An incredibly rare Indian hawksbill turtle with albinism with an almost white shell and stunning pink eyes has been discovered near a lake in southern India.
As reported in the journal Reptiles & Amphibians, the young specimen was spotted by wildlife photographers Manoj Kumar Vittapu and Shravan Kumar Poshetty in the Sirinepally forest area, located in Nizamabad district, Telangana. Although measuring only 4 centimeters by 3 centimeters, the baby turtle caught the couple’s attention due to its complete lack of pigment. They forwarded their photos of the turtle to Buddi Laxmi Narayana, curator at Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad, who confirmed it was a rare example of an albino Indian scaly turtle.
Albinism is a rare genetic mutation that causes the skin, hair, or eyes to lack pigmentation, not to be confused with leucism, which can cause pale pigmentation. People with this inherited condition have a recessive genetic variant that disables the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin, eyes and hair its color. The reduction in the amount of melanin can also lead to vision problems.
The Indian Scaled Turtle, also known by the scientific name “Lissemys punctata”, is found in rivers and lakes in parts of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Burma. If a few albino turtles of this species have already been observed in history, this is the first of this type discovered in this region of India. Unfortunately, the turtle’s exceptional appearance may hamper its chances of survival in the wild. Not only could she succumb to health issues, but she will also be easily spotted by predators because she has no camouflage.
Nevertheless, let’s hope that this beautiful specimen can reach adulthood!