Thursday, 21 April 2011

It's all white to be a rare sight in the bush

A standout ... one of the albino wallaroos that has been spotted at Wolgan Valley
in the Blue Mountains. Photo: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
THAT is not an escaped lab mouse on steroids peering through the grass of the Wolgan conservation area in the Blue Mountains.

Nor is it a giant white rabbit on its way to a tea party.

It is, in fact, a rare albino wallaroo, one of three that have been delighting staff and visitors at the Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa.

"We've had sightings of one mature albino wallaroo on the property since opening 18 months ago, but to have two more spotted on the property is incredibly rare and exciting for us and our guests," the resort's general manager Joost Heymeijer said.

The resort's field guides have noticed the albino wallaroos are more timid and less trusting of humans than their grey brothers and sisters, and wait until it is darker to come out to feed.

The education program co-ordinator at Featherdale Wildlife Park in Doonside, Peter Spradbrow, said albinism is a rare condition where the skin, hair and eyes lack the pigment that gives them colour.

It is observed across many animal species, but in the wild it is difficult for an albino creature to reach adulthood.

''Albino animals are particularly at risk of predation because they stand out from their environment,'' Mr Spradbrow said.

And, to make matters worse, they suffer from skin cancers and other skin diseases because they lack the pigment which protects them from UV radiation.

Albinism often shows up when both parents pass on the albinism gene. Some individuals who look normal carry the gene but are not albino.

Featherdale has albino laughing kookaburras, blue-tongue lizards, common wallaroos and tammar wallabies. ''The weirdest example of an albino that I have ever seen is an albino red-bellied black-snake,'' Mr Spradbrow said.
(Via Chad Arment)

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