What is a white squirrel?
What is a white squirrel and where did they come from? Is it a distinct species? Is it a mutation? These are some of my most FAQs. And the answer is, it depends. There is, in fact, one tree squirrel for which a white coat seems to be a characteristic of the entire species, at least in parts of its distribution. Its an Oriental Tree Squirrel of the genus (Callosciurus translates as “beautiful squirrel”) found in Thailand and other parts of South East Asia (Thorington and Ferrel, 2006). Another belongs to a yet undescribed species recently found on Palawan Island in the Philippines and thought to be endangered (for more information click here). So if you sighted a white squirrel here in North America outside of captivity, its almost certainly a color variant of one of our native species of the genus Sciurus (only distantly related to Callosciurus*). In my neighborhood, that would be the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). Most of what follows will be in reference to that species but white coated Fox Squirrels and Red Squirrels have been sighted, as well. Note: this posting becomes increasingly technical as it progresses, comparing the possible mechanisms by which different variants may arise; if such mechanisms are not of interest to you, I think you may want to skip down and read the last three paragraphs which focus on white squirrels, again, and are, I hope, of general interest.
Squirrel coats have a wide variation in color
There is much variation in squirrel coat color both locally and regionally. The general pattern of brown/gray on top and white below (counter shading) is considered the wild type from which other variations arose. These wild types, like most mammals, have dark eyes. The brown, reddish, gray, or even black color comes from the production of a pigment called melanin which, itself, comes in at least two varieties, eumelanin (black/brown) and phaeomelanin (red/yellow). Different combinations and arrangements of these two pigments produces a variety of hues. Alternating between one or the other (or neither) results in banded hairs referred to as agouti. All this variation can arise from change in either the genes that control the production and packaging of melanin itself, or of genes that control the distribution of melanin production. After all, most wild type gray squirrels have a white abdomen not because there are mutated genes in those cells but because there are regulatory genes which suppress the activity of melanin genes in these locations but not others (or prevent melanin producing cells called melanocytes from reaching such regions as discussed below). The white abdomen is adaptive. It makes the squirrel less visible from below against a light sky. Yet some squirrels have tan or ochre bellies (witness the now infamous Stan the rally squirrel for the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals’). Black or melanistic squirrels produce excessive amounts of melanin in comparison to the wild type and in expanded regions of the body. These variants are often found at higher latitudes and the dark color is thought to be involved in thermoregulation. The point I am making here is that while variation from wild type comes about by genetic change known as mutation, the word mutation carries a negative connotation, implying a freakish condition. In this case it produces a wealth of variation that may actually be appropriate for local conditions (including human preference). Thus, I prefer the term variant over mutant although I will use both below for variety.
White Squirrels are just another color variant of this variable species
With that said, white squirrels are just another color variant of this very variable species. The most common sightings of white squirrels are of isolated individuals with a completely white coat but dark eyes, a condition known as leucistic. This variant appears to spring up sporadically all over the species’ range and then dies out, only to pop up again somewhere else (see list of colonies and sighting). I think these are spontaneous mutants of some gene that delegates the use of the pigment (melanin) gene, not mutants of the melanin gene itself ( possible mechanism is suggested below). Instead of being produced in skin/hair cells and the eyes, it is only produced in the eyes. In another mutation, one in the genes that are directly responsible for producing melanin, no cells make the pigment and the squirrel is not only white but has pink or blue eyes. These true “albinos” are reported even less commonly, probably because without the eye pigment to reduce glare, their vision is impaired and they may suffer more from falls. Increased predation may also be a factor; a decline in the well monitored Olney Illinois albino population has been linked to cats.
White Squirrels in Brevard, NC are considered rare.
Still rarer seems to be the type of coat pattern we have here in Brevard NC. The coat is mostly white but there is a distinctive head patch and dorsal stripe that broadens in the shoulder region. The head patch can be solid, horseshoe or doughnut shaped; it may resemble a triangle, a diamond, deer tracks or even a widow’s peak (Count Dracula). There is some evidence that this pattern is inherited (Burgin: Inheritance of Head Patch). Although there is much variation in the amount of pigmentation, these white squirrels definitely can produce melanin, not just in the eyes but in hair cells as well. I’m guessing but I think the gene responsible is probably what we call a regulator gene, effecting the distribution of hair color, not color itself (although agouti and red hairs seem to be lacking). The region of white hair, normally restricted to the abdomen in a gray squirrel, is expanded at the expense of pigmented regions. A simple mechanism by which this might arise is from a shortage of melanocytes, the melanin producing cells (Dalzell, 1997). Melanocytes do not originate in the skin. Early in embryonic development, they are part of the neural crest which pinches off from the neural tube as it is about to close. These cells then migrate throughout the body where they contribute to the formation of many structures, most of which are much more vital to survival than coat color (a complete lack of neural crest cells would be lethal). Those destined to form melanocytes are called melanoblasts when immature. Their role at this stage is not to produce melanin but to migrate to the germative layers of the skin and penetrate into developing hair follicles. Another important function is to proliferate along the way. From a few dozen original cells, they will end up forming millions of mature, melanin producing melanocytes. But if something were to impede their replication, their numbers might not be sufficient to supply the entire body. Since, as mentioned above, counter shading is adaptive, we would expect the back (dorsal) areas to have priority to this limited supply. In fact, melanoblasts begin their journey in close proximity to this region of the body which would thereby get “first crack” at them, anyway. Simply retaining them near their point of origin would result in what appears to be an extended white “abdominal” region, i.e., a Brevard white squirrel! I have argued elsewhere (“Inheritance: Dominant or Recessive?”) that this predisposition to express the white pattern is inherited in accordance to a dominant model.
