Echidnas are the sea-salt-and-chocolate pancakes of the animal kingdom — they don’t entirely make sense at first, but are perfect nonetheless. These egg-laying mammals are already pretty bizarre, but new footage of a rare albino echidna has upped the weird —and cute — factors for these critters. A wildlife biologist tells Inverse that part of what makes this albino creature unique also makes it hard to find.
Recently, photographer Rosalind Wharton was walking with her partner in Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park when they spotted something resembling a spiky snowball. The floof in question turned out to be an all-white echidna, romping around in some leaves.
Albino echidnas have been spotted in the wild before, it’s still a pretty rare treat to see one in-person.
“Albinism occurs in many species, but we don’t see it very often because it is genetically recessive,” wildlife biologist Imogene Cancellare tells Inverse. “Unlike species with seasonal, all-white coat phases (like the snowshoe hare or ermine), albino species stand out to predators and are often removed from the population as a result.”
According to Cancellare, echidnas live in deserts and dry forests of Australia, Tasmania, and New Guinea. They mainly eat ants and termites, albeit somewhat awkwardly.
“They don’t really open their mouths,” Cancellare says. “Their gape is only about 5mm.”
It’s pretty hard to resist the allure of this dystopian beanie baby-looking critter. While it would be nice if this lovable weirdo could enjoy its newfound fame, it’s probably for the best that this innocent creature can never go on the internet, ever.
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