The Aquarium on Roanoke Island recently acquired this rare reptile on loan from the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. The juvenile male arrived after a very long trip from New Orleans.
The unusual white coloration in both leucistic and albino alligators is due to rare genetic traits. The uncommon coloration comes from recessive genes.
Rare leucistic alligators are marked with patches of natural coloration and often have blue eyes. Albinos lack all natural coloration and eyes are usually pink. Other albino abnormalities frequently include crossed jaws and curved spines. Unlike albinos, leucistic alligators are usually healthy and strong.
Out of the roughly five million alligators that make up the American alligator population, there are thought to be only about 12 leucistic alligators (from 2009 data). Females may carry the leucistic gene, but not necessarily display it.
Lacking natural skin pigmentation for camouflage, white and leucistic alligators are vulnerable to many predators. In their natural habitat most do not survive into adulthood. They are also vulnerable to sunlight and may need vitamin D supplements in their diet.