Albino squirrels appear to have a normal abundance and distribution of melanocytes.
Albino squirrels can’t produce melanin, period, skin or eyes; the subcellular structures where melanin is typically stored are empty (Searle, 1968). The leucistic condition can also be explained by interference in the normal develpment of these pigment producing cells. As they migrate and take up residence in the skin, the melanoblasts remain immature non-pigment producing cells. Normally they are destined to become mature pigment producing melanocytes under the influence of chemicals secreted by surrounding cells in the skin (fibroblasts and keratinocytes). Mutations are known (Wolpert et al, 1998:298) where these chemical inducers are altered or not recognized by the melanoblasts which remain immature (and thereby pigmentless) for life. Since this occurs locally in the skin after migration, it would not effect the normal induction of melanin production in the eyes. Variants that result from the lack of a receptor or chemical inducer, like those that result from non-functional enzymes as in albinos, are usually recessive. That is, all it takes is one normal version of the gene responsible and the wild type would be produced (credit victoria at http://www.dresshead). The unusual variant, in this case leucistic, probably requires a double dose, one from each parent although this has not actually been demonstrated. Finally, melanistic squirrels produce eumelanin in excess to that of the wild type, possibly under the influence of Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone from the pituitary. There is no a priori reason to think that this condition has to be recessive as suggested by Shorten (1945). There is no missing “ingredient,” only a change in proportions. The fact that crosses between melanistic and wild type squirrels produces intermediate offspring as reported in Searle (1968) means that this trait is not recessive according to the classical definition.
In addition to the white coat color, another variant in the Eastern Gray Squirrel can be found.
One additional variant should probably be mentioned here. Its not uncommon to observe a tan, ochre, or “blond” Eastern Gray Squirrel. This condition is thought to occur when eumelanin (black/brown in color) is “diluted” by a proponderance of phaeomelanin (yellow/red in color). There is some question as to whether the difference in color is due to an actual difference in the pigment polymers themselves or the protein matrix in which they are embedded (in the so-called melansome, an enlarged vesicle produced by Golgi bodies filled first with the protein matrix into which the polymerized pigment is later added). The usual stated chemical difference distinguishing the two pigment complexes is the presence of sulfur in phaeomelanin when the amino acid cysteine is readily available. Cysteine is the only sulfur bearing amino acid (amino acids being the building blocks of proteins). Sulfur bearing amino acids are capable of forming S-S cross bridges. Such availability of cysteine thus might be expected to change the nature of the protein matrix in which the pigments are embedded due to these cross bridges. According to Searle (1968), the protein matrix associated with the phaeomelanin complex is more condensed and less well organized than that which we refer to as eumelanin. The resulting change in the physical shape might account for the color shift. Any number of gene substitutions (mutations) might account for this and it is surprising that this variant is not observed more often. Interestingly, the one shown here has a white tail. It is not uncommon to observe two tone squirrels but like the one shown here, it is usually the tail that is unpigmented rather than the body. Perhaps, that has to do with the smaller target (diameter of the tail) for migrating melanoblasts to find.
The color coat is not a factor when squirrels mate.
Mating between coat color variants is probably random or non-assortative. Coat color is not nearly as much a factor as hormonal attraction. Squirrels have two breeding seasons per year, one in winter and one in summer; within those periods, each mature female will enter estrus on a different day but only for that one day. When a female enters estrus, interested males come from hundreds of yards away and camp out at her “door step” (outside her nest) before dawn without every seeing her coat color. Most accounts of “courtship”, itself, are brutal with little opportunity for females to be selective by any means, let alone coat color (Steele and Koprowski, 2001). Fortunately for her, she is only “receptive” and pursued by males for that one day during each breeding period. During that time, she may be impregnated by several different males, none of which help raise the young. That is one reason piecing together the genetics of coat color variation in squirrels is so difficult.
What determines a white squirrel colony?
Occasionally, the frequency of white variants in an area increases sufficiently and remains stable long enough to establish what is referred to as a “colony.” Dr. John Stencel restricts the use of the term “colony” to those locations in which at least 20 individuals (in absolute numbers) are regularly observed to be white in what is otherwise a normal gray population. I use a more “liberal” definition of a colony including all those communities in which white variants are repeatedly or regularly observed without any attempt to set absolute threshold numbers. Those populations are probably harboring a permanent reservoir of the white-predisposing gene(s). But whatever the definition, there are to my knowledge, no colonies of the Eastern Gray Squirrel approaching 100% white. There are approximately nine known colonies of true albino squirrels (see map of colonies in “Overview of Findings” post; these are self-reporting observations) including the best studied one in Olney IL where a few hundred white squirrels make up approximately 12% of the population. There are a similar number of leucistic colonies but their percentages never reach double figures. I believe that Brevard’s population, with almost one in three white, has the highest percent white of any known colony and with approximately a thousand individuals within the original city limits (3 square miles), it is far and away the largest of such “colonies.”
Where did the Brevard, NC white squirrels come from?
