Workers at the Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary in New Jersey thought they knew what they were dealing with.
After a little of squirrels was found abandoned in an attic, the sanctuary brought them in to care for them. Everyone thought it was a litter of grey squirrels. They all seemed normal and nothing unusual stood out.
That is, until, one of the babies started growing white fur, not grey.
Linda DeLorenzo, one of the wildlife rehabilitators, says it's not uncommon for baby squirrels to look white at that age...but as the week went on, his white fur didn't change color at all. In fact, it only got thicker.
The sanctuary has rescued and released over 1600 Eastern grey squirrels, but they had never come across one like this. The little guy was named Filbert, and he became a mystery to the workers.
When Filbert opened his eyes the mystery was revealed!
"We were all surprised Filbert was so white," DeLorenzo said. "We were interested to see if he was truly albino or if he was leucistic, which is a partial loss of pigment. If the squirrel had leucism, he'd have normal dark eyes, but if he was albino, he'd have red eyes."
When Filbert opened his eyes, it was confirmed that he was in fact, albino.
The sanctuary says that despite Filbert's coloring, he's the same as all his siblings. Running, climbing, hiding nuts (only to find them again later), and playing with her buddies are all part of Filbert's daily routine.
The only difference is that Filbert won't be getting released with his siblings.
"His absence of color leaves Filbert without his camouflage and would make him easy prey to the hawks, eagles and owls that hunt squirrels from the skies, and the bobcats, coyotes, foxes, feral cats, dogs and humans that hunt them from the ground," says DeLorenazo. "Also, animals with albinism often have poor eyesight."
Two of Filbert's sisters will be staying behind with him, to ensure the little guy doesn't get too lonely.
According to the University of Texas, only one out of every 100,000 gray squirrels is albino.
Happy Birthday Filbert, the albino squirrel.
He's two years old now.