A British Columbia resident found an odd, spikey white creature gnawing on hydraulic hoses and electric cables. Upon closer inspection, they discovered that the critter was a very rare, albino porcupine, and it was in need of care. Now, the Northern Lights Animal Sanctuary has a new snowy-white resident for the winter that they’ve named “Coconut.”
When wildlife experts learned about the creature’s location, they decided it was in its best interest that they keep it for the next few months as relocating a young porcupine or “porcupette” in the winter can be dangerous and often unsuccessful. So, until the weather gets warmer, the staff at Northern Lights Animal Sanctuary will be providing Coconut with “room service.”
“This time we got a special new guest. This albino porcupette was living in a barn and chewing on stuff that was not good for him /her,” the sanctuary wrote in a post on Instagram. “We assessed the situation and found this was not a safe place for the animal. It will stay with us for a few months because relocating in the winter is not ideal.”
The all-white porcupine already appeared to be at home, perching on a branch in the enclosure. Along with its colorless quills, the creature also sports reddish-pink eyes, denoting the absence of pigment.
From Albino Porcupines to Leucistic Turkey Vultures
The albino porcupine isn’t the only strangely colored creature to make headlines recently. Earlier this week, Everglades National Park shared a photo of a rare, white turkey vulture resting beside its brown-feathered friend.
According to officials, “This leucistic turkey vulture has been spotted in the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park in the past.”
Much like the porcupine in British Columbia, the vulture turned quite a few heads, and many wondered if this creature, too, was albino. However, the national park clarified that the bird had leucism. Unlike albinism, leucism is a genetic condition in which an animal only partially lacks coloration in its fur, feather, skin and irises. At first glance, it might appear that this vulture shared the porcupine’s total lack of pigment, but it actually has just a few brown feathers tucked behind its wings. Not to mention, Everglades National Park experts confirmed that the bird had brown eyes, unlike the porcupine’s pink eyes.
Both albinism and leucism are fairly harmless to the animal, but the conditions may cause difficulties for the animals when it comes to camouflaging from predators. Typically, these creatures don’t live very long because they stick out from their surroundings, making them a more viable target. This makes mature creatures with these pigment conditions even rarer.