The squirrels in Lycoming County have been stepping out and displaying some surprising colors this year.
In early February, locals were treated to a daring new purple-hued squirrel, a perfect color to summon spring.
Now with the summer months upon us, one fashionable squirrel has stepped out in a pure, snow white coat, perfect for reflecting the heat of the sun.
SUBMITTED BY CLAUDE CULBRETH Jr.
Squirrel with a coat of white fur was spotted several times in the 1500 blocks of High Street and Park Avenue.
Claude Culbreth Jr. of 1505 High St. was treated to the spectacle when he noticed the trendy squirrel high atop a pine tree in his back yard.
"It's amazing to see it. It's really pure white," said Culbreth, who snapped photos and submitted them to the Sun-Gazette.
"I've seen it almost every morning up in the pine tree. It seems to be happy, fat and healthy," he added
Not for the faint-of-heart squirrel, this head-to-toe crisp white is an eye-catcher, sure to grab attention wherever it scurries.
"White animals do alright in the wild, usually. They have to be more careful because that white doesn't blend into the environment the way black, grey, or brown does," said Tony Ross, wildlife management supervisor for the state game commission.
But don't call the squirrel in Culbreth's yard an albino, Ross advised. Instead of the usual pink and white combination, this squirrel has a chique black and white color scheme. And like all fashion risk takers, this squirrel didn't have to work at it's daring pallet.
It was just born that way.
"This color phase - the white fur with black eyes - is called leucistic," Ross said.
"It's another type of recessive gene trait, like albinism, but a true albino will have pink eyes," he said.
The blinding white may stand out in the summer, but in the winter months it blends into the barren, snowy landscape. Like everyone in the public eye, this lets the squirrel have some much needed time away from prying predators.
"Really, white color phases work out well for an area that gets a lot of snow in the winter, like we do up north here. That's a survival benefit of the color phase," Ross said.
But white is not the only color of squirrel locals will be treated to this year. Ross said to look out for black, brown, as well as the standard grey squirrel, as all are prevalent in Pennsylvania.
A leucistic or albino squirrel is, however, a sight to behold, according to Ross.
"I will say in over 20 years of working for the game commission, I've only ever seen one white grey squirrel, so it is pretty special," Ross said.