An elusive predator with a rare and eye-catching coat was recently spotted near the California coast, a photo shows.
David Kramer, a photographer, only had time to pull out his cellphone and snap a quick picture when the creature unexpectedly appeared along a trail at Point Reyes National Seashore, the park said in a Nov. 27 Facebook post.
It was a badger, the photo shows, with white-and-blond fur instead of black-and-white.
Badgers are fierce, powerfully built and very willing to defend themselves — but many found themselves wishing they could give the Creamsicle-colored critter a hug.
“Filing this under ‘things I have an urge to snuggle, which would be a terrible idea to snuggle,’” one commenter said.
“I’m sure potentially vicious, but also very cute,” said another.
At first the badger might seem to be albino, but it has leucism, the post said, a genetic mutation that causes partial loss of pigment in fur, feathers or skin, resulting in a lighter coloration.
Leucistic animals typically have normal eye coloration for their species, unlike albinos, which have pink or red eyes and poor eyesight, experts say.
“I have worked here for over 25 years and have never heard of a leucistic or erythristic badger being seen here,” David Press, a wildlife ecologist at the national seashore, told The Mercury News.
Erythrism is another type of genetic mutation that can affect an animal’s coloration.
“There have also been some suggestions that this could be an erythristic animal, in which fur or skin can have an unusual reddish pigment to it,” Press told the outlet. “In retrospect, we don’t know for sure whether the animal is leucistic or erythristic, but there is no question that this is a unique individual!”