The brightly colored slug we covered last week has National Geographic readers tickled pink.
Luckily for you, there are several more rosy-colored creatures found in nature. Some are supposed to be pink, while others get their hue from genetic mutations. Check out our roundup of pink animals—and hold the rose-colored glasses.
In 2010, a young, rosy-hued hippo was spotted along the banks of Kenya‘s Mara River. The odd-looking animal has a genetic condition called leucism, which occurs when the skin produces less pigment than usual, said Joshua Charlton, assistant curator of mammals at the Bronx Zoo in New York City, in an interview at the time.
Though most leucistic animals are otherwise normal, they tend to be at an evolutionary disadvantage, Charlton noted.
“In many species this [disadvantage] is due to a lack of camouflage, but in the hippo’s case, the lack of pigmentation can be problematic when it comes to protection from the sun,” he said.
National Geographic Explorer Victoria Hillman recently got a surprise when she came across six young pink grasshoppers at her fieldwork site in Romania‘s Eastern Carpathian Mountains.
The “funky individuals” are likely a rare version of the common meadow grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus, Hillman, research director for the Transylvanian Wildlife Project, wrote on the Explorers Journal blog (with the awesome headline “The Pink Grasshopper—No, It’s Not a Cocktail“).
“It is called erythrism, an unusual and little-understood genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene similar to that which affects albino animals,” she wrote.
Sadly, these rosy youngsters “rarely make it to adulthood, as they are easily picked off by predators as they are so conspicuous against the green foliage.”
Even so, Hillman plans to check back on the pink grasshoppers in coming weeks to see how they’re faring.
The pink handfish, one of nine species described in a 2010 study, uses its fins to walk, rather than swim, along the ocean floor.A pink handfish described in 2010. Photograph courtesy Karen Gowlett-Holmes
Few specimens of the elusive four-inch (ten-centimeter) pink handfish have ever been found. And all of the world’s 14 known species of handfish are found only in shallow, coastal waters off southeastern Australia.
Overall the fish are poorly studied and little is known about their biology or behavior.
There’s even a real-life Pink Panther. In 2012, a male African leopard with a strawberry-colored coat was spotted in South Africa‘s Madikwe Game Reserve (map).
Panthera President Luke Hunter said in 2012 that he suspects the pale leopard has erythrism—like the grasshoppers—which may have caused either an overproduction of red pigments or an underproduction of dark pigments in the leopard’s coat.
The strawberry leopard seems healthy and likely suffers no ill consequences from his pinkish hue, Hunter said: “He’s obviously a successful animal.” (See more African leopard pictures in National Geographic magazine.)
The pink Typhochlaena amma is one of five tarantula species announced in 2012. The newfound species are the smallest tree-dwelling tarantulas so far discovered, at only 2 to 3 centimeters (20 to 30 millimeters) long.
Tell us—what other pink critters have you come across?