THIS pure white squirrel with its pink eyes is causing a whole lot of excitement in Portsmouth.
And it is easy to understand why – the ghost-like creature is one of the rarest breeds of the bushy-tailed species that can be seen in the UK.
The albino squirrel has taken up home in the park off Morgan Road, Milton, and is believed to be just one of a handful alive in the UK.
It is estimated there are three to five million grey squirrels in the UK and one in 100,000 are born albino – meaning there could be fewer than 50 in the wild at any one time.
The animal was spotted by Kate and Mark Harris as they took a stroll through the park.
Kate said they couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the small creature scouring for food on the floor.
‘I didn’t notice it at first,’ she said.
‘My husband is far more observant than I am and spotted the white which he thought was unusual.
‘As soon as I saw him, I took out my camera and snapped a picture.’
She added: ‘It’s such a rare thing to see a white squirrel.
‘When we got home, Mark looked it up on the internet and found out there were only maybe 50 in the entire county.
‘It’s amazing that something so rare is here.’
The animal, which Kate’s two young children Sam and Bella have named ‘Snowy’, is believed to be part of a small colony of grey squirrels living in the park.
Kate added that Snowy had already proven to be a popular wintry addition to the area with the locals.
‘People are really quite excited by it,’ she said.
‘Snowy is quite tame and very friendly.
‘I think some of the squirrels in Victoria Park can be quite aggressive but Snowy is just really friendly.’
However, it is not the first time that an albino squirrel has been spotted within the Portsmouth area.
Wildlife lover John Goodspeed, of Cosham, runs the Havant Nature website and has followed the sightings for a number of years.
Speaking about the albino squirrels on his website, he wrote: ‘These animals have been fairly frequently seen in the Cosham and Purbrook areas for many years.
‘For some years – the mid-90s to the mid-noughties – they also spread into Hayling Island, Southsea and to the north.’
He added: ‘Many white squirrels are genetic colour variants of the grey species, as are the uncommon black squirrel. They breed normally and may have grey siblings.’
He said the coloration may ‘even provide some kind of survival advantage in the colonies where they’ thrive.
To report more sightings, visit havantnature.net