CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – For the past few weeks, Christie Morgan Schoen has seen what she believes to be two rare albino deer in her Cape Girardeau, Missouri yard. Schoen said they hang out every morning along with a larger brown deer.
She believes the deer are true albino animals because of their coloring, especially their eyes.
Albino deer, sometimes called “ghost deer,” have white coats and hooves, plus pink noses and eyes. Their unique coloring is due to a rare genetic mutation which occurs in approximately 1 in every 30,000 deer, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
However, not all white deer are albinos. Many deer that appear to be all white have a genetic condition commonly known as leucism, which is a rare genetic trait found in approximately 1 percent of all whitetail deer, according to the Nature Conservancy.
Albino deer, white deer and partially white deer, known as piebalds, stand out in the woods, which makes them more susceptible to predators — including humans, which are allowed to hunt them in most states.