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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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