Albino deer are very rare, so most people have never seen one. There is only about 1 albino in 30,000 whitetail deer. Actually, only about 1 albino occurs in 100,000 births and most of these fawns don’t survive their first year.
Most whitetail habitats are green and brown, so being completely white is highly disadvantageous to albinos. They are very noticeable to predators, including hunters, and tend to have poor eyesight.
Albinism is a recessive trait where the animal does not have a coloration gene, which means there is virtually no color on the animal’s body. Skin, hair and tissues on an albino are colorless and the eyes appear pink since the blood vessels show through the colorless iris. Because it’s a recessive trait, an albino fawn will only be produced if both ‘parents’ carry the gene. Albinos bred with normal deer will produce a normal-pigmented deer, but will still carry the recessive albino gene. If two normal-pigmented deer carrying the gene were to breed, they would have a 1 in 4 chance of producing an albino fawn.
Anther abnormal coloration on whitetail deer is Piebald, featuring normal colored fur with patches of white. Piebald deer are more common than true albino deer. Melanistic deer are very dark, sometimes black. Melanistic deer are the least common of the three whitetail coat anomalies, which results from an overproduction of pigment in the skin.
Albino, Piebald, and Melanistic whitetail deer are all very rare to see, so if given the opportunity, be sure to get a picture!
Be certain to check your state’s game laws regarding Albino, Piebald and Melanistic whitetail deer. In many states they are classified as protected.