Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Great Snowy Mississippi Squirrel

I first spotted this fellow looking out my bathroom window, but, being busy and not having a camera handy, I could not get a shot. About a week later he (HE being the default gender for squirrels in my mind.) came right up onto our patio and we were able to snap quite a few shots. He even posed nicely at times.

The title of my post is, of course, tongue in cheek. There is no such thing as a snowy squirrel, and if there were, (or if I am wrong and there IS) I can guarantee you it is not indigenous to Mississippi.

The sighting of our oddity led to an afternoon's discussion of genetics and dominant and recessive genes. Seriously, what homeschool family would NOT segue spotting an albino ANYTHING in the wild to a biology lesson?

Would it not be cool if more and more white squirrels were born in this neighborhood? His presence obviously shows that some of the squirrels are carriers of the gene. If he mates up properly it could happen. Somehow I doubt squirrels are too picky about inbreeding. This is Mississippi, after all. (JOKING!)

In the neighborhood (if not a wider area of the town) where my mother-in-law's family home is the squirrels are black. I assumed at first that this was a regional difference. After all, I had heard of red squirrels but only ever seen grey. Turns out, I learned later, that it is a different species, but not one native to eastern Kentucky. The story I was told was that there was a local man who imported pet squirrels from Europe that eventually escaped.

It is easy to take something like what color a squirrel should be for granted. Seeing the black squirrels years ago in Kentucky, and now this white one...the change stands out immediately when you see it.

I suppose it says something about how safe our neighborhood is for wildlife. There is a reason albinism is so rare, and recessive genetics is only part of it.

Without zoom (wildlife photography must have been a nightmare before zoom.)

On the patio

Giving me a look

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