- Wildlife Discovery
An American badger was spotted in California with a rare coloration that caught the attention of many. Recent photographs have shed new light on the mysterious appearance of this animal.
Release Date: February 12, 2024
Last November, a hiker exploring the coastal landscapes of California’s Point Reyes National Seashore encountered an extraordinary sight: a remarkably pale badger strolling down the path.
The images of this unique carnivore quickly made headlines in the San Francisco area, with numerous reports speculating that the North American badger might be affected by a condition called leucism, which results in a partial loss of pigmentation.
Subsequently, a local conservation photographer took it upon himself to capture more photographs of the animal, and recent observations suggest that there might be an alternative explanation for its distinct fur color.
Vishal Subramanyan, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, expressed his determination to track down this badger, noting that while its coloration was unusual, it did not appear to be typical leucism to him. After spending days keeping a watchful eye on the badger, Subramanyan managed to capture clear images revealing a reddish hue in its fur that was not readily apparent in earlier pictures.
This unique reddish tint suggests that the badger, whose gender remains unknown, may actually be experiencing erythrism, a rare condition that manifests as a white coat with rusty undertones, according to Ted Stankowich, an evolutionary ecology professor at California State University, Long Beach.
Stankowich, an expert on mustelids that include badgers, minks, and weasels, attested to the extraordinary nature of this particular genetic mutation. He mentioned that only two other cases of erythrism in North American badgers have been documented to date, with the creatures primarily found in grasslands spanning the western and central regions of the U.S., Canada, and northern Mexico.
Erythrism, a genetic anomaly leading to an increased production of red pigmentation in typically black areas of fur or skin like the badger’s facial stripes, has been observed in various species including reef manta rays, leopards, and European polecats.
The absence of the traditional black-and-white facial markings in the discovered badger could potentially make it more vulnerable to predators,