Have you ever seen a white squirrel? I haven’t so when I spotted one in the Company Gardens here in Cape Town I ended up stalking it for a while until I could capture it on film. At first I thought it could be a rat and got quite excited when I realized it was definitely a squirrel!!
The little fellow was quite shy and although its white contrasts with the trees he was quite difficult to capture. As soon as I got home I read up all about white and albino squirrels.
There are a few types of genetic aberrations that cause the white coats. The first is albinism, caused by a mutation on a gene that codes for pigmentation. Albinos have red eyes. The other is a white morph, caused by a different gene. It is a naturally occurring trait of eastern grey squirrels that is very, very rare.
I am sure that the white squirrel I came across today is an albino squirrel as its eyes were actually red. There goes my spotting of a super rare white squirrel.
It’s still somewhat rare to see a white squirrel as predators to squirrels such as hawks really like it when their prey is highlighted white!
There is actually an Albino Squirrel Preservation Society (ASPS) which is an international collegiate organization dedicated to “fostering compassion and goodwill” toward albino squirrels. The ASPS was founded in April 2001 at the University of Texas at Austin. The first ASPS chapter was created to celebrate a longstanding legend on campus, which states that seeing an albino squirrel before a test is good luck (although none of the white squirrels on campus were technically albino). In less than a year, the UT Austin chapter became one of the largest official student organizations in the University’s history.
Its good to know that someone out there are looking out for these little white creatures.