Like something out of an enchanting fairytale, a baby reindeer with snow-white fur popped out on an icy plain in Norway and photographer Mads Nordsveen was there to capture him for the rest of the world to see . This happened in December 2018, and the photos are still giving us chills because this animal is so beautiful and rare it’s believed in some places to be a mythical creature.
I can’t be the only one who often thinks reindeer (caribou in North America) are magical and therefore, unreal. It’s so easy to associate these beautiful, gentle creatures with the whole idea of Christmas and the magical nature of Santa. Well, that’s until one pops out of the back forest and comes snooping about for a snack in your backyard.
Speaking to Caters News, Nordsveen, 24, explained that the animal was so white that it was almost completely camouflaged by the snow . However, the little thing appeared to be at ease in his terrain, making no move to run or hide and eventually posing his cute, wobbly legs for a picture.
“I was walking in the mountains looking for nice landscapes for my travel photography when out of nowhere I saw this wonderful little creature,” Nordsveen said “He came very close to me and we looked at each other straight in the eyes. He was quite relaxed when he saw that I was calm and friendly.”
A stroke of luck on a wintery morning
In some Scandinavian traditions and Norwegian folklore, spotting a white reindeer is a sign of good luck and blessing.
Nordsveen described his encounter with the sweet creature as “very magical” and ” a fairytale moment”.
“He behaved as if he was posing for my photos… he was very curious and funny, like a little explorer,” the photographer said. “He came very close to me, and we looked at each other straight in the eyes. After some minutes the mother of the white deer came out of trees just behind. It walked around for some minutes before running back to its mother.”
Nordsveen shared the beautiful photos on Instagram and they’ve been liked over 62,000 times. People were thankful he was there to capture the amazing animal. We occasionally need to see such adorable sights for sore eyes.
All Image Credits: Mads via Instagram
The mystery behind white reindeer
Firstly, they are very real and not creatures of ancient magic.
A white reindeer’s appearance can be caused by one of two genetic mutations – leucism and albinism. Leucistic reindeer, also called piebald, are born with a genetic mutation that strips their fur of its grey or brown pigment. They could either be born completely or partially white, sometimes with pigmented patches. They have traces of dark pigments in their eyes, hooves, and antlers, topped with the sweetest red noses you could ever see. On the other hand, albino reindeer are always born with pink eyes and completely white fur and hooves.
Nordsveen’s little reindeer is a leucistic one since his eyes and antlers are pigmented. This unique condition enables them to blend naturally into the snowy habitat, and as Nordsveen observed, the white deer could almost disappear into the snow.
The white reindeer’s condition comes with a host of birth defects including tweeted spines, blindness, and hunched backs. Out in the wild, they struggle desperately to survive, and aside from their physical limitations, the deer are so white they have trouble hiding in non-snowy terrain.
“The piebald condition is frequently associated with other harmful physical conditions, including skeletal deformities,” says the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries . “Piebald deer are rare, typically occurring at less than 1 percent of the population. Piebald deer can be more common on a local basis, especially in areas where deer hunters protect them.”
- Rare white reindeer calf spotted on camera in Norway. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46442538 Retrieved 13-08-2020
- Jamie Smith. Extremely rare white baby reindeer almost disappears into the snowy background of magical wintry snaps. Caters News. https://www.catersnews.com/stories/animals/extremely-rare-white-baby-reindeer-almost-disappears-into-the-snowy-background-of-magical-wintry-snaps/ Retrieved 13-08-2020
- Bryan Mckenzie. Abnormal white deer struggle to survive in Virginia wild. AP News. https://apnews.com/b29a88133b3643b0964e086a2d5d2710/Abnormal-white-deer-struggle-to-survive-in-Virginia-wild Retrieved 13-08-2020
- Piebaldism. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/veterinary-science-and-veterinary-medicine/piebaldism Retrieved 13-08-2020