There are many known turkey breeds. Albino turkeys are among them. Although these birds are rare, they are there and do exist.
it is common science that albinism is a pigmentation disorder but can turkeys really suffer from this condition?
In this article, I am going to take you through an overview of albino turkeys in order to clear the doubts in your mind and also separate facts from fiction.
What causes albinism in turkeys?
It was on a Thursday evening as I was walking in the woods and spotted something rare. I moved closer and on one of the branches on the pines, was a wispy grey turkey.
At first I could not believe it and I asked myself how a domestic bird got its way up and decided to roost with her wild cousins.
Are there turkeys that suffer from pigmentation disorders making them albinos? Or is it tales or they are there in the fictional world?
Albino turkeys are there and it is not fictional. Researchers estimates that out of 100 000 turkeys only one is an albino.
Albinism in turkeys will occur when recessive genes from a heterozygous pair get into the offspring. However, neither of the parents has to be an albino in order for the young produced to exhibit these qualities.
In normal cases, albinism is a skin condition where melanocytes fail to produce melanin a dark color pigment on the skin. However, in birds their color pigment is not on the skin but rather on their feathers.
Are albino turkeys rare?
Turkeys that suffer from pigmentation disorder or albinism are very rare. Experts say that out of 100 000 birds, only one is an albino.
Because of this reason, many people have never had a chance to see any albino turkeys but only hear of them. For most wild birds, albinism is a great disadvantage because they are exposed by their color and become an easy target for predators.
Since this condition is not dominant in turkeys, only a few birds will suffer from pigmentation disorder or even none. This makes it very hard to come across a smoke turkey or an albino bird either on a farm or in the wild.
What is the difference between albino turkeys and a white turkeys?
Most domestic turkeys raised are white in color although there are other different color varieties like bronze and black. Melanin is the color pigment produced by cells in the skin that gives color to the turkey feathers or any body plumage.
Albino turkeys have cells that fail to produce the color pigment or produce in very small amounts of melanin making their feathers lack pigment. Additionally, they can have a wispy color that makes them look smoky.
In birds like the Midget white turkeys, their cells produce white color pigments making their plumage white in color.
A white turkey spotted in the wild may be as a result of escape from the farm or one that was deliberately released in the wild. Additionally, wild turkeys ranging near farms can coincidentally mate with farm turkeys resulting to a white offspring.
Albino turkeys appearance
Just by the look you can easily tell the difference. Turkey poults suffering from color disorders are known to become blind in some cases. This is because the eye retinas will lack a black color pigment that keeps them safe against strong light.
Turkeys that suffer from albinism retain that kind of color on their entire lives and nothing can be done about it. They have different color phases that are commonly known and they are: red, white, smoke and black.
There are also some species that suffer from hyper pigmentation and their plumage is jet black. Those that are white or lack pigmentation in their feathers are likely to be easily attacked by predators as they cannot camouflage with the surrounding.
This genetic condition affects hens more than gobblers for reasons that are not scientifically proven. Additionally, this color variation is known to be more common in some locations than others.
White color in turkeys does not mean that they are albinos. What makes a turkey a complete albino is the color of the eyes. If they are pink in color, they are true albinos.
What is a smoke phase turkey?
This as a bird that lacks or has no brown pigments within its feathers. Unlike other species, these birds are wispy grey in color giving them the smoke color appearance.
Indeed there are albino turkeys. This condition is a pigmentation problem and is very rare. That is the reason it is hard to see an albino turkey.
True albinism in turkeys is defined by the eye color. Only those with pink eyes are presumed to be albinos and not otherwise.
Have you ever seen albino turkey? Share your thoughts on the comment section.
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