White-tailed squirrels are rare as only a few of the mutated offspring have to suffer from loss of pigment cells in some regions of the bodies, including the tail. They have beautiful hairy tails that are extended from the back end and appear in color similar to their bodies, as brown animals have brown tails.
Are Squirrels with White Tails Rare? Squirrels with white tails are rare as it occurs due to genetic abnormality that is uncommon in these animals. The tails appear light in color when the recessive allele for body pigmentation is expressed in offspring after mating between carrier parents. Moreover, it is not related to albinism as is Leucism which involves the loss of all pigments from certain body parts, making them appear colorless.
Furthermore, the environmental factors are responsible for light-colored tails in deer, but some biological factors can also account for such issues in animals.
Are white-tailed squirrels common?
It is not common to see squirrels moving in the lawns and gardens with white-tails on their bodies.
Some people have seen such an awful combination of colors when their bodies appear brownish, and their tails appear light in color.
Most probably, you have seen completely white furry animals without any change of color in the specific regions of the body as the whole body appears colorless.
They are uncommon globally, but you can find them commonly at a specific location as the mutation is passed on from parents to offspring when their carrier parents mate.
So, it is specifically present in the genetic line as the character can only be transferred to the offspring when their mother has a recessive allele or light-colored tail.
Therefore, you can find them in closely related offspring and retained in a single-family when the offspring mate successively and pass on the recessive trail to the next generation.
Where are white-tailed squirrels found?
White-tailed squirrels and albino animals differ with a minor variation in the partial or complete suppression of the dominant alleles for pigmentation.
The furry animals having colorless tails are present in Mexico, Arizona, Southern California, and Western Colorado. In addition, you can also find them in Utah, Nevada, and Oregon.
Moreover, they are also present in desert habitats and select shrubby areas having rocky soil to live and reproduce.
However, the albino animals having complete pigment loss from their bodies are present in Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, and Brevard.
They have been spotted in the Minnesota and Iowa regions roaming on the lawns.
Furthermore, brown furry animals with light-colored tails have been seen in Ann Arbor and Wayland City Park.
Why are squirrels with white tails rare?
Many people consider that squirrels with white tails suffer from albinism, but it is another type of genetic disease that leads to colorless spots on body parts.
White-tailed squirrels are rare as they are produced after a genetic mutation in the pigment cells that allow melanin production and give color.
The melanin pigment does not get deposited on the feathers after expressing the recessive alleles in the offspring obtained from their parents.
In addition, it is an inherited disease that passes on to the next generation when one of the parents has recessive alleles that cause Leucism.
The position and the extent of discoloration are different in young and adults, and the onset of the disease depends on the transfer of recessive alleles, but it can get skipped in some generations.
Therefore, a combination of recessive alleles rarely appears in the offspring and reduces the chances of production of these animals.
Are white-tailed squirrels albino?
Albinism is a genetic problem like Leucism, but its impact on the organism is different as people with albinism cannot be white-tailed as their bodies appear lighter in color ultimately.
The relevant genes control melanin production responsible for pigmentation of hair and eyes and get mutated sometimes.
Almost 22% to 30% of squirrels are albino in North America when the recessive gene expresses in their cells affects melanin production and reduces its amount to a minimum.
Moreover, it is a genetic condition when parents are carriers of the mutant gene and transfer traits to their albino offspring. As a result, the affected organisms can loose skin, feathers, and eye colors.
Albino animals have no pigments and red eyes on their bodies and feathers. In addition, they have weak immune systems and hearing problems that can decrease their life.
However, Leucism involves the reduction of all pigments in a particular body region, while albinism occurs due to the suppression of only one or two colors.
The pigment cells lack tyrosinase leading to decreased ability of cells to produce melanin and cause albinism.
However, the pigment cells are absent in the feathers leading to the production of animals with white tails.
It is not responsible for changes in eye color and hair color from different regions of the affected organism.
Leucism is more common than albinism as some regions of animal bodies can lose pigment normally, but a complete loss of color occurs rarely.
What type of squirrels can have white tails?
Every type of squirrel, including those moving on the ground and climbing on trees, can have white tails when they receive a recessive trait for color from their parents.
It can lead to the disappearance of natural fur color in brown or red squirrels. Most commonly, ground squirrels have been observed with such mutation of pigment cells, particularly those having brown and grey bodies.
The tree squirrels can also have colorless tails having little or no pigment in that region as the specific cells are absent.
You can look at the black, grey, red, and other types of these furry animals with white feathers having colorful bodies. It indicates that they have got recessive alleles from their mother.
Furthermore, the white-tailed antelope squirrel is a ground squirrel species with flattened tails with light color strips on their bodies that start from the shoulder and end at the bottom.
In addition, their tails and lower bodies appear light in color, that had led to their name as they are called as white-tailed animals and are present in arid regions of the US and Mexico.