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Snow-white deer appears on Edisto Island; wildlife expert weighs in

A white piebald deer on Edisto Island. S.C. (Courtesy Randy Woodard)

EDISTO ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) - A snow-white deer appeared near Edisto Island last week and photos were shared on social media.

ABC News 4 reached out to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to learn more about the unique coloring of this deer.

According to Charles Ruth, a certified wildlife biologist and big game program coordinator with SCDNR, despite the snowy white appearance, the deer is not an albino deer, but rather a "piebald."

“You will note that its eyes and nose are dark and it has a dark patch on its forehead. This would not be the case with a true albino, which would have pink eyes and nose and no dark patch on the forehead," Ruth said.

Ruth says piebaldism is a genetic anomaly in deer and not related to inbreeding, as people often believe.

"It is typically caused when two normal deer, each carrying recessive genes for the trait, mate," he said. "These deer typically do not have good survivability as fawns because, in addition to the abnormal color, these deer can have a number of other congenital defects including, parrot jaw (overbite), malformed legs, scoliosis of the spine and internal organ issues. The ones that survive obviously have fewer of the major health problems."

Ruth said while the white deer in the photo appears shorter than its fellow deer, it appears to be getting along just fine.

"The piebald anomaly is mainly a curiosity and does not constitute anything important to overall deer herd health," he said. "It is simply an individual animal issue."

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