AS RARE as the gemstone it was named after, mostly pigment-free saltwater crocodile Pearl has been described as ''doubly lucky'' for having survived at all.
The male leucistic crocodile was born at Crocodylus Park in Darwin in February with a birth defect that is fatal for most hatchlings.
The park's chief scientist, Charlie Manolis, said the crocodile, which, unlike an albino, has some pigment, mostly visible in its black spots, was hatched with yolk hanging out of its egg.
''Normally hatchlings like that would be euthanised, as they are prone to infection,'' Mr Manolis said.
''He's doubly lucky: lucky to have this sort of rare colouration, as maybe one in 20,000 crocodiles are born with it and lucky to have survived, too.
''My staff members had noticed his colouring and one of them took him home to give him some tender loving care and kept him in a tank with all the best conditions.
''It was such a cute crocodile that the girl initially looking after it assumed it was a female and the name has stuck.''
Mr Manolis said the crocodile is still of a ''holdable'' size, at about 60 centimetres long.
''He's got quite a calm disposition and with the school holidays starting, children visiting the park will have a chance to handle him.''