Albino white-tailed deer may be neat to see, but did you know that a true albino occurs in only one of out of 100,000 births and very few fawns survive beyond the first year of life? It’s true. For an albino deer to live over seven years is extremely unusual — almost unheard of. And if you think about it, this makes sense for a lot of reasons. First, most of the whitetail’s range consist of habitat that is dominated by the colors green and brown–not white.
Within various wildlife species, animal coloration is based on the process of natural selection. In short, color mutations occur infrequently overall, but if the color variations were well-suited for the environment where they are found, then those “oddly” colored animals would survive to breed and pass on their genes. If the genes cause an animal to stick out, such as a white deer in a primarily green or brown environment, then the animal will be more noticable to predators, including humans. This results in the animal being depredated or harvested. In either case, the color abnormality does not benefit the white animal.
The albino whitetail buck seen above is a true albino. In cases of true albinism, albino deer lack pigmentation in the hair, skin, and, in the case of deer, the iris of the eyes. However, eyes can be pink or blue and the hoofs a pale gray. In some areas, albino deer are even protected by law. However, most states do not protect deer with color abnormalities.
To sum up, albinos are interesting animals, and albino white-tailed deer are no different. They are genetic phenonmenons that physically don not make sense in most cases, but could under certain environmental conditions (for example, if it snowed throughout the year). So although most of us will never see a wild albino deer, if you do, just consider the odds!