Keep reading to learn what melanism is, what causes melanism, and how rare melanistic deer are! Moreover, you’ll find out what makes melanistic deer different from albino and piebald deer!
Unlike other uniquely patterned animals (albinos, piebalds), melanistic creatures tend to live longer, thanks to their dark color. They can easily camouflage to avoid predators. Other animals, like leopards, use their appearance for better foraging during night hunting.
Hein van Grouw, in the study called “The dark side of birds: melanism – fact and fiction,” stated that melanism is associated with the mutation of a gene that encodes the MC1R protein, the melanocortin one receptor, which is responsible for melanin pigmentation regulation. However, other studies show that other factors besides genetic mutation may cause melanism.
Melanistic deer have very dark brown or completely black hair. They do not have light brown or white coloration. The color is uniformly distributed over their bodies. While albino deer have pink eyes, melanistic deer have normal-colored eyes.
While melanism is pretty common in other animals, melanistic deer are extremely rare. Even albino deer are more common than melanistic deer! Some sources say that a hunter’s chances to spot a melanistic deer are at a 1:500,000 ratio or lower!