Goldfinch's picture

White Hedgehog

Observed: 6th August 2009 By: GoldfinchGoldfinch’s reputation in MammalsGoldfinch’s reputation in Mammals
White hedgehog
Description:

We saw this in Alderney, Channel Islands. It was snuffling around at night.

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

Kluut's picture

Amazing!!

Wow - I am not an adirmer of mutants in general, but this is one of the few that strikes me as beautiful, no doubt because I have a particular soft-spot for hedgepigs.

Unlike many? most? pale mutants in nature, it is obviously doing well as it has come through hibernation.

It is leucistic - reduced pigmentation throughout.

anonymous spotter's picture

Hedgehog

I was told that albinism is relatively common in these delightful beasts. Mind you, they themselves seem to be still in decline. Nice photo!

Goldfinch's picture

Thank you

Thank you for your comments!

the naturalist man's picture

White hedgehog

It could be the angle and the light but I don't think this is an albino; no pink eyes and the spines have some level of brown.

Sometimes in hedgehogs they are born with reduced melanin in the spines; a genetic defect. However, as with bird feathers, if the hedgehog is under stress (low food supply) when growing the animal may suppress melanin production creating pale spines.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

Goldfinch's picture

Not albino

I saw this on the channel island of Alderney. It is well-known for the blond hedgehog. I don't think it is albino, but it definitely wasn't the normal brown hedgehog.

Kluut's picture

Stress suppression

In birds, feather growth is quick, so dietary problems can have major effects on them - check/fault bars due to general malnutrition and/or shortage of particular essential amino-acids, and lack of pigmentation are both moderately common. So is stress melanism - the INCREASE in melanin deposition due to stress.
It is reasonably uncommon for any of these faults to affect entire feathers.
However, in mammals, hair (which is what spines are) growth is slow and a hedgehog in particular would not moult all spines at once, so dietary influence on spine colour is exceedingly unlikely. So uniform an effect/appearance is even less likely.
As for mammal hair colour being influenced by diet at all - of all of the very many films and photographs of, often very long term, maltreated domestic animals (and humans) that I recall seeing, none have showed "abnormal" coat/hair colour.

Reduced pigmentation is leucism.

I believe they are reasonably common on this Channel Island - ultimately due to the limited gene pool. They were probably introduced, but exact timing and source are subject to conjecture.

the naturalist man's picture

White hedgehog

I should have said "for example, diet". There are many forms of environmental stress which can affect an organism.

Hedgehog spines are hollow hairs, however, they are stiff because of an excess of keratin in the outer layer, the same substance from which feathers grow.

The ability of stress to cause a human's hair to go white is well known. Also malnutrition does reduce, even block in extreme cases, the production of melanin causing hair to pale to blonde, or a reddish colour. If you put "malnutrition hair colour" into Google you will find many references to this phenomenon.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

Kluut's picture

True

But incredibly rare because the malnutrition would have to last months without break to affect any appreciable length of hair/spine - the masses of starving people in Africa that get televised from time to time have normal hair colour.
In an omnivore such as a hedgehog, living in a mild, benign climate such as on Alderney, the chances are remote.