Watch This Albino Alligator Smile Like a Child at Her Spa Day

Written by Kellianne Matthews
Updated: October 23, 2023
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Key Points

  • Albino alligators are extremely rare. Due to a genetic defect in their DNA, they have white or yellow skin and pink eyes.
  • The lack of melanin in their skin causes sensitivity to sunlight and vulnerability to predators since they are not camouflaged.
  • In the video, watch as a zookeeper scrubs cute Coconut’s skin with a toothbrush, removing visible algae buildup.

If you think it’s impossible for a killer alligator to be adorably cute, then you clearly haven’t met Coconut. You won’t believe your eyes at how darling this little girl is in the video below. When she’s enjoying a well-deserved spa day, she can make even the hardest of hearts crack. Coconut can light up an entire room with her adorably quirky and toothy grin, smiling from ear to ear!

Watch Little Coconut Enjoy Her Bath!

An Albino Alligator Named Coconut

Coconut is one of many exotic animals that live at The Reptile Zoo in California. What makes Coconut so special, however, is that she is an albino alligator. There are only around 200 of these rare creatures in the entire world! These unique reptiles have a very striking and completely one-of-a-kind look with white or yellowish-white skin and stunning pink eyes. Albino alligators are not a separate species — their extraordinary appearance is due to a genetic defect in their DNA. This prevents their bodies from producing melanin, a natural pigment that helps to give color to the skin.

The lack of melanin may give albino alligators like Coconut an ethereal beauty, but it comes at a cost. Without these natural pigments in their skin, albino alligators are extremely vulnerable in the wild. Unlike regular alligators, albino alligators do not have camouflage-colored skin to help hide and protect themselves from predators. In addition, their light skin is extra delicate and sensitive, making them much more likely to burn in the sun. 

Coconut’s albino skin also makes it easy to see algae buildup all over her body. In the video below, you can watch as her keeper, Juliette Brewer, gives Coconut a nice scrub to remove buildup. Using the bigger end of a double-sided pet toothbrush, Brewer scrubs Coconut’s entire back. Throughout the entirety of her cleaning, Coconut lies calmly in Juliette’s arms. When Brewer scrubs the top of Coconut’s head, the sweet alligator closes her eyes with obvious pleasure and opens her mouth to reveal a big toothy grin. 

The Intriguing Properties of Alligator Skin

You might find it strange that an alligator would love a scrubby spa day so much. It’s true, these crocodilian creatures are renowned across the globe for their tough attitudes, heavily armored bodies, and impenetrable skin. However, did you know that an alligator’s sense of touch is actually one of the most sensitive in the animal world? Alligator skin is covered with small, spotted bumps that are filled with sensitive mechanoreceptor nerves. These nerves make alligators extremely sensitive to vibrations and any type of pressure. In fact, studies have shown that an alligator’s skin is even more sensitive and attuned to sensation than our fingertips! 

With their sensitive nerve-filled skin bumps, alligators can detect even the slightest vibrations with incredible accuracy. Their skin cells and nerves are finely tuned to detect minuscule ripples in the water, focusing on a very precise frequency range of 20 to 35 hertz. This allows alligators to not only detect water movements created by swimming prey, but also precisely determine the location of their prey and manipulate objects in their jaws with remarkable accuracy. Basically, it gives them the acuity to react quickly and instinctively in any situation with absolute precision!  It also allows female alligators to gently help their hatchlings break open their eggs and protect their babies safely in their otherwise dangerous jaws. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © one5zero/

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About the Author

Kellianne Matthews is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on anthrozoology, conservation, human-animal relationships, and animal behavior. Kellianne has been writing and researching animals for over eight years and holds a Master’s Degree from Brigham Young University, which she earned in 2017. A resident of Utah, Kellianne enjoys creating, exploring and learning new things, and caring for her cats.

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