Piebald Deer

Have you seen a Piebald Deer?

According to Dictionary.com, the term “piebald” refers to “having patches of black and white or of other colors; parti-colored” and “a piebald animal, especially a horse.” Well, in my case, on several occasions while working as a wildlife rehabber and while driving through a neighborhood street I’ve not seen a piebald horse, but deer. They are quite a site to behold. Pictured is one I’ve seen a couple of times while driving home in Maryland (I’ve not seen one deer since moving to Florida!).

There are a lot of websites that discuss the causes (genetic) and the problems that go along with the condition. The degree of piebaldism and associated maladies can range from mild to severe. Many of the sites I came across also discuss the debate over shooting these deer and I did see mention that it is illegal to shoot these deer in several states (I won’t get into a debate over hunting here).

I found this to be an interesting read on the topic: https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/02/03/white-deer-understanding-a-common-animal-of-uncommon-color/

Other related terms: albinism and leucism. I’ve heard of albinism before, but if I heard the term leucism before it would have been many years ago as a wildlife management major and long ago fallen out of my memory. The term “leucism” is defined as a “condition in which there is a partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales or cuticle, but not the eyes…. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin.” (citation: Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucism).

Well, regardless of definition and the science behind the white coloration (and I do find it all fascinating), the truth is it is amazing to see these creatures. I hope to be lucky enough to see, and photograph, one again!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *