DeYoung Zoo in Wallace, MI has many animals that people can interact with. This is a whitetail deer that is albino. In mammals, albinism occurs when an individual inherits one or more mutated genes from both parents that interfere with the body's production of melanin, the main pigment that determines the color of skin, fur, and eyes. He loves attention and eating carrots. His antlers are in full velvet.Underneath this furry membrane, the antlers are supplied by a very rich supply of blood and nutrients from veins that run on the outside of the antlers and back down to the base.
During the growing stages, antlers are high in water and blood content and low in dry matter. The dry matter at this stage is around 80% protein and 20% phosphorous and calcium. Conversely, in the hardened stage, antlers are about 60% phosphorous and calcium and 40% protein. While in the velvet stages, antlers feel alive and warm to the touch because of all the activity taking place within. With the days of late summer getting shorter, testosterone levels begin to rise and the growth cycle begins to slow down initiating the process of hardening or mineralizing of the antlers. So how does the velvet come off? The velvet ceases to be fed by blood by the formation of what some call the base or the burr on the antler. When the buck grows this burr at the end of the antler cycle, it puts a “kink in the hose” so to speak, cutting off the blood supply to the velvet.
In as little as a few hours, the drying velvet is rubbed off on trees and bushes the buck is left with a blood stained rack that he will continue to polish for several days. I think many early fall rubs that are seen are areas where bucks use saplings and bushes to scrub the drying velvet from their newly hardened set of antlers. It can also be eaten off by other deer or birds and any velvet that does hit the forest floor is quickly scavenged by mice and other critters because of its high nutrient content. The animal world is truly amazing. To be able to be up close and personal with one of God's creatures is a blessing.