Although the white squirrels has been very successful establishing their colonies in our area, it is rare elsewhere including its native Florida. Despite being widely distributed throughout central and northern Florida, this variant occurs in such low frequency that most Floridians are unaware of its existence. However, they thrive in a few areas like Sopchoppy and the pecan orchard in Madison, Florida where our white squirrels allegedly came from. Once introduced in Brevard, they have thrived here, as well, and in other areas into which they were released (e.g., Walkerstown NC). Perhaps the “Adam and Eve” translocated from Florida to North Carolina were unusually vigorous for reasons genetically correlated but not directly related to coat color. Or perhaps the visibility which we assume makes them vulnerable to predation actually protects them from a greater threat, the automobile. It’s also possible that predators, such as hawks, have “search images” that don’t match with white prey**. But why would that benefit populations in one area but not another.
* Steppan, S.J., B.L. Storz, and R.S. Hoffman. 2004. Nuclear DNA phylogeny of the squirrels (Mammalia: Rodentia) and the evolution of arboreality from c-myc and RAG1. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 30 (3):703-719 as reported on page 13 of Thorington and Ferrell (cited below).
** In this context, the following anecdote my have some relevance. A Brevard resident had visitors who brought their dog. Squirrels were very abundent in her neighbor and there are about equal numbers of white and gray. The dog regularly gave chase to gray squirrels but just stared at white ones.
Some Squirrel References I have found useful
Burgin, Jennifer. Notable Observations. http://www.brevardnc.org/whitesquirrelinstitute/Burgin_Jennifer.htm
Dalzell, Bonnie. 1997. Canine Coat Color – Inheritance and Appearance (coat colors and coat color inheritance in dogs) with an emphasis on Colors in Borzoi. http://www.borzois.com/coat.color/coat.color.html
Long, Kim. 1995. Squirrels: a Wildlife Handbook. Johnson Books, Boulder. 181 pp.
Searle, Antony G. 1968. Comparative Genetics of Coat Colour in Mammals. Logos Press, London. 308 pp.
Shorten, M. 1945. Inheritance of melanism in grey squirrels. Nature: 156: 46
Steele, Michael A., J.F. Merritt, and D.A. Zegers (eds). 1998. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of Tree Squirrels. Special Publication #6 of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, Martinsville. 311 pp. (Proceedings of the International Colloquium on the Ecology of Tree Squirrels, Powdermill Biological Station, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 22-28 April 1994)
Steele, Michael A. and John L. Koprowski. 2001. North American Tree Squirrels. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington. 151 pp.
Thorington, Richard W. Jr, and Katie Ferrell. 2006. Squirrels: the Animal Answer Guide. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 183 pp.
Wolpert, Lewis, Rosa Beddington, Jeremy Brockes, Thomas Jessell, Peter Lawrence, and Elliot Meyerowitz. 1998. Principles of Development. Oxford Universy Press, Oxford. 484pp.
We are from Cherryville, NC, and spotted an individual white squirrel that does not have the markings of your Brevard squirrel. It, however, is not a albino because it has dark eyes. It is all white with no markings and pinkish/white ears with black eyes. The grey squirrels, here, would try to intimidate it and chase it away. The white squirrel would show up daily at 9 in the morning and 5 at night to eat. We do have a picture (as does our neighbor) but we could not attach it to this comment. We would like to know if this squirrel is related to your Brevard squirrel or a breed of its own.
I have seen four white “gray” squirrels at the same time in a park in Richmond Va. I went back recently and counted three at the same time.
Today I saw one in my mothers yard on the feeder ten miles from that park.
I live in Evansville Indiana yesterday we seen a squirrel the body was white the tail was brown with line like regular squirrel . I have never seen a squirrel that looked like that.
Hi Tina sounds like you have Leucistic white squirrel which is actually an Eastern gray squirrel with a recessive gene. Thank you letting us know.
Hi Gary, I Just photographed one on 25th St and Broad in Churchill on Dec 22 … which park have you seen them in?
White squirrels have lived in our area for as long as we have. At least fifteen years. They have managed to stay in this area although for a few years it seemed they were not as visible. This year actually this month they are in my backyard and have built a nest.. They are beautiful one has a little Mohawk lol. I have some great pictures
I live in Petersburg, Illinois and spend a lot of time in the outdoors. I saw a red squirrel today at Lincoln’s New Salem State Park with a white “sweater” on. It looked much like another one that I spotted about a mile away from there about three or four months earlier. I was not able to get a picture of the one I saw today but I did get three snapshots of the one I saw earlier. If you would like for me to forward them to you I would be glad to do so if you would send me an email address. I would have sent them with this note but I do not see any provision for attachments. Just let me know. Dan Roseberry
I have seen a whitish squirel in Mount Holly NC…I have seen this one a few times driving to work, I about wrecked the 1st time b/c I have never heard of them before n didnt know what to think 🙂 lol
We have seen a white squirrel on 3 separate dates in the past couple of months in Henderson county. Uncertain if the same one each time, or sitings consist of several. Most recently, now we saw white squirrels for several consecutive days nearer Brevard county, in the forest areas that were lakeside. They were distinctly not albino, no mistake. Each incident has been in the early mornings. Notably, the white squirrels avoided going near the dry corn that was “placed out” for wildlife feed – and which was devoured openly by the traditional grey squirrels. The white squirrels burrowed in the bushes, and we noted they had unusually bushy tails or “flufflier” tails than what we consider as the usual standard. Another white squirrel had a very thin tail by contrast – and yet it was without any doubt holding the record for the very longest tail we have ever seen on any squirrel in all our years! Got a few pix that are undeniable to include both the bushy tail view and show the amazing length of the other’s tail…… yet they are not the best quality shots since these elusive animals just refused to stop moving 😉
We live in Shasta Lake CA. Close to Redding Ca.. we have
at least 2 white Squirrels living in our back yard. We are a haven for many animals. Deers. Raccoons, beavers, quail. Turkeys and a host of others routinely visit our feeders and graze on many of my flowers in our gardens. Seeing the white Squirrels this past 6 months along with our grays ones has been interesting to watch the dynamics of them. The white ones are much more aggressive towards the gray ones. All seem to live in harmony.
