How freakin’ cool would it be to see a white moose? These don’t come around very often.
Cool for us, not as cool for the moose. Being an albino is a major disadvantage in nature.
According to one study (Esteve, J.V.; Jeffery, G 1998) “”Squirrels are the only known albino mammal to survive successfully in the wild.” These guys might already be wrong as this albino moose looks to be doing just fine.
Here’s what wikipedia says about being albino:
Consequences of Albinism:
Melanin has several functions in most mammals and other animals; these are disrupted by albinism.
Abnormal eye development and appearance
Melanin functions in the normal development of various parts of the eye, including the iris, retina, eye muscles, and optic nerve. The absence of melanin results in abnormal development of eyes and leads to problems with focusing, and depth perception. The eyes of albino animals appear red because the colour of the red blood cells in the retina can be seen through the iris, which has no pigment to obscure this. Some albino animals may have pale-blue eyes due to other colour generating processes. Albino vertebrates exposed to intense light typically lose photoreceptors due toapoptosis.
In all albino mammals studied, the centre of the retina is under-developed and there is a deficit of rod cells; the central ganglion cell density is approximately 25% below normal (except for the gray squirrel). In nearly all mammals, the overwhelming majority of photoreceptors are rods rather than cones. Albinism specifically affects the rod cells, but the number and distribution of the cones is unaffected. In contrast, the retina of birds is cone rich meaning that the vision of albino birds is affected less than albino mammals.
Reduced protection from sunlight
Melanin protects the skin from ultra-violet radiation in sunlight. Melanosomes block harmful electromagnetic radiation from the sun while allowing beneficial frequencies to enter the body.
Many animals with albinism lack their protective camouflage and are therefore less able to conceal themselves from their predators or prey: The survival rate of animals with albinism in the wild can be low, however, it has been stated that in studies where animals had many places to hide, predators captured albino and normally coloured animals at the same rate. Furthermore, albino animals may be excluded from families or other groups, or rejected as mates.
The novelty of albino animals has occasionally led to their protection by groups such as the Albino Squirrel Preservation Society. They have also been protected in studies on their ecology and behaviour.
Studies on medaka fish in the laboratory, i.e. with no predators, sufficient food supply, controlled temperatures, etc., found that albinos had considerably reduced viability; from 800 albino embryos, only 29 survived to full adulthood. Early studies on fish led some researchers to describe albinism as a “semi-lethal mutation”.
Pigmentation disorders such as albinism are occasionally associated with hearing impairments in mice, rats, guinea pigs and cats.