Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hey, That's No Bird!

You're right. It's not. Normally I only post about birds here, but I have to make an exception this time. Because I have to share with you something that's even cuter than a Black-necked Stilt chick - my newest squirrel, Blondie.

Blondie isn't albino, but instead is leucistic. Do you know what that is? Let's look at more pics of Blondie before I tell you what I've learned about leucism, shall we?

Isn't she cute? I've got some more images to share that really show how light she is compared to my other squirrels, but let me take a brief moment to tell you about leucism. According to Wikipedia, leucism is a condition characterized by reduced pigmentation. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in ALL types of skin pigment, not just melanin. And that's why Blondie's eyes aren't red, like you see in an albino. More on that in a sec. Time for a couple more pics.

You see how light she is in comparison to one of my other regulars? But she's not albino, because she has regular dark eyes. She is leucistic. I'm sure you know about the red eyes in albinos. Know why they're red? Because you are actually looking at the blood vessels in the eye! The lack of melanin production in albinos causes the underlying blood vessels in the eye to show through. Did you know this? I didn't. But Blondie's normal eye color is another signal that she's leucistic, not albino.

Here are two more pics, one where Blondie almost looks like she's posing and another where she's decided that the other squirrel looks good enough to kiss. Squirrel kisses - who knew?