Albinism is the congenital absence of any pigmentation or colouration in an animal, plant, or person, resulting in white hair, feathers, scales and skin and pink eyes in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish and invertebrates as well. Varied use and interpretation of the terms mean that written reports of albinistic animals can be difficult to verify. Albinism can reduce the survivability of an animal; for example, it has been suggested that albino alligators have an average survival span of only 24 hours due to the lack of protection from UV radiation and their lack of camouflage to avoid predators. It is a common misconception that all albino animals have characteristic pink or red eyes (resulting from the lack of pigment in the iris allowing the blood vessels of the retina to be visible), however this is not the case for some forms of albinism. Familiar albino animals include in-bred strains of laboratory animals (rats, mice and rabbits), but populations of naturally occurring albino animals exist in the wild, e.g. Mexican cave tetra. Albinism is a well-recognized phenomenon in molluscs, both in the shell and in the soft parts. It has been claimed by some, e.g. that "albinism" can occur for a number of reasons aside from inheritance, including genetic mutations, diet, living conditions, age, disease, or injury. However, this is contrary to definitions where the condition is inherited.
Oculocutaneous albinism (OCA) is a clearly defined set of seven types of genetic mutations which reduce or completely prevent the synthesis of eumelanin or pheomelanin, resulting in reduced pigmentation. Type I oculocutaneous albinism (OCA1a) is the form most commonly recognised as 'albino' as this results in a complete absence of melanin in the skin, hair/fur/feathers, and pink pupils, however this has led many to assume that all albinos are pure white with pink pupils, which is not the case.In plants, albinism is characterised by partial or complete loss of chlorophyll pigments and incomplete differentiation of chloroplast membranes. Albinism in plants interferes with photosynthesis, which can reduce survivability. Some plant variations may have white flowers or other parts. However, these plants are not totally devoid of chlorophyll. Terms associated with this phenomenon are "hypochromia" and "albiflora".