Home Wildlife Gardening Spotting White Squirrels: A Guide to Leucism, Albinism, and Rare Wildlife Sightings

Spotting White Squirrels: A Guide to Leucism, Albinism, and Rare Wildlife Sightings

by Gregory
3 minutes read

White Squirrels: A Rare Sight to Behold

What Makes Squirrels White?

Have you ever wondered why some squirrels are white instead of the usual gray or brown? The answer lies in a genetic trait called leucism. Leucism is like a recessive gene that causes a reduction in pigment, the stuff that gives animals their color. This means that leucistic squirrels have less pigment than their normal-colored counterparts.

Leucism vs. Albinism

Many people mistake leucistic squirrels for albino squirrels, but there’s a key difference. Albino animals lack a specific pigment called melanin, which results in their pure white fur and reddish eyes. Leucistic squirrels, on the other hand, have reduced levels of all types of pigment, so their fur can range from dirty white to white with brown patches.

Identifying Leucistic Squirrels

Spotting a leucistic squirrel is a real treat. Here’s how to tell them apart:

  • White fur: This is the most obvious sign of leucism.
  • Varying shades of white: Leucistic squirrels may have pure white fur, or they may have patches of brown or gray.
  • Normal-colored eyes: Unlike albino squirrels, leucistic squirrels have normal-colored eyes.

White Squirrels in the U.S.

Certain areas in the eastern United States are home to larger populations of white squirrels. These include:

  • Florida Keys
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Kenton, Tennessee
  • Marionville, Missouri

Olney, Illinois: A Haven for Albino Squirrels

Olney, Illinois, is famous for its protected population of albino eastern gray squirrels. The story began over 100 years ago when two albino squirrel pups were discovered and raised by a local resident. Today, the town boasts a thriving albino squirrel population, which is protected by laws that ban free-roaming dogs and cats.

Leucistic Squirrels in Your Garden

If you’re lucky, you may spot leucistic squirrels in your own backyard or local park. Keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures, especially during walks or gardening sessions.

Additional Information

  • Leucism can affect other animals besides squirrels, including foxes, rabbits, and even humans.
  • The exact cause of leucism is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to genetic mutations.
  • White squirrels are more vulnerable to predators due to their lack of camouflage.
  • Albino squirrels are even rarer than leucistic squirrels because they lack all pigment.
  • White squirrels make for beautiful and unique wildlife sightings.

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