Rare albino squirrel caught on camera in Portsmouth cemetery

AN AMATEUR photographer from Portsmouth has been ‘very lucky’ in snapping a white albino squirrel – believed to be one of only 50 in Britain.

Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 2:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th May 2020, 5:33 pm

Steve Patten, who works for BAE Systems in the city and took up photography as a hobby a few months ago, captured on camera the white albino squirrel at Kingston Cemetery on Saturday.

The 61-year-old was taking a walk with his wife for exercise at midday when he caught sight of the rare critter.

He said: ‘It’s one of the more extraordinary things I have seen.

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A white albino squirrel seen in Kingston Cemetary, Portsmouth. Picture: Steve Patten

‘They are very rare. I do feel quite lucky to have seen one.’

But it’s not the first time the Cyprus Road resident has seen the eye-catching animal.

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He added: ‘I had seen one in Southsea before – this was sometime last year. I didn’t have my camera then.’

Steve Patten said he was 'very lucky' to get the shots of the animal with the rare condition in Kingston Cemetary, Portsmouth. Pictures: Steve Patten

Last October, staff at the University of Portsmouth became so accustomed to seeing an albino squirrel visiting Ravelin Park, on the university’s campus, that they gave him a name – Monty.

It’s not clear whether Steve has caught sight of Monty – or if Portsmouth has more than one squirrel with the rare condition.

Though there are 2.5 million grey squirrels in the UK, it is believed there are just 50 that are albinos.

They are an uncommon sight partly because they are more vulnerable to predators, according to a spokeswoman from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Albino squirrel spotted at Ravelin Park, Portsmouth, in October 2019. Picture: Habibur Rahman

She said: ‘True albinism is the complete lack of colour pigments and as well as white fur they will have pink/red eyes.

‘Sightings have been reported before in Hampshire.

‘But likely due to the fact albino animals tend to be more vulnerable to predators such as foxes and birds of prey, because they stand out in the environment and have poorer eyesight, it is not common to see them.’

Anyone who sees an albino animal is encouraged to report it to the trust, helping it build a complete record of species distribution across Hampshire, with more information available on hiwwt.org.uk/species-records

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