Thank you for letting us know. We have not received any sightings from that area before.
We live in Redding, CA, just south of Shasta Lake. We had a pair nesting in one of our pine trees about five years ago and then didn’t see any for several years. This winter, we have seen one multiple times.
Just saw a white squirrel with black marking on head and down back at Angel Oak Johns Island SC.
We live in Orange, Texas. We had two white squirrels for a long time in our area. About a year ago one of them was killed by a car in the road, however, the other still comes into our yard on a daily basis. It is very territorial and does not like other squirrles coming around. It seems to have a nest near our home
I live in Novato California and saw a blonde squirrel in my back yard two days ago. I have lived here for 15 years (in this house) and we have never seen a squirrel this color. We have lots of grey squirrels however on our oak covered acre. I say blonde because it was not white but rather a pale yellow color. Very cool.
I have pictures of it.
I live in a medium sized suburb of St. Paul and I have both an albino and a leucistic squirrel in my neighborhood. I also have a melanistic squirrel that runs around here as well. All three seem comfortable with the grey squirrels. They have become my morning coffee companions.
Thanks for the share. Sounds like you have quite a mix. Do you have any colonies of albino, leucistic or melanistic squirrels in your area?
Jennifer, Sounds like a great way to start your day.
I’m in St. Paul, MN, too and we have had a lot of new white squirrels added to the local population this year. The usual grey squirrels are more common, but there were some baby white squirrels this year.
If you ever get a picture of one of the babies please share it on our Facebook page. We would really appreciate it.
Thank you for posting.
I just had a white squirrel in my backyard today. I got 3 pics of it. I’m in Ohio!
Thank you for letting us know! Happy squirrel watching.
I posted on your FB page. Picture of today’s white squirrel.
We just saw a white squirrel. eating under our bird feeder in Fayetteville, NC April 30, 2022 at 1:30pm
Thank you for letting us know!
we have a white squirrel,,and we see it all the time,its bigger then the grey ones,,and we have it on video tape
The one that I see is bigger, too.
there have been at least a couple of years of white squirrels being spotting in Brooklyn Park, MN.
mainly in the area about the Stonybrook Condo complex.
I live in Northeastern Ohio. I have two male squirrels in my yard since late spring. They are reddish (?) in color, but their tails are pure white. The core of the tail is black, with long white hair coming from it. The appear somewhat tame…the one will follow me up the rail of a ramp on my house, and wait for me at the window to bring him some peanuts. I have seen them wrestling and playing in the grass, and the seem to get along with regular red tail squirrels. Any ideas of what they are, or have they been seen in this area before?
I just saw a white squirrel in Houston, TX.
Carrabelle, Florida is my home now, having just moved from PA. This morning I awoke to see a white squirrel with a black strip down its back, in my front yard. It has black eyes. There isn’t a black marking on its head. I’m in northern Florida, is this a common squirrel for this area?
I live in Tavares, Fl. Which is central Florida. I have seen a white squirrel no marking, appears to have black eyes.
I am so excited! I just witnessed a white squirrel in my yard feeding at my bird feeders. I am in northwest Houston, in the subburbs.
It has black eyes so not an albino! it seems to be hanging out with 2 other squirrels normal color! How rare are these?
It has been hanging around all summer.
I am in the suburbs of NW Houston, Texas
We have recently observed two white squirrels on the Georgia Tech campus. Both have small areas of grey on their backs but are predominately white with dark eyes.
I live in Indianapolis, In. in a wooded area within the suburbs.Frequently a grey squirrel with white haunches has shown up to feed. Over several weeks, we have seen the same white squirrel increase the area of white until its whole head and body are solid white while the tail has remained grey.
My church in Columbus, OH has 3 White Squirrels on our property…they are beautiful…and love to run and play.
I saw and photographed a white squirrel on June 2 of this year in Scranton, PA at McDade Park in the northeast part of the state.
50 years at the same house, I never saw a white squirrel in the area , one day in April 2022, White squirrel dark eyes with no other coloring noted, appears in the yard and has been hanging out.
Sorry forgot to give location, in Severn Maryland.
There is a very large breeding population of entirely white squirrels with pink eyes in St Louis Park Minnesota. They have been here for many years. Three years ago our resident white mom had two gray babies and two white babies. We know this because we watched mom move her kids to a new home.
I spotted a white squirrel climbing up our ponderosa yesterday morning! We live in Calaveras County, California. Could not believe my eyes; such a beautiful animal! Couldn’t see what color his eyes were, but he was all white, no grey, like the others.
i saw one today in Orange Texas. It was in the Roselawn addition.
