Freak Deer

Vintage photograph: property of Psyche Skinner
Vintage photograph: property of Psyche Skinner

The photograph

This picture is completely unmarked and of unknown origin. It is grey-scale and possible dates from the 1970s. It is marked on the front "Freak deer -- Raiford, Fla".

The Animal

Shown is a small, apparently wild/free-roaming, deer that is white with brown speckles or spots in a pattern that is normally referred to as "piebald".

The Condition

Deer that inherit recessive genes of reduced pigment from both parents may appear to be nearly entirely white, but they may also be white only on parts of their bodies. Less than 1% of white tail deer are piebald, but the proportion varies by location.

Piebald deer are more common than albinos. The fact that piebald deer are not a different species is clearly shown by piebald fawns being found with normally colored mothers and siblings (see video below).

Some people report that piebald deer often have a shortened muzzle or legs, or other physical abnormalities.

Other Examples

White and spotted deer are still found in Florida, as well as in other areas:

  • Fawn (Ohio, 2002)--taxidermy specimen

So this vintage picture represents an older example of a piebald deer, a pattern becoming more common in some of the smaller, isolated and more therefore more inbred populations of white-tail deer.

Piebald deer (2009)
Piebald deer (2009)

Photo credit: stillriverside / Foter.com / CC BY

A markerPenn's Cave Wildlife Centre -
Penn's Cave Inc, 222 Penns Cave Road, Centre Hall, PA 16828, USA
[get directions]

Where Can I see Piebald Deer?

Piebald deer are widespread. One place you can readily see them is Penn’s Cave Wildlife Park.

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