Saturday, September 23, 2006

Squirrel Gentrification in Silver Spring?

I don't know if I'm the only one who has noticed this, but it seems to me as if Silver Spring, or at least the part I live in, is home to a disproportionate number of albino squirrels. I've seen them scampering around for years. I saw one run by my window yesterday evening and was able to track it down and take some snapshots of it. I apologize for the graininess... it ran up a tree so I couldn't get really close enough for a proper portrait.





My photos make this one look kind of scary, but they are actually much cuter in person. Only one in 100,000 squirrels is born an albino, so one of these critters is a pretty rare site. Albino squirrels even have their own preservation society. Some towns take great pride in hosting white squirrel colonies, but Silver Spring has never been properly recognized for their albino squirrel population. We have the "pure" albino squirrels, too - the kind with the red eyes, not the inferior black-eyed white squirrels.

In addition to white squirrels, Silver Spring has LOTS of black squirrels, which until recently, I didn't even realize were uncommon. Someone had to get excited and say "wow, a black squirrel!" out in front of my house before I learned that this was an rare shade of squirrel. While not nearly as rare as albinos, only one out of every 10,000 squirrels is black. In my neighborhood, at least, black seems to be the predominant color of squirrel.

It turns out that Silver Spring's black squirrels are all descendants of 18 Canadian squirrels that were released at the National Zoo about a hundred years ago.

UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me, it just happens to be Squirrel Awareness Week!



10 comments:

Silver Spring Skins said...

Interesting! We've got tons of black squirrels around our house. I always wondered there were so many.

Rfustero said...

Many years ago when I was young(1968), and the Draft Board was located at Blair Park(Which is where Heidi Bakery was) I think it is called Blair Park, near the D.C. line on Ga. Ave., there were quite a number of albino squirrels.
The Park had quite a few of black walnut trees also-.

I have not been in that area in a while but I wonder if some of the albinos that you see are related.

Anonymous said...

Many black and albino squirrels also in the Woodside neighborhoods.

Terry said...

Ebony and ivory, eating acorns in perfect harmony.....

Sligo said...

Maybe we should start a White Squirrel festival in Silver Spring.

Terry said...

People would think we're nuts

Twoste said...

Reports that the black squirrels are attempting to turn the white squarrels over to the darkside of the force and that they, are in fact, their fathers are rumored to be false.

WashingtonGardener said...

I have NEVER seen a white squirrel in East/South downtown Silver Spring - I'm on the lookout now though! I'd say in my yard with I get about 3-4 grey-brown squirrels to every 1 black squirrel. Certainly not rare here. I have a bird feeder and pond on an urban corner with 4 large oak trees bearing bumper crops of acorns (no walnut trees around) so I get lots of squirrel traffic. Should I see any red-eyes, I'll let you know.

Sligo said...

WashingtonGardener,

I guess the squirrel gentrification hasn't started in your neighborhood yet. Watch for rising tree prices - that will be the first sign.

Woodsider said...

I have tons of black squirrels around my house, too. They love to drink out of the garden fountain.