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White Squirrels of Exeter

White Squirrel 1

I never gave much thought to the color of squirrels until I heard a report on the CBC about the presence of white squirrels in Exeter , Ontario .  In most parts of the world, most squirrels are grey, some are black and very few are white.  These little white guys are not albinos but actually colored white (some are a very light shade of beige or off-white) and  have normal colored eyes (versus the classic albino red).  This coloration is said to be the result of a genetic mutation.

Exeter has put little white squirrels on their lampposts, side-

profiles on garbage cans, iron cutouts in a variety of poses up and down the main strip and even hosts a White Squirrel Festival once a year.  With all of this fanfare, we were expecting to roll into town, hit the park, take a bunch of great pictures, and head on out again, but this was not the case...

We couldn't find any in the local park despite sitting still in a variety of locations. A local woman who had come to the park to read in peace (so much for peace with us snooping about!) suggested this was because there is not a lot of food lying about the park.  She suggested that our best strategy would be to head down into a more residential environment, just off the main strip.  She directed us to an area full of detached homes facing a little playground.  We grabbed a seat on a park bench and began our stake-out. [Imagine Mission Impossible theme song playing in your mind at this point]. Within 15 minutes or so, we did finally catch a glimpse of two little guys, off in the distance on someone’s front lawn, but whenever we tried to approach them, they bolted away... not even paying a lick of attention to the peanuts we had for them. They were totally camera shy! Of course, we were stalking them (I would be afraid of us too) but city squirrels seem to have a much thicker skin!

We sat and waited, cruised up and down streets and did our very best to find out where they liked to hang out.  In the end,
Garbage can in Exeter with picture of White Squirrel

it took us about an hour and a half to get a few half decent pictures. We saw 5 or 6 different white squirrels but only got pictures from two.

If you want to try your luck in the same residential-area park that we did, here are some directions for you: From Main St., turn left (or West) onto Huron Street West . The park is on the left-hand side about 2 streets up. The squirrels will probably be hanging out on lawns or in trees near houses rather than in the park itself. 

Happy Squirrel Scoping!

White Squirrel in tree White Squirrel in tree eating Acorn
White Squirrel on pavement
This guy was duo-toned white (or maybe just dirty?), and the easiest to photograph.
Sign post in exeter with picture of Squirrel
White Squirrel in tree lounding
White squirrels in Exeter even have their own parade! (September 24-25 in 2007)
Back to Exter: We were heading to London for the London Balloon Festival, and though we would make a pit stop in Exter to get a few more pictures of the white squirrels
This guy was really cheeky! When we put peanuts down for him to eat, he would wait until we went way before coming down to eat them... the second we came back, he was gone like a shot! He just lay in the tree relaxing.

A bigger surprise to me is that Black squirrels can be something of a rarity outside of Ontario (they are all over the place here...). When I asked Nancy, she said it was a huge surprise to see black squirrels here, after living all her life in Quebec (Some parts of Quebec actually do have some black squirrels, but not in her area)

Common every day backyard grey squirrel (actually my back yard... I didn't even leave my house for this picture!)
Squirrels are usually known for their puffy tails, but this guys was a little bare. Don't worry, he's just shedding for the summer (Check out the poor guy at the bottom of the page!)
It's quite a common site to see Squirrels with patchy bald spots on their bodies in spring. They look a bit like rats without the poofy tail :)