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Abnormal Whitetail Deer Coloration

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We all know what normally colored white-tailed deer look like. Sure, the color of their hair may change seasonally, and even vary a bit between individual deer, but whitetails tend to be some shade of brown combined with white on the throat, belly, and under the tail. However, some color variations exists, and more on each is found below:

Abnormal Whitetail Deer Coloration

Piebald: Piebald whitetails have patches of white hair but are otherwise normally colored. Piebalds are thought to be more common than albinos, and I have seen far more photos of piebald deer than albino deer. Depending on the part of the United States you are from, piebald deer are sometimes referred to as pintos.

Melanistic: Melanistic white-tailed deer are very dark, often approaching totally black. Melanism results from overproduction of pigment and is far less common than albinism. Hunters do see dark deer with some frequency, but to witness an actual melanistic deer is rare.

Color Variation in Whitetail: A Melanistic (Black) Buck

Albino: Albino white-tailed deer are totally white, and true albinos have pink eyes from a lack of pigement in their eyes. Albanism results from recessive genes and is more common than melanism.

Note: Protecting piebald, melanistic, and albino deer from hunting would concentrate those genes in a closed environment, but would probably have little to no biological impact in an open system (and probably would not result in an increase of these traits).

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