Albino Tigers

  Albino Tigers - Page 1: Introduction To Albinism | 2&3: Albino Tigers

The white tiger:

For many years the scientific community differed in their opinions on white tigers.

Were they a separate subspecies?

Were they complete or partial albinos?

Perhaps they were simply a mutant gene?

Those issues have now been clarified and it is known that white tigers are not albinos, and nor are they a separate subspecies, but are the result of a recessive gene. They lack much of their normal colour so can be considered albinistic, but the presence of pigmentation causing the stripes and colour in the lips, paw pads and nose, means they are not albinos.

Pigment can clearly be seen on the close-up of the white tiger shown here. Like all of the tigers pictured in this section there was almost no striping across the body, it was restricted to a tiny amount on the forehead and a couple of rings on the end of the tail.

There are no known photographs of albino tigers. People frequently send images to this site which they consider to be of albinos, however, to date, all have been of very pale, white tigers. If you think you have a photograph of a true albino tiger the Tiger Territory site would be most interested. Please e-mail

This all raises the question of whether or not true albino tigers exist.

An explanation of albinism:

Albino people or animals are deficient in melanin, one of the pigments which gives colour. The person or animal lacks the usual pigmentation, with the result being the skin and hair are abnormally white or milky. As a consequence these individuals and animals sunburn very easily.

Contrary to popular belief, the iris of the eye is not always pink, but may also be blue. The pupil is a deep red. The eyes are usually highly sensitive to the light; this is due to their lack of pigment. Albinos are prone to fast progressing severe cataracts and albino people need to wear sunglasses even on dull days. Albinos appear in less than 1% of the human population.

Selective breeding for albinism:

In some species, albino, leucistic and other genetic pigment anomalies are caused by selective breeding and the appearance of unusual colours in these animals is unremarkable. Leucistic animals may at first appear albino, but pigment in these creatures is not entirely absent; in most cases it is retained in the eyes.

Reptiles, mice, rabbits, pigeons and chickens are all animals where albinism has been used to develop new forms. At the present time there is much debate regarding the deliberate breeding of albino Doberman Pinschers for selling as pets. With the health problems these animals suffer, including blindness and skin cancer, a good argument can be made for not breeding them.

Albinism is very rare. When it occurs in the wild the animals have a very low survival rate. In captivity the rate of survival is good, but you will rarely sight an albino. Such is the rarity of albino animals that they, and their slightly less rare white cousins, are often held to be sacred. This applies to white elephants in Thailand and white cattle in India.

 Albino Tigers - Page 1: Introduction To Albinism | 2&3: Albino Tigers

History of the White Tiger | White Tigers | Albinos | Golden Tabbies | Black Tigers | Maltese (Blue) |
Red, Brown & Orange Tigers | White Lions

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Photography With Thanks To Hasuda Torauma
All Rights Reserved. Displayed here with permission, for educational, non-profit purposes.