I live in Citrus Heights California. I have noticed in recent years a large population of black squirrels in this rural area of the city. Just yesterday while driving out I saw a friend talking picturs of something in a tree, it was bright all white squirrel. I am waiting for her to post the photos but I believe it had dark eyes.
I have 2 albino squrrils that live in my yard. in redding ca
A friend and I spotted a completely white squirrel in Huntsville AL on a hike through Monte Sano State Park. We couldn’t get close enough to see the squirrels’ eyes. We tried to get a photo, but it was too shy to capture an image. Totally cool to have seen it though!
We have several resident white squirrels here in Hendersonville,NC and some are completely white while others have the black on their heads and usually a black stripe down their backs! I took a picture of one this morning hanging upside down on one of my bird feeders (a squirrel proof feeder I might add) and would like to send it to you if I knew how to!
Hi Carolyn. You can email a picture to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you
I live in New Liskeard Ontario Canada.
A white squirrel, with brown patches, just came to our bird feeder. I have never seen one before in Northern Ontario.
Thanks for letting us know! We had another white squirrel sighting in Ontario a couple of years ago. Glad to hear they are still in your area.
I volunteer at a resort in the Orlando/Kissimmee FL area, Give Kids the World Village, that hosts children with life threatening illnesses (Wish kids). We have at least two on the property. They have dark eyes and are all white.
I posted on your FB page. Picture of today’s white squirrel.
I will in Douglas, Massachusetts….have a white squirrel feeding on my bird feeder in my yard….have been able to snap a few pics..very cool have never seen a white squirrel before!!!
Wow how cool…I have never seen a white squirrel
I live in Dublin, CA and just this morning we saw a white squirrel playing with all the other squirrels on our hill side. I have never seen one before and my husband and I had to do a double table as this white blur ran up our tree.
I never even thought they existed, I’m glad this website had so much information. I hope the white squirrel sticks around, as we could not tell if he had pink or dark eyes.
I have seen a white squirrel off of oak and fairoaks. during the month of april/2013 very nice.
I am from Raleigh,NC. Today I saw a creme color one,tail was a little darker, he just like “Flame point” called cats. I got very excited, I am 57 and the first time in my life I saw an extraordinaire squirrel,I stopped my car right away to take a picture,but wit a cell camera it was impossible. I wish I had a good camera so I could be able to capture a pic of him.
I am from Raleigh,NC. Today I saw a creme color one,tail was a little darker, he was just like “Flame point” called cats. I got very excited, I am 57 and the first time in my life I saw an extraordinaire squirrel,I stopped my car right away to take a picture,but wit a cell camera it was impossible. I wish I had a good camera so I could be able to capture a pic of him.
I have never seen a white squirrel until yesterday. I was sitti g outside the office of a RV park waiting for my husband to check in and low and behold a white squirrel came scamming across the road. I was telling my husband and he said did you read the street sign?i looked up and the road was called white squirrel. This park is I. Ruskin, Florida
I seen a white squirrel with a brown tail, today playing with the many brown squirrels, in our yard. What a treat. I have never seen a white squirrel before, pictures of them is all. June 6th, 2013
Hello. We’ve had a squirrel with a white body but brown and gray tail and brown eyes and ears for years around our neighborhood. We now have offspring with even a snow white body playing in our yard. They bring us great joy. But they scare workers around the neighborhood who are superstitious!
Albino white (pink eyes)lives in our yard in Geneva, Florida. His/her name is Ford. The whole neighborhood likes to catch a glimpse of her (no testicles evident).
We sighted a white squirrel in Rajkot, Gujarat state, India on 29 sept, 2013
Wow! Any pictures? If you have one, please send to email@example.com
I seen a completely white squirrel run across the road in front of my car to day just after I left my driveway in Madison, NC October 2, 2013
We have a white squirrel who is now a regular visitor to our bird feeders. Flat Rock, NC. There have been other sightings in our area (Kenmure).
I saw a white squirrel with a black tail and black markings on its head in my backyard in Lawton, Oklahoma. I’ve seen it for 2 days in a row. I hope it comes coming back. Very cool. Thanks for the info!
About a year and a half ago, I bought a house in Etowah, NC, about 15 miles from Brevard, and I have had 3 generations of White Squirrels living in the attic over my bedroom in that time. I named the first one I saw Diamond for the shape of his little grey hat, then when his girlfriend showed up with a rounded hat, I named her Pearl. I know your article says that the males don’t help raise the babies, but these two seemed to be inseparable. They come out of my attic, then jump off the roof onto a branch hanging down in front of my living room window, which bounces up and down, announcing their arrival to entertain me and my 2 inside cats. One day last winter, I saw Pearl come racing off the roof, followed shortly by a very large grey squirrel, and last spring she had 2 white babies, and 2 grey babies. Pearl has since disappeared, but there is a new Mommy White Squirrel I call Lucky (Horse Shoe shaped grey hat) living in my attic with her 4 White babies that have just started traveling the ‘Tree highway’ from the roof in mid-September. 2 of them have a lot more black on them, so I named one Shadow, and the other Slash, because he had a black stripe on each hip, though I haven’t seen him since last week, and I’m afraid he got hit by a car on the main road into my neighborhood. I haven’t posted video of the current family online yet, but I will try to post the links to my You-tube videos of Diamond burying food in the yard, then 2 videos of Diamond and Pearl building a nest in the tree outside my dining room window. I have a pic I posted on Facebook of Shadow eating a nut on the little Squirrel Picnic Table while I stood barely 2 feet away. Just today, he actually ran from the tree trunk straight out that branch, and bounced up and down in front of the window looking right in at me, clearly trying to get my attention. I stood up from my chair, and noticed that the corn cob I’d put out just an hour before had been picked clean, so he was apparently asking for more. Needless to say, I went right out with more corn and a few nuts, and by the time I’d walked back up to my Living Room, he was happily snacking on the new supply. I hope you enjoy the videos! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evvlG-A1jpI
Thanks for the videos. Are these squirrels still doing well?
