Consider yourself lucky if you have ever spotted a white squirrel. So rare, the odds of seeing one are about one in 100,000 – unless you live in or near Kenton, TN; Marionville, MO; Brevard, NC; Olney, IL and Exeter, Ontario, Canada.
There are two basic types of white squirrel – albino and leucistic. Albinos have pink or red eyes and no dark pigments anywhere on their bodies. They account for 20-30% of the white squirrel population in North America. A version of the Eastern Grey Squirrel, those with white coats and dark eyes are called leucistic. Another type of white squirrel is predominantly white and sports a dark head patch and stripe on its back.
The scarcity of albino squirrels is thought to be at least partially linked to the animal’s lack of any dark eye pigment. This leaves them more susceptible to the harmful effects of sun rays, which can permanently damage their eyes. In turn, their poor eyesight makes them more likely to suffer injury and death by falling out of trees.
Because white squirrels lack the camouflage offered by the gray/brown fur of a typical gray squirrel, you would think they would be more susceptible to predators. Yet some experts say that may not be the case. They argue that hawks and other wild predators may not recognize a white squirrel as food, although they do stand out to some.
The gray squirrel is the most common species in Georgia. It is found statewide in both rural and urban areas. Even though gray squirrels are mostly beneficial to the environment, they are quite destructive when they enter homes. They may destroy electrical wiring and structurally important wooden beams during their attempts to build nests. They connect holes in eaves, soffits and roofs with a tree cavity, their natural nests, and move right in. Once inside, they consider it theirs, and they can be very difficult to get rid of. Scratching, gnawing, and pitter-patter sounds are a sure clue that you have a squirrel problem.
Another common problem associated with gray squirrels is their propensity for raiding, and sometimes even damaging, bird feeders. To prevent this problem, make sure when installing bird feeders that they are placed on steel poles at least six feet off the ground and far away from bushes and overhanging branches.
If gray squirrels are in and around your home and driving you nuts, it’s time to get help.