A rare albino squirrel has been photographed right here in Eden Prairie. Rick Olson, a resident and also a photographer for Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN), captured this distinctive creature from his front yard.
Eden Prairie residents often see gray squirrels scurrying around neighborhoods and parks in the fall, searching for food, and locals occasionally see a white squirrel. But what sets this particular squirrel apart is its possible albinism, distinguished by eye color and genetics. To confirm the true nature of his discovery, Olson reached out to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Blane Klemek, Minnesota DNR Northwest regional wildlife manager, told EPLN, “the photos indicate that this gray squirrel shows traits more consistent with albinism, as opposed to leucism, which also leads to the white coat.” Both genetic mutations, albinism and leucism, are rare, but albinism stands out for its extreme rarity.
For context, albinism is believed to occur in roughly 1 in 100,000 squirrels, while leucism and melanism are more common, appearing in about 1 in 10,000. Klemek noted that white and black squirrels are not different species but simply variations of a gray squirrel.
Their captivating white coat, though alluring, can make these squirrels more prone to predators, leading to their rare presence in the wild.
Bonding over their shared white hair, Olson named the squirrel “Rocky.” He observed that Rocky, perhaps instinctively aware of his vulnerability, often stays concealed, especially under tree branches, to protect against threats like eagles and hawks.
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