I knew of the Olney white squirrels, but I was happy to find out about your Brevard beauties. I live in Brighton, NY, a suburb of Rochester, and my neighborhood has had a small population of white squirrels for at least the last 20 years. They are leucistic, and some are whiter than others. Regular gray squirrels have a rusty colored area down the back, and our white squirrels often are mainly white but still have the cinnamon colored back stripe. Others are predominantly white but have some interspersed dark hairs as well. We also get blond squirrels once in a while. Several years ago, we saw what was clearly one litter of three young white squirrels, which would seem to suggest that the trait is dominant. Currently, we have two regularly visiting our yard who were probably born last winter. Thanks for the information on your site. It’s very helpful.
We just moved and spotted a white squirrel today in a tree in our yard in Prior Lake, MN. I was enamored with this as we would occasionally see a white squirrel in the neighborhood I grew up in in Grand Rapids, MN. Long live the white squirrels!
I saw one yesterday on my bike ride home. Cedar Lake Trail North, Hopkins, Minnesota. I thought it was a small short cat with a fluffy tail at first.
I am visiting in Stratford, Ct. We have a white squirrel in the yard. Are they rare in this part of the U.S.?
It’s a bit dated (as is this reply), but I found this article on white squirrels in Stratford, CT.
Today I spotted a white squirrel in Cheshire CT
It was really cool looking. I had never scene one
I have a baby white squirrel in my tree out-side my third floor apartment in Verdun Quebec, and a few months ago we seen a full grown white one along with a black and a brown and also a red one which is amazing..
Not all the Brevard white squirrels (actually Transylvania County) have the dark head patch. Actually I would say more than half I have observed do not have it (but they have the dark eyes, therefore not albinos). There are random sightings of white squirrels in nearby counties (Henderson County) and we had several sightings years ago up in Buncombe County near one of the main arteries connecting to Transylvania County via Henderson County.
A friend who moved to Brevard years ago just after he stopped using drugs saw one for the first time and thought he was having a hallucinogenic flashback 😉
I live in Overland Park, KS, a suburb of Kansas City. I saw a cream-colored (very close to white) squirrel with a tan tail in a thickly wooded area near my home. I hope our local red-tailed hawk never sees him!
This morning we saw a white squirrel in the woods back of our house. It was so exciting. Was not close enough to see any type markings but he did have what appeared to be a long and very bushy tail. Hopefully, we will have more sightings.
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Read your article and found it very interesting. In fact I live in Southern NH, Salem NH to be exact The folks in our small three block neighborhood have had the privilege of seeing white squirrels on and off for the past 4 years. We know that at one time there were as many as three which were reported seen together or near each other on more than one occasion. Unfortunately the sightings fell down to one and about two years ago I found that one dead in the road, apparently hit by a car. Was a very sad day. I am happy to say that about three months ago another one showed up in some large oak trees in the neighbor’s yard across the street from my house. I have seen it about a dozen times since. It shows up between 8am and 9am in the morning and then again in the early afternoon. It is all white. Have not been close enough to see its eyes yet.
I was able to get a photo about a week ago. Do you know if it is genetic and possibly if it is bred into them. Could it be possible that the new visitor is simple an offspring of one of the initial three?
I’m from Scottsville NY, I have seen a few white squirrels in my neighborhood but rare in certain blocks. they’re a bit ashen white colored not pure white.
We have a white squirrel in our neighborhood in Winchester, MA currently, the first I have ever seen. A grey squirrel, completely white with black eyes. It interacts with other grey squirrels in what appears to be a typical way.
We have had a very light blond squirrel in our yard this winter. I have lived here 30+ years and never saw one before. Beautiful!
I live in Middletown, CT. The blond squirrel is feeding on my bird feeder now!
Saw a white squirrel on our deck yesterday here in Michigan’s upper peninsula (Yooper country). Ironically, we put down our white German Shepherd three weeks ago. Animal reincarnation?
I just saw a white squirrel with a pretty bushy tail today in overland Park, KS. wow, I didn’t know these exist!
I spotted a white squirrelly in Westerly RI, from the looks of the list it’s the only one seen in RI. I do have a picture but cannot attach it here
I live just outside and east of Athens Ohio. One year the woods next to my house had about half dozen all white squirrels and one particular squirrel was half white (waist up) and grey (waist down). I only saw them that one year and for just a few days, never seen any since then. Very strange. The half white squirrel looked like he/she was wearing a T-shirt.
Do you have a picture of this squirrel? If you do, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have had a squirrel with white body, normal eyes and normal brown tail in the neighborhood for about 4 years now.
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I live in Trenton, IL and just moved into my house about 3 weeks ago and have seen a Blonde Squirrel that must live in the area. I thought i was seeing things but I saw it again for a longer period of time, soooo cool. I can’t wait to see it again and take a pic.
