October 11, 2006
In all my years of squirrel-watching, I have never before seen a white squirrel. I spotted this one in South Croydon Recreation Ground; I was on my way to catch a train, so alas I didn't have time to get a better photo. He was chasing a grey around the park when I saw him, apparently fitting in with his social group without a problem. (I'm assuming 'he', as a male squirrel will chase another male in competition or a female for mating, but females are generally pursued rather than pursuer).
Albinism affects mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, suggesting it could date back as far as the Silurian, some 450 million years ago. It is the result of a recessive gene, and has a low rate of incidence. Albino animals can be quite healthy, although the disruption of natural camouflage can be a severe disadvantage in the wild. This urban albino squirrel will probably have no particular problems in his life, as predatory birds are rarely a problem for squirrels who live in large cities, and the most common cause of death is road accidents. I hope I will have a chance to see him again next time I'm in London.
Have you ever read the poem, "Design," by Robert Frost? (I will paste the text of it below. As it is in its entirely all over the internet, I will assume that it is out from under copyright.) The poem uses albinism as a trope to dicuss the possibility of an intentional design in the universe (A white spider, which would usually be black or brown, sits on a white flower, which would usually be blue, and thus camouflaged, catches a white moth.). One of Frost's favorite recurring themes is the danger inherent in going to extremes, so we cannot assume that he is supporting the rather extreme notion that the only explanation for a quirk of nature is "the hand of God." He rather muses on both the strangeness of the eerie convergence of oddities that seems prevalent in daily life and the knee-jerk reaction that the explanation must be a "divine plan." He notes that it is creepy to consider there being a plan for something as small and seemingly insignificant as a spider's next meal and that the supposed plan involves nature colluding to allow one creature to destroy another. If you're wondering what all of this has to do with a white squirrel, you're probably not alone.
by Robert Frost.
I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.
What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.
Posted by: TT | October 11, 2006 at 02:39 PM
Thanks for this! I don't need a logical reason to have someone share poetry. Feel free to post poems in my comments whenever the spirit moves you thus!
Posted by: Chris | October 12, 2006 at 09:13 AM
i think albino squirrels are sooooooooooooooo cute!!!!!!!
Posted by: bailey | December 10, 2006 at 11:09 PM
I don't give a damn about albino squirrels, but they are kinda cute.
Posted by: Magenta | December 10, 2006 at 11:12 PM
Albino squirrles are sooooooo damn cute!
Posted by: Patrick Sullivan | December 10, 2006 at 11:15 PM
I think albino squirrels are so f***en ungly. I mean, how could you think they are cute?
Posted by: kyle sullivan | December 10, 2006 at 11:17 PM
Why do people keep swearing? Every web sight i go to there is swearing!
Posted by: jessica stauber | December 10, 2006 at 11:21 PM
Why the hell would someone want to put poetry on a web sight?
Posted by: JoJo | December 10, 2006 at 11:22 PM
I'm a bit freaked out at this sudden burst of comments on a random squirrel post, but never mind.
Jessica: in answer to your question, the protection of anonymity on the internet empowers certain people to swear more than they would in real life, although also there are many people who enjoy swearing. It is a peril of the internet that we must count on individuals to behave politely, but they are less likely to do so protected by the mask of anonymity than in public.
JoJo: people might put poetry on a web site because they want to inject a little culture into the empty wasteland of vacuous content. It certainly pleased me to find poetry in my comments.
Posted by: Chris | December 11, 2006 at 10:29 AM
hello im doing my biology project about albinism and this is something ive been looking for because people think only humans can be born with albinism but this way they can see that it happens to animals also..so if you have anymore information about albinism please send me an e-mail..i am attend elizabethtown hight school kentucky
Posted by: shatresha goodman | February 23, 2008 at 06:13 PM
In my own method of navigation I follow the recent comments....Thanks for the shot - I've never seen an albino squirrel either!
Posted by: nomad | February 25, 2008 at 10:11 AM
I've never seen a white squirrel, what a treat that would be, but when I was younger I saw a blonde one at Lake Ontario Park, (near Kingston Ontario)
Posted by: carran2 | February 29, 2008 at 12:24 AM
You can find white (not albino) squirrels in protected areas in Kettering, Ohio (Patterson Park- Kettering is a suburb of Dayton, which is north of Cincinatti) and in a small, southern Illinois town called Olney. (south of Chicago)
Just a little bit of trivia for you. Enjoy your squirrels!
Posted by: lemonade | June 17, 2008 at 02:39 AM
lemonade: thanks for the tip! When you say "white not albino", what makes you think they aren't albino? The only white squirrels I know of are albino, so I'm genuinely curious. Thanks in advance for any more feedback you might have!
Posted by: Chris | June 18, 2008 at 11:09 AM