Yesterday we decided to take a break from office work and go in search of a white squirrel. There is a small population of white squirrels just half an hour away from where we live in Brevard, North Carolina, and it was time for us to visit them. The white squirrels are so famous in Brevard that they even have their own white squirrel festival.

Are These Albino White Squirrels?

First, all Brevard’s white squirrels (and almost all white squirrels found in North America) are actually gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), exactly the same species we often see wandering through trees here in the eastern United States. So where did the white color come from? Brevard’s white squirrels are not albinos. Albinism is a rare ailment in which a person does not produce pigment (melanin) in the hair, skin or eyes. It follows from this that squirrels have white fur and pink eyes.

However, most white squirrels observed in the United States have a white morphology known as leucistic, which means they have reduced coat pigmentation. Unlike albinos, leukemic individuals have dark eyes. Other examples of leukemic animals are the white lions in South Africa and the spirit bear in the rainforests of the Great Bear in Canada.

However, Brevard’s white squirrel is different from any of them. Their fur is capable of secreting pigment, but it does so only in a very limited area (the upper part of the head and the middle of the back). It is as if a white spot on the belly of an ordinary gray squirrel has spread outwards, covering most of the body. There are several complex theories about how this could happen.

Are There Any Black Squirrels?

Yes, there are completely black squirrels. They are also the color morphology of the eastern gray squirrel. These proteins produce too much melanin, hence their black coloration. Black proteins are also called melanin proteins. Like white squirrels, there are several colonies in the eastern United States and Canada (for example, around the Washington, DC Zoo).)

Where can I see white squirrels in

North Carolina?

To see white squirrels in North Carolina, it is best to go to the city of Brevard in western North Carolina. Our recommended places to see them are Franklin Park and the adjacent Brevard College Park. To respect the privacy of residents, stay in public territory when searching for white squirrels.

If you come in the fall, you can see white squirrels on the ground hunting for nuts and collecting dry leaves to build their nests.

These animals are so popular in Transylvania County that in 1986 the Brevard City Council voted unanimously for an ordinance declaring and establishing a sanctuary for white squirrels.

Are there other populations of white squirrels in the United States?

In addition to Brevard, several other cities claim to be the “home of the white squirrel,” including Kenton, Tennessee; Marionville, Missouri; Olney, Illinois; and Exeter, Ontario. But white squirrels can be seen everywhere in the general range of gray squirrels. Here is a great map of white squirrel sightings in the United States and Canada. But obviously Brevard boasts more white squirrels than anywhere else, with a population of about 1,000 individuals within the city limits, which makes up a staggering 40% of the gray squirrel population here.

Grey, white and red?

If you want to see grey, white and red squirrels, maybe you can see them all on the same day. After seeing gray and white squirrels in Brevard, you can simply go to the Cataluchi Valley, which is located east of the Smoky eminence National Park. It is the southern tip of the Red Squirrel Ridge in the eastern United States. If you’re lucky, like us, you’ll see a red squirrel in the Smoky eminence.