Your Guide to Your First Pet Albino Budgie
Snowflakes and Buttercups
The word “albino” conjures up the image of a white animal with reddish eyes. This is quite correct. With budgies, albinism manifests as one would expect of this condition. The bird's entire plumage is white; they also have pink legs and a pink cere (nose band that contains the nostrils), and the eyes appear markedly red. This variety is caused by the Ino gene, which removes melanin—the substance responsible for dark colours.
Interestingly, albinos are not the only budgies affected by the Ino gene. A second group is referred to as the lutino. A lutino is a green series variety masked by Ino. Inherently, it should have been a green bird but thanks to the gene, the bird has a rich, buttercup yellow body. Similar to the albino, the legs and cere are pink, and the bird has striking eyes.
The Question of Gender
As a point of interest, albinism shows up differently in the two genders. A bird can only carry a single or double copy of the gene. All females, whether they have one or two copies of the gene, will visibly show the condition. Males, on the other hand, must have two copies in order to appear as an albino. Should they only have one, their albinism stays hidden beneath another colour. This makes the cock a “split” or an individual hiding a colour.
Budgies without the Ino gene display normal gender differences. The cocks have vivid blue ceres and legs. Hens can display a variety of shades in the spectrum of white, pink, beige and brown. Their legs are usually pink or something close to it. The problem with albinos is that both genders show feminine colours. Male albinos cannot develop the distinctive blue of the masculine budgie. Should you need to identify your albino's gender and none are putting down a clutch, you'd need expert help such as a vet or a genetic test.
The Impact of Popularity
There's no doubt about the fact that budgie lovers adore the albino variety. The porcelain white body, the intriguing depths to those gem-red eyes. Add looks to the endearing personality of all budgies and you've got a hit on your hands. Unfortunately, this kind of popularity and genes don't mix. It's easy to breed albinos —just put two together (if you can pick the males and females apart, that is). They will produce a full clutch of white chicks with pink eyes.
The problem is that albinos tend to be smaller and sometimes have feather problems. Continuing to breed albinos to each other down a single family line, without the odd-coloured partner, may produce the popular bird but compromises the integrity of this variety.
Caring for Your Budgie
The good news is that caring for an albino budgie is no different from any other. They don't have the skin or vision problems associated with the condition in other species, including humans. Some of these birds are even regular sized and have perfect plumage. Good care can be as simple as proper environment, feeding and stimulation.
Budgies are adaptable, but need space and friendship. Small cages tend to produce depressed pets that lead shorter lives. A cage must also have safe toys to stimulate the budgie's fitness and mental sharpness. This parakeet is exceptionally intelligent and needs fun challenges like puzzles as well as a social life with its owner and other budgies. Ideally, a budgie must not be kept on its own. They are hardwired to be highly social.
Additional Care Tips
- Always make sure the budgies are not kept in a place where there's a draft, high humidity, extreme temperatures or too much noise.
- Provide supplements. The options here are nearly limitless and can be purchased as raw items (cuttlefish bone) or toy-like nibbles that double as iodine and mineral sources.
- Don't subject a budgie to a diet that only give seeds. This shortens your pet's life in terms of years. They also need fresh greens, fruit and vegetables. Always research a new food before giving it to your pet; not all plant matter is safe for budgies.
- Consider using only bottled water. Tap water is treated with chemicals that can have harmful effects on the long-term health of a budgie.
- Don't line the bottom of the cage with newspaper. Budgies are curious and love to tear stuff. Unfortunately, wet pieces of paper represent a lethal choking hazard.
- Keep the cage out of direct sunlight and away from locations where predators such as cats and shrikes can reach the budgies.
- Do everything possible not to cause stress or fear; for example, use slow movements during cage cleaning and physical handling.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit