Leucistic Malabar Giant Squirrel, Mahableshwar

Anup Deodhar
Anup Deodhar

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Leucism is extremely rare in animals. Though several squirrels exhibit leucism this is probably the first record for this species of squirrel.

Albinism and leucism are two terms to do with the lack of pigmentation in animals, that are often confused with each other. Albinism is the complete absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. Leucism (or leukism) is a form of partial albinism characterized by retention of color in the eyes, bill, and legs but the skin or plumage contains no color pigment.

The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire animal, not just patches. Due to the lack of melanin production in both the retina and iris, albinos typically have red eyes due to the underlying blood vessels showing through. In contrast, most leucistic animals have normally coloured eyes like this leucistic Indian or Malabar Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica).

Leucism is extremely rare in animals. Though several squirrels exhibit leucism this is probably the first record for this species of squirrel.

This squirrel was photographed by Pune-based wildlife photographer Anup Deodhar in February 2013 in Mahableshwar, Maharashtra while accompanied by Rajendra Dhage and Sachin Vaidya.

Deepa Mohan helped compile this report.

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