Do you have a picture of this squirrel? If you do, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A long time ago I saw an albino squirrel white with red eyes in the park near the college I attended, but I recently spotted a white squirrel with brownish -gray tail and ears plus brown eyes I took a photo as I ran out the road way.
This spring my wife has seen three white squirrels’ one is completely white, one has just a brown head with rest body white and the third one has a black “Mohawk” on its top head and the rest of body white. This is the first type of white squirrels we have ever seen here in our Camden township residents. She feels very blessed to have seen them!
June 4 , 2014 at 10:30 am. I have seen a white squirrel. Today running across a telephone line . I was really surprised . He was Beautiful.
We have recently had a Grey squirrel with a snow white tail visiting our bird feeders next to the Geist Reservoir in Indianapolis, IN. Never had them before. I have pictures.
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I live in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada and I have seen my very first white-tailed squirrel! Normal brown body colouring, but a pure white tail! Never have seen anything like it…thought I was seeing things! I was finally able to capture photos of him/her today (June 9, 2014) after many sightings.
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Crawfordsville, IN We have seen a gray/brown squirrel with white tail and a strip of red coloring on the underside of the tail. Do you know what this is
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Just saw a squirrel with an all white tail here in Saint Charles, Illinois. Amazing!!
This week I saw a pure blonde squirrel for the first time, in Novato CA. Not much info on the internet about them.
We just spotted and videotaped a family of white eastern greys in our yard they are nesting..pine bluff Ar.
I live in ontario Canada , and i have a family of blond/white squirrels that live on my property 🙂
We have seen a white squirrel in our area of statesville, NC
Thanks for letting us know.
We saw a white squirrel in Fairfield, oh. On January 27,2020. First we have ever seen.
Camillia, If you have a picture of it please post on our Facebook page. They are fun to watch.
A white squirrel lives in our neighborhood. I hadn’t seen in for over a year, and today I spotted him climbing a small tree in our backyard (which backs up to a thick woods where he seems to live). I got some pics, but he was moving fast so they are a bit blurry. He’s big! Fletcher, NC
So glad your white squirrel is back and sounds like he’s doing well.
We have a white squirrel family that has migrated from one square block are to another one approximately 4 miles away the next summer. This was in Middletown,Ohio.
We also have seen at least 2 white squirrels in Franklin, Ohio for the last two years. Franklin Is about 5 miles from Middletown.
Thank you for the information. Can you tell if they have red eyes or black eyes?
On vacation in Otway (Beaufort) NC and have seen two here and got a photo of the smaller one.
How do i paste it in?
If you would post it on our Facebook page or you can email it to us that would be great.
It has been rare to see a snow white squirrel here in Bowling Green KY – lived here 40 yrs. Have seen about 3 in 40 years. In our case I feed peanuts to squirrels, blue jays, and Cardinals…. may the best man win in our yard and we use no chemicals. Lotta trees, too.But one came on June 4 and has returned. It is longerand a bit bigger than our grays, making me wonder if it is an older squirrel. Our grays don’t seem to like the white one much.
We moved to Henrico, Va in 2018, and noticed white squirrels after a few days. Now we have them in our backyard most the time. I have seen them in about a square mile. Perhaps it was an advantage during the last glacial maximum?
I’m in Kannapolis NC and there’s a grey squirrel with white feet. I know that they generally have white on the insides of their feet but, this one has totally white feet. I still have to get a picture. I can’t get close enough to get a good one with this phone. The camera isn’t great.
We would be very interested in seeing a picture of the white footed grey squirrel!
I live in Titusville Florida and never knew white squirrels existed until I saw one earlier this year.
Since then we have seen several in a neighborhood along the Indian river, this seems to be the only area they are in.
We have also seen white with reddish fur on their backs.
It’s interesting to know they are apparently all over the country, just not seen as much as the gray or red variety.
Thank you for your comments. We are definitely seeing an increase in white squirrel sitings around the US which would indicate the white squirrel populations are increasing.
I saw an albino squirrel in Fargo Nd last night. It was all white. It has been sighted in a four block radius in North Fargo.
I have at least one living in the trees at the back of our property here in Thailand. The trees are quite tall and the canopy is thick. I have seen the squirrel only one time before, but yesterday I almost got a photo of it when it ventured close to ground level at the back of the house. Well, I managed a photo of it’s tail as it disappeared around the trunk of a jackfruit tree. There may be more of them, I don’t know………I hope so. I will keep the camera closer at hand.
We have a white squirrel with pink eyes that lives under our deck.
Sorry, living under our deck in Los Angeles, California in Los Angeles, California
Sorry, living under our deck in Los Angeles, California
I have a white squirrel with pink eyes living under our deck in Los Angeles, California
That would be an albino. Do you know of any other albino squirrel colonies in your area?
I live in Westerville Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. We have an albino squirrel that hangs out in our backyards for the last several weeks. My guess is they can be either male or female, because of all my research I have not found any information regarding their gender. It is such a blessing and gift!
We agree. Wonderful to watch!
We live in Northern KY in the small rural community of Walton. We have an abundance of hickory nut and walnut trees on our property so “Snow White” has gotten pretty plump over the past two years since we first saw her. Of course I don’t know if ours is female but I do hope she or he stays around!
