Albino Deer: All About White Whitetail

Albino deer. Most have heard of white deer 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 typically 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 — so albinos  just looks white.

All About Albino White-tailed Deer

White Deer and Other Albinos

In addition to a lack of body pigment, the eyes of an albino deer and other animals are pink because blood vessels behind the lenses show through the unpigmented irises. As you might have guessed, albinism is not a great trait for an animal, either predator or prey, unless they live in areas with constant snow cover, constant darkness or possibly even high up in the sky.

Obviously, being totally white year-round makes concealment in most deer habitat difficult. To make matters worse, many albinos generally have poor eyesight, which is another genetic factor linked with albinism.

Albino Deer are Rare

Animals that lack pigmentation and have poor eyesight are not common on the surface of the earth. Perhaps that is why albino deer are rare: A lack of camoflauge combined with poor eyesight increase the likelyhood of fatal attacks by deer predators.

The truth is that plants and animals are constantly adapting through chances i the gene pool, though the process can take hundreds or even thousands of years to impart appreciable changes. Typically, a gene will only be passed on through a population if the traits that those genes control are beneficial to an animal. However, some traits, such as albinism, can be carried by individual animals and not necessarily be exhibited.

Albino White-tailed Deer Buck

Facts About White, Albino Deer

Because albinism is a recessive trait, both buck (father) and doe (mother) must carry the gene before it even has the possibility to be expressed in their offspring. It is a fact that an albino deer bred to another albino would have only albinos. An albino bred to a normal brown and white deer (with no recessive genes for albinism) would produce only normally-pigmented white-tailed deer. Offspring from this cross would carry the recessive gene for albinism, but would be normally colored.

When two deer (parents) that are carriers of albinism breed there is a one-in-four chance they will produce an albino fawn. As I mentioned earlier, recessive genetic traits typically become less common unless they confer a survival advantage or are artificially enhanced for expression through selective breeding.

Albino Deer: Whitetail Doe

The Odds of an Albino Deer

Based on deer hunter reports, only about one deer in 30,000 whitetail is an albino deer! However, it must be pointed out that 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.

188 Replies to “Albino Deer: All About White Whitetail”

  1. We bagged an albino buck last Saturday, December 1st. We took this amazing deer in Chicora, Pennsylvania, Butler County. I have been hunting deer in western PA for 27 years and this was the first true albino I have ever seen. I have seen piebalds in the past and never tried to take one in the hopes they would breed into a full albino someday. Guess that was a good idea. Thanks to Mother Nature that we had the privilege to harvest such an amazing animal

  2. I saw an almost (70 precent) white deer off interstate 90 near West Seneca, N.Y. (Buffalo) right before the William Street exit. Saw it at 8 am….told my girlfriend….on our way home… 5:30pm….saw it again with her!!!

  3. We live north of Clarksville, Arkansas, on Hwy 21. My granddaughter and I were driving down the road when our neighbor stopped us and said look out there. It was a doe and a fawn, and the fawn was solid white. MY first albino.

  4. I just saw an albino baby deer in West Deer Twp., Gibsonia, Pa. In my backyard. It’s the second one I have seen, first was near Erie about 10yrs. Ago. What a truly amazing and rare site!

  5. My husband and I just saw a white deer outside our kitchen window here on Whidbey Island, Washington. We see a lot of deer around here but this is the first one we’ve see in 18 yrs., here. It was starling and quite beautiful. It was with two other “normal” looking deer.

  6. I just saw a deer this morning that was mostly white. It had some dark coloring around the face and foot area. At first as I was driving up on it I thought it was a goat. Then I asked my husband how could a goat be loose in this area. As I got closer I realized it was actually a deer and there was a normal colored deer behind it. We were in Vernon, New Jersey. I have never seen a deer that looked like that before it was beautiful.

  7. I’ve never seen white deer before but this year we have 2 white does similar size in our back pastures. Unable to tell if they are true albino. What’s the chance of having two though?

  8. I saw an white doe in Nacogdoches, Texas, this weekend. My first thought was “sick llama?” When I got closer, she took my breath away.

