A Red Squirrel going Grey?

cynthianovakSeptember 29, 2013

Sorry, the image is blurry, has to shoot it from inside house, through the window. He is grey all the way down his back to the base of his tail. Looks like a squirrel in opossum cape and mask. Have you seen anything like this?

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cynthianovak

See his back?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 12:01PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

Never seen anything like it among the dozens we have around here each year. The grey back with red belly does look odd. A grey squirrel/fox squirrel hybrid? Old age?

Thanks for sharing the photo.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 1:53PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Never seen that coloration on a squirrel. Maybe he's leucistic or lacks pigmentation on part of his fur?

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 4:37PM
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cynthianovak

He's a mystery. In the Spring we spotted him about a block away. Noticed that the folks who moved into that house are away. Guess he goes where the bird seed flows. Haven't seen him this weekend, probably other feeders or I just was out when he dropped in. Thanks for taking a look....c

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 8:25PM
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suetx(N TX)

There are three of these squirrels around my mom's house in Kansas. One is very similar to the one you showed with a white strip from his head all the way down to his tail. There are also two others that have white spots on their backs. They have been hanging around her yard for several years. I tried to find information on them online, but didn't find anything. She did say that the other squirrels didn't treat them any different, because of their coloring. Got to love my 93 year old mom!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 11:35PM
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suetx(N TX)

I found a picture of one of the squirrels.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 11:49PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Suetx, thanks for finding and posting the picture. It looks to be marked exactly like the one Cynthia pictured! I'm going to see if anyone on the GW "Name This Animal" forum knows anything about these unusual squirrels.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 12:33AM
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cynthianovak

Suetx ...so there are more of them! I call him Seriously Silver Squirrel. Have not spotted him since last Friday. I would love to know what causes this very distinctive pattern. Thank You!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 12:58AM
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suetx(N TX)

Just checked with my mom and she hasn't seen her squirrels for several months. We think they showed up about 8 or 9 years ago, which is pretty amazing. She lives in Wichita, so it isn't a rural area. Hope you all figure out what kind they are.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 12:35PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Cynthia, the name Seriously Silver Squirrel just made me laugh out loud :-)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 12:47PM
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lazy_gardens

Strange ... very strange. Yes, it does look like he's wearing Possum-man's cape. Or a really bad hairpiece.

My guess would be it's a variation of the gene that controls the color of the hairs ... what is normally the reddish pigment is absent, so you have the black parts still there, making the whole thing look greyish. But normally that will affect the whole body.

But I'm not a wildlife biologist. Maybe they have a name for this.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 3:50PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

No one has replied to the "Name This Animal" query. They are usually pretty fast on the draw over there.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 4:01PM
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lazy_gardens

Looking as some discussions of squirrel genetics ... the possumback squirrels seem to be the inverse of the "Brevard white squirrels".

Your squirrels are doing it in reverse, with the melanin deficiency restricted to the guard hairs that are normally black-tipped in the red squirrel.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 4:12PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

It's a beautiful animal and apparently a rare color variation that amazingly showed up in two places many miles from each other. I'm glad I got to see photos of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucism

Only reply so far ....

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Web

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 11:26PM
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cynthianovak

Roselee thank you for this link. Seems odd that what is described as an apparently random pattern is the same pattern in these two squirrel images. Nature is magical smiling..... BTW Cheeky the parakeet never did let me catch him and I have not seen him for 2 weeks now. Deep sigh. Fortunately I have not seen any feathers. Hope he went with a flock of grackles to the mall.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 12:22AM
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suetx(N TX)

Thanks for finding this information. I do think that is exactly what the squirrels have. Of the three that my mom had, only one had the full back marking and the other two were spotted white. We thought they were probably from the same litter. I looked for pictures of the spotted ones, but I must have not taken any. It is amazing that the two squirrels, 350 miles apart would have the same markings. Thanks again for solving this mystery.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 1:55PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

PkPonder suggested genetic reduced pigmentation, leucism, from the very start. It was just nice to get some verification that it wasn't an exotic pet that escaped. Thank you lazygardens for your input also.

This post was edited by roselee on Fri, Oct 4, 13 at 14:40

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 2:38PM
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