Freaks of Nature or not?
Freaks of Nature or Not?
No,white squirrels are not freaks of nature or some kind of circus animal. They are a type of albinos squirrels. They have white fur and pink eyes. They are probably the main attraction of my town, Olney. Olney is very famous for these creatures. Olney boasts and even has a town trademark for these creatures. Guest. Yep, the trademark is "Home of the White Squirrels." How original. In our city park, a person can actually see one of these squirrels. There are very tame so they will probably be eating in one of the squirrel feeders. The white squirrels are very rare to see now in the ‘90’s. What I mean by this is that if you would happen to come to Olney, white squirrels wouldn’t just be everywhere you looked. Usually you can find one or two of them in the park if you look hard enough.
The white squirrels made their first apperance in 1902. There were spotted 5 1/4 miles south and 3/4 miles east of Sumner in Lukin Township (Lawrenceville County) on the farm of George W. Ridgley. White squirrels were found in the black oak timber that partially surrounded the farm building. Homer and his neighbor John Robinson caught some white squirrels by building an 8-foot by 6-foot cage. It was necessary to obtain a government permit to do this.
People came from far and near to see these squirrels an to wonder about them. That’s the part where I came up with "Freaks of Nature." Well anyway, J.C. Banks bought a female and a male white squirrel for $5. The two were put in a wire cage, taken to Olney, and placed in exhibition in Jaspar Bank’s Saloon.
A law against keeping caged animals was then passed and Mayor Tippit asked his son Thomas Tippet, Jr. to turn the squirrels loose in the Tipper woods, on North Silver Street. Thomas took the squirrels to the woods and turned the pink-eyed creatures lose. As soon as the squirrels were released, a largefox squirrel dropped from a tree and killed the male. Thomas shot the fox squirrel as it was advancing on the female albino. Weeks later, baby white squirrels were seen in the woods and the white squirrel population BEGAN!
In 1925, a city oridinance was passed that protects the albino colony. A white squirrel has the "right of way" on any street in Olney. If a motorist tries to run one of these squirrels over and exceeds, or even if it is just an accident, they will be fined a big $25! The same fine applies to anyone taking one of the animals out of town. Olney residents found that their squirrels don’t surivive outiside of the city limits.
In 1945, a bill was introduced in the legislature by Representative Homer Kasserman of Newton, Ill and Clyde Lee of Mt. Vernon, Ill to protect the white squirrels. The Illinois State Law is as follows: Chapter 61, Article 174, Paragraph 40. "It is unlawful for any person to take white squirrels in this state at any time." This means exactly what one of Olney oridinances is. That no one can take a white squirrel out of Olney.
In the mid 1970’s, John Stencel, instructor at Olney Central College, received a small grant from the Illinois Academy of Science to study the white squirrel. He is also the head of the white squirrel count every year in fall. From recent counts, the number of squirrels in Olney is dropping. Then the white squirrels dip below 100, Stencel says, they are concerned about genetic drifts, a boilogical force that speeds up the extinction of a small population. That sucks. From what I’ve read from other information, I have found that the squirrel population might be even increasing. This may be so because white squirrels are now moving into the country and even other counties. The have been seen in Newton (county seat in neighboring county).
Olney is proud of the squirrels. Every policeman and fireman has an outline of the bushy tailed animal as a shoulder patch on his unifrom. The white squirrels re one of Olney’s proudest boasts and the town’s trademark.
The population of the squirrels at one time was estimated 1,000. It is now estimated at 200. They now are in the country like I said because the residents out there feed them regularly. Some even name them and take as their "pets." Many white squirrels live in the City Park along eith their gray counterparts. The squirrels reproduce of course. In fact, the gray squirrels often carry a recessive trait for albinism. This means that a gray mother squirrel has a one and four chance of giving birth to a white squirrel. The chances are even greater if the father squirrel also carries the white squirrel trait. So the poulation, though decreased, is not in danger of becoming extinct.
The squirrels’s suggested diet includes corn, nuts, and bird seeds; though htey love junk food such as french fries and Oreo cookies. Many squirrels are friendly and will eat right out of your hand. These animals are really tame. They will eat straight from your hand and even sit on your lap if your hungry enough. They will follow you around until they are completely full of food.
The white squirrels are true albinos, so they do not see or hear as well as other squirrels. This makes then easier from predators, sometimes dogs and cats, to catch and wound. Dogs and cats are more likely to injure baby white squirrels. I think the is also an oridinance stating that if a dog or cat attacks a white squirrel, the owner will I have to pay I fine. I am not sure, but I will try to check up on it.
[Links to other White Squirrels pages]
[On Display Or In Real Life]
[I Have An Idea!]