A RARE albino squirrel has become a familiar sight for the staff and students of the University of Portsmouth library.
Monty, as he has become affectionately known, can regularly be seen in the library gardens and nearby Ravelin Park, collecting acorns, leaping from tree to tree and even taking a slurp from the odd discarded milkshake.
University employee, Julie Eden, who works at nearby Ravelin House, said: ‘We have named him Monty after Lord Montgomery who apparently spent some time at Ravelin House. I look forward to seeing him every day. We put posts about Monty on social media and he even has his own hashtag.’
Librarian, Laura Palmer Bailey, added: ‘It’s nice to see something different – he can often be seen playing in the library garden. I live on the Isle of Wight which is one of the few places in the south where you can still see red squirrels. My family wouldn’t believe me when I told them I had seen an albino.’
Monty has proved to a be a real hit with staff at the library with work coming to a halt whenever he makes an appearance.
Senior library assistant, Patrick Galway, commented: ‘When we first saw him everyone just stood open mouthed. Whenever he appears we all like to stop and have a look at him.’
Albino squirrels are thought to be rare with one in 100,000 born with the pigment disorder.
The sighting of Monty has led to one library employee, who asked not to be named, to carry out her own research.
‘I’ve seen him several times since the summer but this is not the first albino squirrel in Portsmouth. I heard Chris Packham talking about albino squirrels on Springwatch and there’s apparently an unusual concentration in the Portsmouth and Southsea area,’ she said.
Wildlife lover, John Goodspeed, 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-nineties to mid-noughties – they also spread into Hayling Island, Southsea. Many white squirrels are genetic colour variants of the grey species. They breed normally and may have grey siblings. Only a few white squirrels are true albinos, recognisable by pink or blue eyes and the absence of pigmentation.’