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An albino frog is any frog which lacks a pigment called melanin. Considered a genetic defect, albinism can occur in any frog species, as well as most animals. Caused by a recessive gene, this defect is rarely seen in nature but is found more frequently in captive-bred frogs. Although the appearance of an albino frog is altered, this amphibian will be otherwise identical to its non-albino counterpart.
Albinism is a congenital defect resulting from an animal having two recessive alleles that, when paired, inhibit the enzyme which produces melanin. Melanin is responsible for producing pigment in most animals, so this defect impairs any pigment production. Since the gene is recessive, animals with normal coloring may be carriers for albinism without exhibiting any traits. This also means the defect can be produced intentionally by breeding two albino animals.
Usually solid white, albino frogs normally have a pinkish undertone. Sometimes, however, they may have a yellowish coloring instead. Since their irises also lack the proper pigments, each retina's blood vessels can be seen through each iris. Thus, albino frogs appear to have red or pink eyes. This lack of pigment also makes the eyes sensitive to light.
Other than the lack of pigment, these frogs have no serious health issues. Although a wild albino frog has a shorter average lifespan that a wild non-albino frog, captive albinos and non-albinos live the same length of time. In the wild, albinos lack the camouflage that protects normally colored frogs from predators. Therefore, their chances of being spotted and eaten by a predator is greatly increased.
Since a frog's coloring is often one of the main species identifiers, it is often hard to tell the species of an albino frog if it is not already known. Albino frogs do occur in nature but are much more frequently seen in captivity. These frogs are particularly popular in the pet trade since their lack of coloring gives them a unique and unusual appearance.
One of the most popular albino frogs in the pet trade is the African clawed albino frog. A strictly aquatic frog, the African clawed albino is extremely easy to care for and can be kept in an aquarium with freshwater fish. Since frogs are predators, fish should be larger than the frog can easily consume. African clawed frogs are known to eat guppies, but can exist on shrimp and bloodworms. They are also one of few frogs that do not require live food.