With 25 white squirrels in the country, spotting one is a rarity indeed.
A Country Life reader has sent us a beautiful photograph of the rare albino squirrel who lives in his garden.
Thomas Millington contacted us to let us know that this cheeky little chap has been living in his garden in Burwash, East Sussex, for the last couple of weeks.
“I first spotted it when I saw a white thing on the ground in amongst the leaves,” says Thomas.
“When I walked up to it it ran up into the trees.”
The unsolicited visitor wasn’t put off by this encounter, it seems.
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“Its been around for a couple of weeks wondering up and down the trees,” Thomas adds.
“Sometimes it’s on the ground but runs back into the trees where you can’t see it.”
Thomas is very lucky indeed to have seen one: while there are 2.5 million squirrels living in Britain, the chances of one being albino are estimated at 100,000-to-1. That means there are probably no more than a couple of dozen white squirrels in Britain at any one time.
Where one is spotted, however, more are likely to be found since they are believed to live in small colonies. That makes it less surprising that this is the second white squirrel Thomas has seen at his house. Sadly, the first sighting was of squirrel which had somehow met its demise before Thomas discovered it on the driveway.
Albino squirrels: The facts
- Albino squirrels – as with albinos of any species – lack the pigment melanin, giving them white fur and red eyes.
- Albinos have markedly poorer eyesight and hearing that normal squirrels. Melanin plays a role in the development of the eyes, without which focusing and depth perception are impaired.
- In North America, non-albino white squirrels have been spotted as well. They have a different gene which produces white fur, leaving the squirrels with dark eyes.
- As well as albino squirrels, there are also ‘melanistic’ squirrels. These squirrels have a surfeit of melanin, making them black all over.