An albino cub was born in a family of brown swamp beavers at the Ertil museum “Village of the 17th-19th Centuries” in the Voronezh Region. This was told to the RIA Voronezh correspondent told by the head of the ethno-museum Vladimir Brezhnev. Such beavers (they are also called nutria or coypu) have been bred in the open-air museum for four years. There are now 37 of them living there.

– Swamp beavers have a round tail, and they live in holes instead of huts as regular beavers do, – Vladimir Brezhnev explained. – They eat cane, grass, grain. Tourists love to feed them carrots and bread. For four years, only cubs of brown color have been born. Therefore, when an albino was born three months ago, I was very surprised. By the way, his three brothers are brown like his parents.

In a conversation with the correspondent of RIA Voronezh, the head of the Scientific Department of the Voronezh Reserve, candidate of biological sciences Natalya Romashova named two possible reasons for the appearance of a baby of such an unusual color.

– This may be a manifestation of genetic heredity. In connection with captive breeding, nutria bred a lot of color variations of fur, from white-cream to golden-brown-black. These colors are genetically fixed in the breed. Therefore, different color shades of fur may appear in the litter, – said Natalya Romashova.

The second possible reason is the manifestation of partial albinism. In this case, the skin and hair on the body are absolutely snow-white, and the tail, legs, and muzzle are colored in the usual way. According to the scientist, a mutation of albinism in rodents manifests itself more often than in other species of mammals.

– The lack of color is caused by a gene that does not allow the body to produce melanins – coloring pigments. In a normal body, they should be contained in the skin, hair, feathers, hair, and retina. The skin of such animals is very sensitive to sunlight, so such animals most often hide in the afternoon. At the same time, they usually have problems with vision and hearing. Albinos throughout life are characterized by reduced vitality and often weakened immunity, which makes them easy prey for infections. In the wild, they are rejected by natural selection, – the candidate of biological sciences explained.

By the way, purely white cubs have never been born from nutria in the Voronezh Zoo.

– We now have six individuals living here. Babies of different colors were once born from one couple: red, black, gray, and chocolate, but there were no albinos, – said Alyona Goryushkina, an employee of the Voronezh Zoo.

RIA Voronezh note for information

Nutria, or coypu, or swamp beaver, is a mammal of the rodent order, the only species of the nutria family (Myocastoridae). Nutria lead a near-water lifestyle, they are secretive and active at night. In the wild, they live along the shores of bodies of water with stagnant or low-flowing water, avoiding continuous forests and highlands. Warm fur allows nutria to endure up to -35 degrees, but the animal is not adapted for life in a cold climate, therefore it often needs human protection. In the wild, swamp beavers feed mainly on plant foods (rhizomes, stems, reed leaves, cattail, reeds, water lilies); given the lack of it, they can eat leeches and mollusks. Nutria’s lifestyle is similar to that of Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) (common beaver, river beaver). But this is a completely different family in the rodent order.