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Southeastern Illinois’ White Squirrels of Olney



White Squirrel. Photo by Owen Wolter.

White Squirrel. Photo by Owen Wolter.

The south­east­ern Illinois town of Olney has gar­nered national atten­tion for being the “White Squirrel Capital of the World.” The fall is a per­fect time to visit Olney and check out these won­der­ful albino squirrels.

There are sev­eral dif­fer­ing accounts of the dis­cov­ery of the white squir­rels, but they gen­er­ally put the date of dis­cov­ery of the first male/female pair as 1902. In 1941, there were approx­i­mately 800 white squir­rels, but the pop­u­la­tion declined over the years, prompt­ing city ordi­nances that dis­al­low dogs and cats from run­ning around at large. Olney has also obtained a wildlife reha­bil­i­ta­tion per­mit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Olney holds a squir­rel count each fall, with both white and gray squir­rels being counted. This year makes the 31st annual squir­rel count, which is held every Saturday in October.

The best time to squir­rel watch is early in the morn­ing. Several good loca­tions exist for view­ing the squir­rels in their nat­ural habi­tat, includ­ing Olney City Park, Millers Grove and res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods with mature trees and feed­ing stations.

While you’re vis­it­ing Olney, be sure to pay a visit to the 935 acre East Fork Lake, where you can get in some fish­ing, boat­ing, camp­ing and hiking.

If you visit, be care­ful, because the white squir­rels have the right of way on all streets in the town!

Be sure to check out Garden of the Gods: Visiting Southern Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest, the next arti­cle in our Fall Outings in Southern Illinois series!


Related posts:

  1. Fall Outings in Southern Illinois
  2. Garden of the Gods: Visiting Southern Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest
  3. Sock Monkey Madness vis­its Rockford, Illinois
  4. Eagle Watching in Illinois
  5. The River Pirates of Cave-In-Rock

4 comments to Southeastern Illinois’ White Squirrels of Olney

  • dawn distefano

    saw a white squir­rel in rochester troy area of michi­gan did not see if it had red eyes or not but am 41 years old and have fed and seen plenty of squir­rels but have never seen a white one! any sight­ings in michi­gan that you have heartd of?

  • Ron

    Apparently there are two types of white squir­rels, ones that are truly albino and ones that aren’t. The non-albino ones are not as rare and I’ve read reports of pop­u­la­tions of them in Ohio and Canada, so I wouldn’t rule out Michigan.

    If you do hap­pen to see one, please let us know and send a pic­ture if you can!

  • Heather

    i’ve seen two white squir­rels in royal oak i seen the forst one a few mon­thes ago. and just yes­ter­day i seen a lit­tle baby!

  • Ron

    Just this after­noon I saw a report on Fox News about an albino squir­rel in a town in England that was hit and killed by a car. I guess they’re a bit more wide­spread, though I assume still rare, than I’d orig­i­nally thought!

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