  9. Spirit of Christmas showed up in our yard this morning. My first ever albino deer. He was breath-taking. So grateful for the chance to see one in my lifetime. WF, NC.

  10. March 9, 2014 at the Wake Forest Church of God in North Carolina we saw what we think was an albino deer. It was with a herd of deer, about 15. This deer looked to be about a year old and solid white. We watched it in amazement as it grazed the grass. Great way to end the night!

  11. My dad and I just saw a beautiful albino whitetail! Wow, truly amazing. Winnebago county, Wisconsin.

  12. Just saw our first albino deer at Keystone College in Lackawanna County, during a softball game. Awesome sight. Hoping to see it on our way home. Didn’t get a picture…we were in awe of the deer.

  13. Saw an albino white tailed deer this morning near a ranch by Camp Wood, Texas. We were out for an early morning walk and saw this deer who was in a group of three whitetails. The other two deer were of the usual brown coloration. What a treat! ……..of course something was wrong with the camera. Grrrrrr!

  14. We saw a small solid white yearling deer on the way home from church in South Carolina. Felt like it was a sign of something very special. In all my 70 years the first one I have seen.

  15. I have seen 3 albino whitetails in my life, one of which snuck into my tent while I was camping, thus forth pooping on my sleeping bag. Not exactly a magical moment.

  16. We saw a white deer in Morganton, North Carolina. Most beautiful sight. There was a normal colored deer in front of it.

  17. Does anyone know if the venison from an albino is different. Is it still good to eat? Never harvested one… we have two albinos in our area.

  18. I saw a completely albino deer in Waynesboro, Virginia, in early December 2014. It appeared to be about 70-80 pounds, without antlers.

  19. We had two fawn albinos on our street in Fredericksburg, Virginia. One was crippled/abnormal and he did not live.

  20. Couldn’t believe my eyes as I passed by and saw a brown deer and an albino facing each other and looking my direction as I passed by in Stopover, Kentucky. After which I stopped and had to backup to see if what I was seeing was real or not, which they had already was gone. Just had to take a second look to verify if it was real what I was seeing. Glad I got a chance to see one for that brief moment.

  21. David, I could not tell if you were just sharing your albino fawn story with us or if you were concerned about the fawn being left. I’ll suggest that the doe is simply keeping her fawn there, which she deems to be a safer place that elsewhere.

  22. We have a deer with her albino baby living in the woods behind us in Michigan City, Indiana. Quite a site!

  23. Last weekend coming north on Highway 9 around Mount Ida, AR, spotted albino deer 4 spike in the side of the road never knew they existed wow

  24. We saw an albino deer in Marquette, Michigan, last week. t was in a semi-populated area and was with two other regular white-tailed deer.

  25. Saw an albino “ghost” deer this morning about a mile from my house in southern Iowa. Since this is a big doe that I’ve seen twice now…the first time was last spring about a mile or less from where I saw here today, I named her “Bunny”. She was bedded down about 50 yards from a house and looked just like an Easter bunny in the leaves. Last spring, she had a normal colored fawn with her. So happy that she is still alive and wise enough to bed near enough to a house that no one would dare harm her.

  26. I’ve never seen an albino deer but I’d like to. I am doing a informational story on them they are rare but very cool.

  27. Saw a beautiful white deer yesterday. Was with at least 2 other normal deer. It seemed to be about 20% larger than the others. From all the postings there seem to be a fair amount of white deer in this part of NC (Raleigh).

  28. I live in Raleigh and found an albino fawn this week in our neighborhood. I am set to take it to the one fawn rehabber in NC (this year) this weekend. I explored options to keep her from being released, but state law is strict. Albinos are released like all others despite being such targets. I am considering starting a petition to make it illegal to hunt albinos. Some states restrict although they are still shot. BTW, I am a rehabber so I was careful to make sure baby was abandoned and also am following careful guidelines for its care until I release it to a fawn rehabber. She is an amazing display of God’s creation!

  29. Seen a male albino deer in Holly Springs, North Carolina, this evening at a park. It was amazing how beautiful it was.

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