I’ve spent the past week visiting some colleagues at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, so to commemorate the occasion I thought I’d post these photos of a white squirrel that I snapped during a previous visit.
The squirrel was hanging out in the grounds of the museum, although I’m not sure how long it will have survived in the company of the red-tailed hawks that also hang out in the grounds, as you can see its rather conspicuous. White and albino squirrels are uncommon, but not unheard of across the US. From Wikipedia:
Olney, Illinois, known as the “White Squirrel Capital of the World,” is home of the world’s largest known albino-squirrel colony. Kenton, Tennessee is home to about 200 albino squirrels. There are also albino squirrels on the main campus of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Brevard, North Carolina and Marionville, Missouri have a substantial population of white (not albino) squirrels. Western Kentucky University has a locally famous population of white squirrels. Exeter, Ontario in Canada is known for having non-albino white squirrels, believed to be the result of a genetic mutation in the early 20th century. Black Squirrels with white tips on their tails are being noticed throughout Toronto, Ontario. White squirrels are also commonly seen in Dayton, Ohio and on the campus of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio. The snow belt in Western and Central New York (Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse) also has a significant white squirrel population
The squirrel at Harvard is actually not albino as you’ll see it has dark (not red) eyes. The colour change is likely the result of mutations in genes that control the production of melanin. More on white squirrels here