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Seabrook Wildlife: Piebald Deer

Posted 09/02/2021


Piebald Deer on Seabrook Island

Have you ever seen a deer with white spots on Seabrook Island, SC? It may not look like Bambi, and you probably rubbed your eyes a bit wondering if you needed to grab your glasses for a better view. 

If so, you’ve actually laid eyes on a rare Piebald deer, which accounts for less than 2% of the entire deer population! Lucky for us, this animal loves to explore our island regularly. 

Scientific name: Odocoileus virginianus

About the Species

What is Piebaldism?

Also known as the Calico deer, this beautiful animal has what’s called piebaldism — a rare genetic condition caused by the absence of pigmentation in the skin. Because of this condition, these deer can be referred to as bald or mixed up. 

Piebaldism results in unpigmented patches on a pigmented background (think the classic black and white cow print). The word piebald comes from pie, an old word for magpie, and bald, which previously meant spotted with white. If you’ve ever seen an American Paint Horse, a bald eagle, or a beagle, you’ve seen piebald coloring before.

Piebaldism vs Albinism

Though they’re often mistaken for partially Albino deer, the Piebald deer’s distinct hide comes from a separate recessive gene, which both parents must carry for the possibility of a piebald fawn. While Albino deer are often categorized by pink-tinged hooves, eyes, and noses, Piebald deer possess brown eyes and noses with black hooves.  

The gene that causes piebaldism also causes a variety of physical side effects that can hinder the animal’s quality of life, such as arched spines, and shorter, crooked legs. These side effects can range from mild to severe, and in some cases, the deer are unable to survive. 

Piebald Deer Population on Seabrook Island

Piebald deer are most frequently spotted peeking out of the trees, prancing around the golf course, or strolling through our nature trails. Seabrook Island’s beautiful golf courses have been named the Top Green (& Eco-Friendly) Golf Course in Charleston, SC by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, so it isn’t uncommon to discover a few furry friends enjoying the course while you play the day away!

Because we are a wildlife-friendly community, it’s important to learn the basics of wildlife safety here on Seabrook Island, SC. Many animals, including the Piebald deer, make themselves at home on Seabrook due to the emphasis that we place on maintaining the natural environment

Wildlife Safety on Seabrook

In their natural habitats, Piebald deer can be found in a wide variety of environments. They love both hidden forests and open plains — so it’s no wonder they love visiting us! 

Appreciation for the wildlife on Seabrook is one of our core values, and we strive to do so from a distance to keep ourselves and our furry friends safe. We’ve compiled a list of  Seabrook Island’s Beach Rules to ensure that we are safely enjoying the presence of animals on our beaches.  

To continue to protect our certified sustainable community, keep these wildlife guidelines in mind:

  •  Give the wildlife space. Frequent human presence can disturb our wild animals, even when they’re accustomed to the island. Give them space so that they don’t feel threatened – if they move or run away from you, you may be too close.
  • Use artificial light sparingly. Try to avoid flash photography to ensure the safety of our animals here on Seabrook. This can hinder animals’ vision if encountered within close proximity. 
  • Follow our dog restriction rules. Seabrook Island Beach has restricted, limited, and general areas for dogs. Check out the details here.
  • Keep it clean! Never leave trash behind. Clean up after yourself, your pets, and leave everything exactly how you found it.

Have you seen any wildlife on Seabrook Island?

If you spot any, including the magnificent Piebald deer, be sure to take a photo and share it with us using our Wildlife Sighting Form!


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