Albino Parakeets as Pets (Health Problems, Cost and Lifespan)

Albino Parakeet

Albino parakeets have all white feathers with pink or red eyes and pink feet. This unique coloring is due to a rare genetic mutation in parakeets known as the “Ino” (short for Albino) gene which removes all dark pigmentation from their plumage and skin, leaving behind pure white feathers. Albinos also possess red eyes due to a lack of melanin that would normally be responsible for black eyes in most parakeets.

The unique look of an Albino parakeet can make them very popular pets among bird lovers. If you have your heart set on one as your first parakeet just be aware that their rarity puts them at a higher price than most. Other than this, Albino parakeets require the same level of care and commitment as other types. Read on to learn about their breeding, lifespan, and more.

What is an Albino Parakeet?

While regular budgies are vibrant green, albino budgies are unique with their pure white color.

Physical Traits

  • Pure White Body – Their feathers are pure white, lacking the yellow and green pigments found in regular budgies.
  • Pink or Red Eyes – Another sign is their pink or red eyes, as their iris does not have dark melanin.
  • Pale Beak & Feet – Albino budgies have pale yellow or white beaks and feet, unlike the black markings of regular budgies.

What Is Albinism?

Albinism is a genetic condition. Albinism occurs in birds that can’t produce enough melanin, which normally colors their feathers, skin, and eyes. This lack of melanin leads to their all-white appearance.

The Science Behind Albino Budgies

The gene for albinism is recessive. Budgies must receive two copies of the gene (one from each parent) to visually display the trait. Birds that carry one copy are known as “visual carriers” – they appear normal but can produce albinos if bred.

Proper Terminology

Though commonly called ‘albino parakeets’ or ‘albino budgerigars’, the correct term for these birds is ‘ino budgerigars‘.

‘Ino’ is derived from ‘isabel’, indicating a pale yellow shade. Correct terms help distinguish true albinism from the sex-linked gene causing the ino mutation in budgies.

Do Albino Budgies Have Health Problems?

Albino budgies or parakeets are no less healthy than other more colorful types. All parakeets are vulnerable to certain health issues such as lameness, frayed feathers, allergies, kidney disease, and reproductive tumors.

Some parrots with the Albino mutation have been reported to have eyesight issues, such as being sensitive to bright lights or struggling to bring things into focus, but this is not thought to be very common. As long as an Albino budgie has not been inbred or has a history of disease in its bloodline, they should be perfectly healthy birds – provided they are fed a well-balanced diet.

Are Albino Parakeets Rare?

True Albino parakeets are considered to be very rare, as are any parrot species with the “Ino” genetic mutation. Since birds can be easily bred for certain colors, most of the pure-white parakeets you come across will likely be bred from an albino pair, rather than a pure-born Albino.

How Do You Tell if an Albino Parakeet is a Boy or Girl?

It can be difficult to determine the sex of Albino parakeets because they both lack the pigmentation that make color characteristics obvious in other birds.

A very subtle sign can be in the coloring of their ‘cere’ (the fleshy covering above their beak where the nostrils are located) – both parakeet sexes have a pinkish-purple cere, though avian experts have noted that a female Albino’s cere can sometimes turn brown or white.

Also, male parakeets are generally more vocal than the female so you may be able to determine albino parakeet gender by their temperament. If in doubt, your local vet will have the answer (or the requisite DNA test!).

Are Albino Parakeets Blind?

No, it is a misconception that Albino parakeets are completely blind, based on the fact that Albinism in birds and mammals is often accompanied by vision problems. Albino parakeets simply may not see as clearly or in focus as other parakeets and may sometimes be sensitive to light.

How Much are Albino Parakeets Worth?

Due to their rarity, Albino parakeets can be priced much higher than more common color varieties, and certain breeders may price them as high as $200-300. However, you may come across some all-white parakeets at the pet store that cost no more than $25!

This is because the true worth of an Albino parakeet can depend on factors such as its age (young, hand-reared birds will be much costlier than adults), and whether or not the parakeet is a pure-born Albino due to genetic mutation or a commonly bred ‘white’ parakeet passed off as Albino.

How Long Do Albino Parakeets Live?

Like most parakeets, the Albino variety can live between 7-10 years on average. They may live longer than this if they are well cared for (provided with a balanced diet, adequate exercise, and regular vet check-ups to pre-empt the above-mentioned health conditions).

Can Albino Parakeets Breed?

Yes, Albino parakeets can breed just as well as any other parakeet pair if they share a close bond with their cage fellow. They will normally produce a clutch of 4-6 eggs of smaller than average white chicks with pink eyes.

Parakeet breeders commonly breed Albinos together, even though Albinos share a trait known as “suffusion” which – when bred to another Albino – results in a tint of blue/gray coloring where pigmentation would normally be on the chest and rump. Since the effect of breeding will not always result in a pure-white ‘Albino’ plumage, suffusion is often looked upon as a poor breeding quality.

How to Breed Albino Parakeets?

It’s important to note that Albinism is a recessive gene mutation, meaning it can easily be dominated by the typical coloration found in common parakeet genetics, so two Albinos will not necessarily produce fully Albino chicks.

If you’re interested in breeding Albino parakeets together, the following steps need to be considered:

  • Pair parakeets that are at least 1 year old (age of sexual maturity) and give them a roomy cage to share and become acclimatized to living in each other’s company. Provide each with adequate food, water, and their own ‘portion’ of the cage with puzzles and feeder toys.
  • Ensure their cage is kept clean and tidy for their well-being and the arrival of their eggs. Also, provide them with full-spectrum lighting to help them form Vitamin D metabolism.
  • Once you have established a comfortable environment for both parakeets to thrive, they may begin playing, singing to each other, and sharing a perch. These are signs they are receptive to mating, so you should add a nesting box in their cage.
  • Place a concave wooden block inside the nesting box to help the chicks develop naturally and avoid splayed legs. And be sure to clean the nesting box regularly once the chicks begin growing their feathers.

What Causes Albinism in Parakeets?

To understand what causes albinism specifically, it helps to first cover some basics about budgie genetic inheritance:

  • Budgies utilize the Z and W sex chromosome system. Males are ZZ, females ZW.
  • Many budgie trait genes have multiple alleles. Different versions can exist.
  • The albinism gene is sex-linked recessive. Its inheritance is affected by gender.

The Sex-Linked Albino Gene

The gene responsible for albinism in parakeets is sex-linked and recessive. What does this mean?

Sex-linked means the albinism allele is carried on the X sex chromosome in birds. Some key implications:

  • Females have 2 copies – As ZW, they inherit one X from each parent
  • Males only have 1 copy – As ZZ, they only inherit a single X chromosome

Recessive means two copies are needed to visually express albinism. Birds with just one copy appear normal but are carriers.

Inheritance Patterns

Due to the sex-linked nature, inheritance differs between male and female chicks:

Male Albino Budgies

As ZZ, they only inherit ONE X chromosome. Therefore, males just need that ONE recessive albino allele to display the trait.

Female Albino Budgies

As ZW, they inherit one X from each parent. Therefore, female budgies need TWO matching copies of the recessive albino version to visually appear albino.

Common Genetic Causes

Most albino parakeets occur due to:

  • Random spontaneous mutation -> passes to offspring
  • Carrier-to-carrier breeding -> 25% albino chicks

Rare causes can include intentional breeding, inbreeding of carriers, and questionable theories involving fluorescent egg light exposure.

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