Saw an all white squirrel in Northern Wisconsin at the lower part of the peninsula of Door County. He was adorable white bushy tail.
Susan was it an albino squirrel (red eyes)?
Also we have one all black squirrel in indianapolis in among a bunch of brown squirrels in our yard.
We do not have black squirrels here in Brevard, NC just the white and gray squirrels. Would love to see a picture of the Black Squirrels.
My husband and I just saw a white squirrel in Jackson, Ga (Butts County). Never seen one before he/she was beautiful.
I am an oudoors person, but have never seen white squirrels near Minneapolis, MN until this winter. Two of them are in the trees near my apartment.
I have had a few people submit sitings in Minneapolis. Lucky you!
On October 8, 2021 I saw my first white squirrel. Since this time I have seen her/him a number of times in the yard feeding. She/He was trying to eat where I put out nuts and seeds for the gray squirrels and birds. The other squirrels tried to chase her away but she seemed to hold her own and chased them right back. I then tried to feed the grey squirrels at another place in the yard so the white squirrel could eat (which worked). The last time I have seen Snow (as I call her/him) was January 1, 2022. I don’t know if Snow is hibernating during the cold winter here, although I hope when the weather gets a little warmer, I will see her again.
I hope that you will see her again!
Our albino living under the deck has come back, driving the dog crazy
I saw while color squirrels in 1757 Golf Club, Northern Virginia
how rare is it ?
The populations are very small and sprinkled around the country. Based on our last squirrel count here in Brevard, the population was estimated at 1000. We are working on doing another count to get updated numbers. We believe we have one of the larger colonies of Leucistic squirrels in the US.
Yes there have been other sitings reported in Northern Virginia. Thank you for letting us know.
Hi! Thank you for all of this interesting information! We live in Barrington, Illinois (a northwest suburb of Chicago) and this spring we began having white squirrels in our yard all the time. When we began observing with binoculars we could clearly see variations in the amount and placement of the white areas but we definitely have at least three of them and probably four or five. We have observed all white, just a white tail, and one mixed about half white and half the light tan color on his head shoulders and a triangle on the back. I think there is one with just a brown stripe down part of the back. All have very white tails. They seem to get along with each other and appeared about the same time so it makes me think they are siblings. We also have lots of grey and a few black squirrels. We started feeding birds many years ago and decided it was easier to feed the squirrels their own piles of food on the ground than try to keep them off the bird feeders, so we have a lot of squirrels. We love them to pieces, they are so adorable and sweet. I hope the white ones will not fall prey to the foxes and large predatory birds here. We have a lot of those and the occasional coyote. I told my friends about the white squirrels but none of them have been seeing them in their yards. Oh, and when I look closely I see that there is a little soft grey or tan fur mixed with the white. They come across as very white from a distance, but they do have a little color mixed in and their eyes are brown.
Thank you for the information. Sounds like you have a little colony of leucistic white squirrels.
While on an early morning walk in Ludington, MI I saw a beautiful white squirrel in the woods where we were vacationing in a rental home. I tried to get a picture of it on the tree it scurried up, but it stopped too briefly. I’d never seen one before and had no idea they existed. Thank you for your informative page.
So glad you were able to see these amazing little creatures. Brevard, NC has one of the largest leucistic populations in the US. I have several ones that live around my house. It’s always a treat to see them scampering throughout the tree’s.
there are a few white squirrels in my neighborhood in Meggett SC. They apparently have been here for years. Today we spotted them venturing outside of their normal area. We live at the end of an island with only one way in and out. Guess they want to check out other parts of the country.
Their populations do fluctuate depending on available resources and habitat. Thanks for sharing.
Saw a white squirrel yesterday on a street below us. First one. Hope to see more. They do stand out on a green lawn. This is a residential area south of Seattle.
Could you tell if it was an Albino or Leucistic white squirrel
I saw a white squirrel, yesterday, October 25, 2022 in SheltonCT. It was pure white.
There is a colony of 10 so far that I’ve counted living in a town called Belle River (aka Lakeshore) in S/W ontario, Canada
All White with dark eyes. Gorgeous.
Saw a completely white squirrel along a trail in Mindota Heights, MN yesterday and have a picture of it. Beautiful, unique creature.
My sister has discovered a white squirrel and a white dove coming to her house everyday. It’s so unusual to see either of these animals. They r beautiful!!
I have had a colony of white squirrels around my house in noth florida for about 20 years. it started out with one male but has grown into a colony,
I have had a colony of white squirrels around my house in north florida for about 20 years. it started out with one male but has grown into a colony,
My grand uncle, my grandmothers brother, Seldon Clark got involved in a project after returning from WWI where they brought white squirrels from Canada and also bought panthers back to Hendersonville / Flat Rock area in NC. I am not sure why the white squirrels were brought here. The panthers were disappearing in the mountains. I think they are all gone now due to population.
We have several families of white squirrels living in our little town, just outside of Madison Wisconsin.
Rita Bruss from Waupaca WI, We live in semi-rural area between small lakes and ponds, very wooded with white pine, red pine, oak, and maple. We have black and grey squirrels, tiny red squirrels, and today we spotted our first very white squirrel. Feb. 20, 2023 at 9:15am
Saw dappled white/ gray squirrel 3/25/23 in Dana Point California.
Gray around eyes, body 80% white 20% gray. He is perfectly camouflaged amongst rock on brakewater.