least thought about seeing one, but what’s 
the deal with albino white-tailed deer? Among the questions
 most often asked is “what causes some whitetail
 deer to be albinos?” Well, although albino deer a 
rare for the most part, albinism is not.

Albinism is a recessive trait found in many
 animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and even plants!
 Albino animals do not have the gene for normal 
coloration and do not produce the enzyme 
responsible for skin, hair, and tissue coloration. 
The result of this genetic oddity is the total absence of body pigment.

In addition to the lack of body pigment, the eyes of an 
albino are pink because blood vessels behind the
 lenses show through the unpigmented irises. 
As you can guess, albinism is not a great trait for an animal, 
either predator or prey, unless they live in area with constant snow cover.

Obviously, being totally white year-round makes 
concealment in most deer habitat difficult. 
To make matters worse, many albinos in general 
have poor eyesight. Perhaps that is why albino 
deer are rare: lack of camouflage increases 
deer predator attacks, poor eyesight, and a recessive,
 rare gene.  A gene will usually only be passed on through a
 population if the traits that those genes control 
are beneficial to an animal.

When carriers of albinism breed there is a one-in-four 
chance they will produce an albino fawn.

However, not all white deer are true albinos. 
Some white whitetails have normally pigmented noses, 
eyes and hooves. In that instance, it would only be a genetic 
mutation for hair color but not other pigments.


  1. How terrific and what a wonderful site it must have been. We hope the sweet one lives a happy life as albino animals have a difficult time.
    Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. Really! I've never heard of albino deer. I learned something new today.

  3. Just popping in from Helen's blog. Your photos are wonderful. I'm not very computer savvy, so I envy your skills in posting these photos. Love your sweet little doggies. I have a Maltese who is always on my lap whenever I am sitting such as now! Your quilting and sewing skills are fantastic. I haven't sewed for quite awhile. My mom was a quilter until her stroke several years ago so I appreciate the work that goes into making them. Have a wonderful weekend.

  4. I have never seen an albino but I have seen a totally black one for one whole summer. Black or nearly black is called melanism. It is caused by over- production of melanin. This condition is particularly rare in whitetails.
    Thanks for being a friend
    Sweet William The Scot

  5. I have heard of them although I've never seen one except in pictures. What an amazing site.