If there is one thing that we are not short of in Canada, it is squirrels. Whether it is the black, bushy kind or the brown and wiry kind, they are literally everywhere! While most Canadians have probably seen thousands of squirrels throughout their life, there is one kind of squirrel that most of us will probably never manage to spot - the super rare, snow-white coloured squirrel!
Luckily for one couple in Yukon, they managed to get up close and personal with the rare rodent this week, and even managed to snap a few photos of him!
Speaking to CBC News, Steve Buyck explained that he’d initially thought the bright-white creature was a weasel, but the bushy tail was a giveaway! Realizing that this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Buyck quickly grabbed his camera to take a picture of the squirrel, and was fortunate enough to get a great shot!
"It was really quick…. It just took right off," Buyck explained.
He and his wife, Elizabeth Blair, were lucky enough to spot the rare creature when out driving near Gravel Lake, close to their home in Stewart Crossing, Yukon. As Blair is from the White River First Nation, she spoke to her aunt about their encounter, who told her the animal’s name would be dlak degay in Northern Tutchone.
The couple added that they’d lived “in the bush” all of their lives, and never had they seen anything like this squirrel!
Speaking to CBC News, wildlife harvest specialist Meghan Larivee also agreed that the squirrel was super rare. While it would initially appear that the squirrel was an albino, Larivee explained that it was more likely to be a red squirrel with a “leucistic gene.” She notes that the critter’s dark-coloured eye suggests it is not an albino, as a feature of albinism is a “pinky-colour” in the eyes.
"[With leucism], the skin is a whiter colour, the hair is a whiter colour, but it doesn't actually affect the eyes. Whereas in albinism, it's a complete loss of pigmentation.," she said.
It seems that it not only squirrels that have the potential to be bright white, as a white raccoon was also spotted in Ontario earlier this year! The raccoon, believed to be an albino, was spotted loitering around in someone’s back garden - he didn’t even have a striped tail!
While Larivee is confident that the squirrels condition would not cause him any sort of discomfort or harm, she did note that it could make him easier prey for predators in the area.
If you’re exploring around the Yukon this weekend, keep your eyes peeled for one of these unusual critters! You never know when you might see one again!
Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.