What You've Wanted To Know About The Amazing Albino Groundhog!

Moumita Dutta
Mar 21, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Mar 21, 2023
Edited by Sarah Nyamekye
Fact-checked by Mannat Sharma
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Albino Groundhog in open cage

Albino groundhogs are rare animals.

They are also called albino woodchucks and belong to the rodent family, Sciuridae. These are basically large ground squirrels that are known as marmots.

Albino animals are very uncommon. Only about 300 species of animals are albinos, who suffer from a rare disease called albinism. This disease develops due to the lack of the color imparting pigment, melanin, in their body.

Groundhogs are, in general, brownish-gray in color. However, there are white groundhogs present, possessing a magical charm, and they get easily captured in the eyes of their predators. They are about 16.5-27.0 in (41.8-68.5 cm) in length and weigh about 5-15 lb (2-6.3 kg).

A recent sight of this rare species has been spotted at the Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve in the United States. These small mammals live a difficult life in the wild due to their irresistible white charm. Just like other groundhog animals, the albino groundhog feeds on different plant and plant parts, including weeds, shrubs, grass, carrots, and dandelions.

Are you enjoying the read? Then don't forget to check out the groundhog tail and do groundhogs hibernate here on Kidadl.

Are there white groundhogs?

Although albinism is rare in mammals, white groundhogs do exist, and a recent report from the Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve in the United States further confirmed the presence of these species.

White raccoons and bears have been spotted among the albino mammals. The white cat is also popular. But the existence of the white groundhog is quite unbelievable.

Birds show this trait more than mammals. The wildlife biologist of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Glen Therres, stated that he never came across a white groundhog in this career. Another biologist, Tom Hardisky, also stated that these creatures are very rarely seen.

How rare is a white groundhog?

Owing to their inability to camouflage with their surroundings, white groundhogs remain close to their burrows. Hence, one cannot easily spot them in a backyard.

They are extremely rare and are seen seldomly foraging on grass. The albino animals are preyed on by many animals. Their flawlessly white body contrasts with their surroundings. People find them fascinating and often hunt them down.

They are also involved in the pet trade. The snow-white albino animals, therefore, stay hidden most of the time in their burrows or in a bush. Moreover, they cant be kept as pets because of their busy nature of chewing all the time.

Genes Of A White Groundhog

A white albino animal suffers from a lack of pigmentation in its skin. This results in the pale white coloration of their body.

White groundhogs do not produce the pigment melanin, which is responsible for imparting color to their body. This lack of melanin mainly occurs due to a genetic condition involving insufficient synthesis of melanocytes from the tyrosine protein.

This condition is seen in other animals as well, especially birds. They face a lot of difficulties due to this particular condition, and hence, wildlife conservation must ensure the protection of these species. Many people still do not believe the existence of the albino groundhog to be true.

Albino groundhogs lack the color imparting pigment.

How many exist in the world?

The exact number of albino groundhogs present in the world is not known as of now.

However, several renowned biologists have stated that these creatures are infrequently seen in the yard or any other place, as they face extreme predation by other animals. They mostly stay hidden behind a bush or inside their burrows.

These creatures are known to forage near their burrows in order to quickly escape from the predators. They have a large variety of predators, including fox, bear, coyotes, and weasels.

Birds, like the red-tailed hawk, also prey on these groundhog species. It is believed that some Canadians of Ontario celebrate Groundhog Day every year in memory of three albino groundhogs. The first groundhog lived for about 22 years and was named Wiarton Willie, and the other two were Wee Willie and Wee Willie Two.

Difficulties Albino Groundhogs Face

A certain difficulty occurs to the animals suffering from albinism. The lack of the pigment, melanin, makes them look milky white, which easily catches the eyes of other big animals.

The main difficulty that they face is camouflaging. The rodent animal family camouflages themselves to hide from the potential threats. The albino groundhog fails to keep itself protected as it becomes distinctly visible in the bushes.

Their key defense mechanism is lost, thereby making them a Vulnerable species. Another big challenge faced by the animal is poor eyesight.

They are visually impaired due to the condition of albinism. Thus, they cannot spot the presence of other animals easily and often get caught. Humans also use them for illegal poaching and trading.

Conserving Groundhogs

Albino groundhogs need to be protected as they are Vulnerable animals.

Several factors contribute to their vulnerability. Wildlife and other protected areas should be created for these exclusive groundhogs. It is illegal to hunt them and trade them as pets.

Most of these animals suffer from rabies. Various other infections also occur in these animals. They do not make good pets, owing to their continuous nature of chewing food.

It is recommended not to keep them in a cage or in a yard. They thrive well in the wild, where they forage on plenty of vegetation. The groundhog also serves as an important animal.

It contributes oxygen to the soil by digging deep burrows. The compact soil thus gets aerated with oxygen and becomes rich in nutrients. Plants grow well in this soil.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for albino groundhogthen why not take a look at groundhog poop, or groundhog facts?

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Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog

https://clarkstonnews.com/albino-groundhog-moves-into-couples-yard/

https://wpdh.com/extremely-rare-albino-woodchuck-spotted-in-the-hudson-valley/

https://bangordailynews.com/2021/05/19/outdoors/trail-cam-mystery-animal-named-fluffy-turns-out-to-be-albino-woodchuck/

https://patch.com/illinois/homerglen-lockport/albino-groundhog-spotted-lockport-prairie-nature-preserve

https://www.reconnectwithnature.org/news-events/the-buzz/extremely-rare-albino-woodchuck-spotted-at-lockpor

https://amp.heraldmailmedia.com/amp/116643204

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Mannat Sharma

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Computers and Communication

Mannat Sharma picture

Mannat SharmaBachelor of Technology specializing in Computers and Communication

As an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Computers and Communication Engineering from Manipal University, Jaipur, Mannat is driven to take on challenges outside of her niche. She has previous experience as a senior marketing and sales associate as well as in branding.

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