Sunday, May 4, 2014

The continued "tail" of the squirrel...

Last week I posted a camera trap image (seen at left) of a stray cat with a strange looking red squirrel in it’s mouth. Red squirrels are mostly…well, red. Of course there are variations, and they’re not ALL truly red. But this was really something, the body appeared (in this picture) to be either naked of fur, or covered in a very light coat of white fur. Strange color variations can occur in all mammals like leucism (lack of pigment in localized areas), melanism (excess of pigment), and albinism (complete lack of pigment: all white/blonde fur, pink skin and eyes). If it was anything, I guessed this squirrel was leucistic through it’s trunk/abdomen area. Other theories were that this was a baby squirrel, it was albino, it had an ectoparasite like mange, it was shaved, and/or fur loss. Having only this grainy, unfocused camera trap picture to go by, we could only guess.

Then, yesterday morning I opened the back door to let the dog out, and there was ANOTHER “white” red squirrel in my backyard, this time alive, and happily feeding on bird seed. I quickly got my camera and started taking pictures.

A side by side of the front and the back of Squirrel #2.

As you can see, he or she appears very healthy and is gorging on black oil sunflower seeds. You can also probably see that this squirrel IS covered in fur, but just a fine downy layer. It was suggested, and I agree, that this squirrel appears to just be missing the guard hairs, but the downy undercoat is still there. If you have a dog or a cat, part their fur and you’ll likely see a color difference in the coat. Longer hairs also are longer and coarser than the fine down.

So, are these squirrels just shedding or molting? It’s the strangest thing.

I stuck my camera trap back out to try and get some footage of them. Here are a few of the images.

Then, this morning I sit down at my kitchen table, at which I have a great view of the backyard, and there are TWO of these strange-looking squirrels now! So a total of the strangest looking red squirrels I’ve ever seen, end up in my back yard!

Two “white” red squirrels in my yard, Schoharie, NY
The bar you see in the above picture is part of an old porch swing frame that I use to hang my feeders from.
I’ll leave you with this video of Squirrel #2 yesterday afternoon. Feel free to comment with ideas. I’ve sent pics in to the DEC and am awaiting a response!



  1. Wow, a baby squirrel, would they all be from the same family? I could really only hazard a guess at your first photo. The little fellas or gals are so lovely, and even more so as they grow older. Super shots. Cheers, Jean.

  2. Hi, I live in Ithaca and have squirrels constantly going up and down the tree right outside my living room window. Recently I've been seeing one with a blonde tail, which is something I've never seen before and I've living here for over 50 years. I guess they're not rare, from all the pictures I've seen online, but it was new to me!


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