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Southern Company River Scout

White American alligator

White American alligator

(Alligator mississippiensis)

The white American alligator is the same species as one with normal olive and black coloration on its back. It is white due to a very rare genetic mutation that affects the production of melanin, a skin pigment. White alligators do not survive long in the wild because they lack camouflage coloration and are easily caught by predators. They are also very sensitive to direct sunlight.

There are two types of white alligators. Albino individuals, which have red eyes, are very rare. Leucistic (“lu-sis-tic”) individuals, which have blue eyes, are extremely rare. The eyes of albino animals are red because the underlying blood vessels in the iris can be seen due to the absence of pigment. Leucistic animals have blue eyes because there is some normal pigment present in the iris.

Come see the rare albino alligators in the Georgia swamp exhibit in the River Scout gallery.

Fun Facts

  • The first leucistic alligators to come to public attention were discovered in 1987 by a fisherman deep in a Louisiana swamp.
  • Albino alligators are hatched on rare occasions in alligator farms.
  • White alligators in a zoological setting must be kept out of the sun and their diet must be supplemented with vitamin D3 to make up for the lack of ultraviolet radiation.
  • The white alligator is the same species as the American alligator with normal black and olive coloring.
  • The albino alligator has a rare genetic mutation that affects the production of melanin.
  • Download full fact sheet

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