With hundreds of thousands of organisms produced every day, the possibility of some having a rare anomaly is unavoidable. In addition, some animals develop deformities later in life owing to a variety of factors. For example, young fish can become disoriented due to their immature brains and swim in circles for hours or days before dying. Or consider the case of whale calves who are abandoned by their mothers to face extreme temperatures and predators all alone. Many species of whales survive these beginnings in life only to be killed by ships or contaminated by oil spillings.
Some animals, such as humans, suffer from genetic disorders that cause severe problems during pregnancy or birth. Others are born with physical defects caused by environmental factors, such as chemicals in drinking water or radiation from nuclear power plants. Still others are born with special abilities or behaviors that make them vulnerable to attack by other animals. This article focuses on those animals that are born with abnormal traits that no longer serve any useful purpose.
Animals range in size from tiny insects to giant mammals. They come in an incredible array of shapes and colors. Some are familiar to most people; others live deep in the forests or under the sea. No two animals are exactly alike, which means they have different ways of adapting to their environments.
Despite the fact that every genetic abnormality can arise in any animal, several have only been reported in one family or breed. Remembering all of these illnesses might be a difficult, near-impossible endeavor for a small animal practitioner. Chromosome changes or gene mutations cause genetic disorders. Animals with genetic disorders will usually not survive long enough to come to the attention of veterinarians. However, genetic diseases can also appear without being passed on to offspring; for example, a mother can develop cancer due to a genetic defect. Also, environmental factors can play a role in causing genetic defects; for example, radiation can change the DNA of cells, causing them to become malignant (cancerous).
Animals can also be born with genetic disorders. These problems may not be obvious at first glance and often lead to death before adulthood is reached. For example, many large dogs have short legs due to a condition called hypoplasia. The bones in their lower limbs are developed but lack muscle mass to support their weight. These animals are in pain and often require surgery to alleviate the problem. Genetic disorders can also affect behavior, such as learning abilities or temperament. Some animals are born with abnormal colors in their hair or skin, which are known as pigmentations. These may or may not be harmful depending on the color involved. For example, black pigs are born with black hair and skin, while white pigs are born with white hair and skin.
We've compiled a list of some of the most surprising animal mutations: