Monday, October 17, 2016

Our Rare Little White Neighbors

Sunday's regional newspaper carried a headline: "Rare albino squirrel seen." The sighting was in a subdivision of Brighton, a suburban community northwest of Detroit.

The story said a representative of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources stated she was surprised to hear of an albino squirrel being seen. The albinos result from an unusual genetic defect. The DNR spokesperson said the defect is so rare that the state doesn't even have a record of sightings. In addition to a low birth rate, predators easily spot the white fur of  babies and few albinos live to become adults.

We were a bit surprised to see the newspaper headline. About eight years ago, beautiful wife Sandy spotted an albino squirrel racing through our side yard and into the woods. About two years ago, a woman in our community about a quarter mile from us photographed an albino in her yard. Perhaps they are a bit more common in the western part of the state than in the east.
 
  Our neighbor's photo was blurred, but the color clearly was white
Making squirrel watching interesting for us are many resident black squirrels, another subgroup of fox squirrels and the eastern gray squirrel. The blacks are rare in parts of the U.S., but quite common in woods near us and elsewhere in North America. We guesstimate that about as many blacks as grays raid our bird feeders and frolic in the woods behind our house.

Our black and gray squirrels get along very well, and we presume the only problems the occasional albinos have are with predators. Perhaps some Americans who can't seem to accept neighbors of different colors could take a lesson from our furry friends.

8 comments:

Tom Sightings said...

A nice lesson learned from nature.

PiedType said...

I suppose albinos are possible in any species, but I've never seen or even heard of white squirrels. I imagine those twitching white tails are pretty conspicuous.

Alan Ginocchio said...

For a couple of years I had a grey squirrel frequent the back yard who had a solid white tail but that's as close I can come to albino here in Arkansas. Did manage to get a few good photos of him however. He was my favorite "tree rat" for a while and I'm not one to have favorite tree rats. As for black squirrels, oddly enough Arkansas falls into one of those rare areas where they can not normally be found. We're noted more for our populations of fox squirrels.

The critter here in Arkansas that seems to get all the chitter-chatter and attention is the infamous Ivory-Billed Woodpecker which now seems to have taken on a persona similar to Big Foot!

Jhawk23 said...

About 20% of the gray squirrel population around my place in northern Virginia is black; haven't ever seen a white one around here though. Maybe they survive a little bit better in Michigan, where you have more snow?

By the way, GG, saw your taking-a-break note in June so it's good to see you back. (I realize you've been "back" for some time now but I've been absent myself - last post was August 6 -- it wasn't preplanned, but it happened nonetheless.

Dick Klade said...

Good to see you back, too, JHawk.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

Wonder if you see any red squirrels up your way? Neighbor Cathy says our grey squirrels were imported into Europe after WWII because the Europeans ate all their squirrels during WWII.

Dick Klade said...

Dianne: There are red squirrels in our area, but we only rarely see one near our home. No surprise squirrels disappeared in some parts of Europe; older German members of our family recall much near-starvation after WWII. They ate almost anything, including grass, to survive.

Kay said...

I've seen black squirrels occasionally in certain towns in Illinois, but never a white one. That is pretty darn amazing to see. I wonder how many there are.