Have You Seen the Albino Squirrel?

The albino squirrel: both a marvel and a mystery to the Iowa State community. Something about these pale woodland creatures turn students into wildlife enthusiasts and amateur photographers.

White Squirrel

[Look at how its tail flows majestically in the wind.]

Why are students so interested in this little critter? Well, legend says that if you see the fabled albino squirrel scampering around campus, you are 100% more likely to pass your next exam. It’s simple, right?

These little guys are all over the place. I’m talking news article after news article, photographs and web pages dedicated to preserve them. There is even a Twitter about the Albino Squirrel.

squirrel-tweets

[I can’t be the only one who just imagined a squirrel with a keyboard or an iPhone…]

I know from personal experience that finding the white squirrel has brighten up my day. Wait, did you say ‘white?’ I thought the squirrels were albino!

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BREAKING NEWS! The albino squirrels that we see on campus aren’t actually albino. Albinism, in humans, is described as complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. Notable physical traits would be pale skin, white hair and possibly having pale often-pinkish eyes.

Albinism is hereditary as it results from the inheritance of recessive gene alleles and is known to affect all vertebrates, much like our tree-climbing friends. How can you tell? Just look closely at its eyes.

If the little, white ball of fluff has dark brown eyes, then the animal is NOT an albino. It would actually be referred to as a leucistic (lee-yoo-cistic)  squirrel. They have all the same traits of their albino relatives, minus the pink eyes.

Great! Mystery solved right? Well not exactly. We still don’t actually know where the infamous white squirrel originated from. While they roam our campus freely, they aren’t indigenous to Ames or even Iowa for that matter. We do, however, know where other white squirrels can be seen.

According to the Biomes of the World website, these are the following locations where white squirrels can be found:

  • Marionville, Missouri
  • Brevard, North Carolina
  • Olney, Illinois
  • Kenton, Tennessee
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Exeter, Ontario Canada

The white squirrel is definitely a marvel here at ISU, but hopefully not a huge mystery anymore. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t you have a squirrel to find?

Chases Squirrel

For more information about our furried friends, make sure to check the Daily’s new podcast The Daily Weekly. Yours truly is on the team so you can hear me and my team cover stories for the Ames community. Guess what my first story was?

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