White Squirrels in Henderson County

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The white squirrel phenomena in western North Carolina is a popular topic of conversation among locals and an attraction for tourists. Local shops sell souvenirs based on the animal. Tourists prize a personal photo of the critter most of all.

white squirrel

The White Squirrel and Albino Squirrel Phenomena video

So what is the story on our local white squirrels? Are they albinos? Did they escape a circus or a lab?

Actually, our local population is a naturally occurring lighter colored variation of the native gray squirrel. In fact, many of our white squirrels will have gray hair on their heads and/or backs. So, essentially our white squirrels are just a genetic variation of the common gray squirrel. White squirrels are not common in rural areas due to their inability to hide effectively from predators. In urban areas where there are fewer predators, white squirrels can survive to breed more readily.

Albino white squirrels do exist. These solid white animals carry a gene for white pigmentation and will have pink eyes. Albino squirrels are very uncommon.

Squirrels can also exhibit a rare genetic black hair mutation. ‘Melanism’ is the term for animals who carry the genes for solid black hair pigmentation. These animals are rare.

white squirrels

Hopefully, if you live in Henderson County, you have seen white squirrels. If not, there is a good chance to see them in Jackson Park where there is a population.

Brevard, NC hosts the White Squirrel Festival in March annually.

White squirrel Festival Brevard

white squirrel statue