From time to time we get random animal questions from readers. I figured I’d answer some of the fun ones here. Got an intriguing animal query? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q Can you figure out what kind of squirrel this is or what is going on with his coat?
A. This is probably a grey squirrel, but maybe a fox squirrel. “Foxers” can be bigger and have a more orange coat. People who have never seen a real red squirrel (which are tiny and extremely chatty) often call them red squirrels. You can tell the difference by looking at their bellies: gray squirrels have white or grey bellies. Fox squirrels have a nice light orange tummy.
As for what’s going on with that awful coat, it could be more than one thing. The white fur looks like this could be a partially leucistic squirrel, that is, one that lacks pigment in some of its fur, but has regularly colored eyes (as opposed to albino red eyes).
When squirrels are having a bad hair day, people assume it’s mange, but it’s probably not. Most likely it’s a normal molting process. Squirrels shed their summer coat for a warmer winter one and vice versa. It could also be bad nutrition or injury–though it’s hard to imagine a squirrel getting injured over this much of his body and surviving.
Do you have any insight into this squirrel’s odd appearance? Leave it in the comments below.
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