White Squirrels of Rochester
As a native New Yorker, I’ve seen my share of squirrels. Our standard Sciuridae is the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and while most of these rambunctious rodents are indeed gray, they sometimes come in other flavors. The Bronx was beset by hordes of Black Squirrels, melanistic members of this common species. So black squirrels have never been a surprise to me. But when I moved to Rochester, I quickly encountered another iteration of the Eastern Gray: the white squirrel!
Yes, the mythical white squirrel does indeed exist. In fact, it lives in my front lawn! We’ve got at least two of these ghostly nut-gobblers scrambling from tree to neighborhood tree.
Those of you acquainted with albinism have already realized that this squirrel lacks the utter absence of pigment and pink eyes that typically marks albino mammals. Instead, it is likely that these squirrels are leucistic. Whatever they are, white squirrels are just as eager to assault my bird feeders as their gray kin.
(This post was first published in February 2009, but we can’t bear hiding something this good in the archives. And Mike still sees white squirrels nearly every day!)