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This Week’s Creature Feature: Who’s an Albino?

Not all white animals qualify 

      A white deer is often sighted near Tracys Landing. A white-winged house sparrow lives around Ego Alley in Annapolis.
      These animals have some normal colored areas and normal eye pigmentation, so they are not true albinos. Albinos have lost the gene to create pigment; they have no pigmentation anywhere. Their eyes reveal the pink of the blood vessels of the retina. They are usually fragile creatures that have a short life.
      Animals with leucism, on the other hand, have a difficulty with pigment-creating cells that don’t mature uniformly. Areas with no pigment cells are white.  
       Some leucistics are completely white except for their eyes, which are normally pigmented. Most have spotty areas of coloration. In birds, the condition is fairly rare. Cornell Ornithology estimates the condition to occur less than one in 5,500 animals.
      The condition can be inherited. There is a cluster of white deer in Seneca, New York, and white gray squirrels in Brevard, North Carolina, and Olney, Illinois. All of these groups are federally protected.