White squirrels of Ballardvale

This year during my cross country season, my friend and I would sometimes run through the Shawsheen River Reservation to the Vale Reservation. We always saw a white squirrel running across the paths on our runs. I was fascinated by how beautiful the squirrel’s fur was. I am used to seeing gray squirrels running around everywhere but it was a surprise to see these white squirrels for the first time. Every subsequent time I went on that specific run, I made sure to look out for a white squirrel. One time while on our run, my friend and I ended up seeing three white squirrels run across the trail one right after the other. Even when I see a gray squirrel, I usually don’t see three all at once so it was very surprising. We kept looking behind us, trying to see them for as long as we could. White squirrels aren’t very common in our area which makes it more exciting to see them. Surprisingly, we saw more white squirrels than gray ones on the Shawsheen River and the Vale Reservations. It was captivating seeing the white squirrels run around in the brown and green trails in the fall. Their fur was so bright compared to their surroundings it made them look magical, and it made me want to learn more about them.

Channel 5 Boston did a news post on December 14, 2021, on these same white squirrels. You can watch their report from the Chronicle here where they interviewed AVIS Warden of the Vale Reservation, Ken Doran. They noted that lots of people had been seeing these white squirrels running around the Ballardvale area. They also mentioned that some would think these white squirrels were “albino” but they are actually still part of the Sciurus carolinensis squirrel species also more commonly known as the eastern gray squirrel species. These squirrels end up being white because of a genetic mutation called leucism that reduces the pigmentation of the squirrel. If you are interested in reading more about these squirrels you can read this article from the Coastal and Marine Laboratory here which gives different facts about these squirrels that you may not know. Although these squirrels have gotten the most attention in the Ballardvale area, they can be found in other areas outside of Andover as well.

I hope to go back soon to see if I can spot any with the snow on the ground. Have you noticed any white squirrels out on your walks?

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