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White Wildlife, part 2 – A Ghostly Figure in the Woods.

November 16, 2013

Leucism

White Squirrel (Gray Squirrel)

Last week, I posted about a white hummingbird I saw recently.  This week, we’ll be looking at another white critter I saw a month ago.

I was out at Blendon Woods Metro Park in early October, observing the tail end (so to speak) of the autumn warbler migration.  I was finishing up the afternoon at the nature center, looking for birds in and around the feeders and the artificial stream there, when something ghostly caught my eye.

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It’s hard to miss a white creature against a dark background- I bet many leucistic animals don’t live long lives.  Leucism is a recessive genetic trait marked by the absence of pigment in fur or feathers, somewhat resembling albinism.  This leucistic animal was an Eastern Gray Squirrel, a very common tree squirrel in Ohio.  This beautiful creature had an acorn in its mouth, running along through the leaves.  It crossed the artificial stream with graceful leaps-

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I was very happy to get photos of this squirrel.  I imagine it’s harder work staying alive when you are more easily spotted due to your coloration.

Leucistic animals are pretty rare, but are very easy to notice when you do see them 🙂  There are several locations around the country that pride themselves on having such ‘white squirrels’ in their area.  For instance, in Brevard, North Carolina, a local population there apparently descended from a pair that escaped from an overturned circus truck in 1949.  Now, up to 27% of their Gray Squirrels are white!

Leucistic wildlife is typically rare, so enjoy it when you do see it.  Always have a camera handy!

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21 Comments leave one →
  1. November 16, 2013 11:25 pm

    Pretty cool, I’ve seen one white squirrel in all the time that I have spent in the woods, and didn’t have a camera with me.

    • November 16, 2013 11:51 pm

      I hate when that happens! Sometimes it’s a pain to always have a camera, but I always regret it when I don’t have one.

  2. November 17, 2013 10:14 am

    Wonderful photos of this elusive creature! We often see completely black squirrels here. The gray squirrels don’t seem to like them, perhaps too different? and give them a hard time. I love them, they are so beautiful, as are the white ones. Thanks for sharing these photos, Tracy, it gives me something new to look for!

    • November 18, 2013 1:20 pm

      Thanks Lynn- it does make one wonder what the typical ‘gray’ squirrels think of them.

  3. November 17, 2013 11:38 am

    In times gone by, I am sure that squirrel would have been thought to have some kind of magical properties! What a lovely sighting, and he is really beautiful. Does he have any predators in that neck of the woods (eagles, hawks etc?)

    • November 18, 2013 1:21 pm

      I’m sure that they were seen as magical omens in the past! There are hawks and coyotes in this area, so this squirrel will have to be careful…

  4. November 17, 2013 11:52 am

    I really enjoyed the photos. A beautiful animal. Thanks.

  5. November 17, 2013 4:50 pm

    Oh my goodness, I’ve never seen a white squirrel! Cool beans. Margie

  6. November 18, 2013 8:55 am

    What a beautiful little animal!

  7. mary permalink
    November 18, 2013 2:42 pm

    We have one on my street! S/he has been there for years. Goes back and forth between Torrence and Piedmont in Clintonville, where the residents are all very protective of the little guy. Long may he reign!

    • November 18, 2013 3:24 pm

      That’s awesome, Mary! And it’s been around for years, too!

      I remember reading about a white squirrel at OSU years ago in the Columbus Dispatch. I think a hawk got it though 😦

  8. November 19, 2013 9:00 pm

    What a beautiful little creature! Now all he needs is snow for the perfect camouflage! Or sand. 🙂

  9. November 22, 2013 7:23 pm

    It is a beautiful critter but is probably an ugly duckling in the squirrel’s world. I’ve always wanted to see a black squirrel too.

  10. November 25, 2013 6:35 pm

    It is pretty, but I would think being white would make it an easy target.

  11. November 30, 2013 10:21 pm

    Amazing pictures!

  12. Andrea permalink
    October 11, 2015 7:43 pm

    We saw the white squirrel today at dusk along the Overlook Trail

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