The squirrel is my power animal, so when I stumbled across this video of an albino squirrel I was super excited! Squirrels are interesting busy little creatures that I have always thought to be pretty fascinating. Squirrels can come in a variety of colors, although I am really only accustomed to seeing the brown and gray variety. The white squirrel is pretty awesome, and I it would grab anyone’s attention.
There are two known species of the white squirrel and they are only found in Asia, so you if you spot a white squirrel in North American you are truly seeing something special and unique. Most of the white squirrels found in North America are really just the simple eastern grey squirrel with a genetic color variant.
There are two types of phenomena that can cause the squirrel to turn white; albinism and leucism. In albinism there is little or no melanin produced, this causes the squirrel to have no color pigmentation in their coat. Leucism involves partial loss in pigmentation, which will cause the squirrel to have white, pale, or patchy coloration.
How can you tell the difference? The answer is in the eyes. If the squirrel has red eyes they are albino. In albinism the loss of pigmentation also affects the eyes; this makes them appear red in color. If the squirrel is white but has black eyes you can bet they have leucism.
White squirrels are not only rare due to the nature of their condition but due to the fact that they are often easy victims for predators. Their white fur and lack of camouflage causes them to stick out like a soar thumb, which makes them easy targets. They tend to flourish in large cities where there are less predators, and are protected by the local residents.
The highest numbers of white squirrels are found in Brevard, NC where they are considered a prized commodity. However, the eastern grey squirrel is a common species, so you have the possibility of spotting the rare white squirrel anywhere in the animals native habitat. A good reminder to take your camera everywhere you go, because you never know what may cross your path.