While some people enjoyed my last column about squirrels, others were quick to remind me that I left out something locally important, the white squirrels in Enon.
The village has been home to white squirrels for as long as anyone can remember. It seems like they have always been there and they are found from one end of Enon to another and the surrounding area. A few white squirrels have been noticed in Bethel Township. Doris Pearson Dressel notes seeing one as she was growing up.
However, the white squirrel population seems to be centered around Enon. Some folks think the white squirrel should be the town mascot as it is in Olney, Ill., and Marionville, Mo.
Such local color variations are generally caused by a population of squirrels carrying the white gene being isolated from other major gray squirrel populations by something that hampers their moving from tree to tree like fields, and interstate highways.
It seems that most Enon residents have a white squirrel story.
“I know that there were about five of them within a four-house block here,” said Denise Bockelman, who lives near Indian Valley Middle School. “I thought they were all gone, but I saw a young one right before it turned cold.”
Mad River Township Trustee Kathy Estep has a white squirrel in her front yard in Houck Meadows. The squirrel centers activities around a tree in her front yard to the joy of the Estep cats, who watch from the front window. Estep has a photo of the cats and white squirrel virtually nose to nose through the front window. I don’t know who was the most curious about the other.
There was one white squirrel that regularly ran across Rebert Pike next to the Indian Valley soccer fields until that fateful day that he was hit. A driver saw the hit squirrel and wanted to get it off the road before it got squashed. But by the time he got turned around, the white furry body had already been retrieved by someone with the same idea. It’s either that or it has been stuffed.
Linda Kankey, who lives in the middle of Enon, has a series of photos of a family of white squirrels attacking and crawling into her bird feeders. The birds don’t have a chance.
I’ve been trying to take a photo of a white squirrel, but have not been having much luck. When I saw one sitting in a yard on Xenia Drive recently, I jumped out of my car with camera in hand. I kept tiptoeing around and around the tree with my camera in hand, but only got a peek or two of the beautiful white tail waving at me from behind the tree. Luckily no one called the Enon Police to report a crazy lady.
The white squirrels aren’t the only squirrels in Enon. They live within the local gray squirrel population. Some say the white squirrels are albinos, but others say they are just a white or gray variation of the gray squirrel.
Bockelman has noticed spotted squirrels near her on Xenia Drive.
“I don’t know if it’s from breeding between the gray squirrels and the white, but I’ve noticed over the past years that the gray squirrels have more and more white on them. Some just white bellies and others with white bellies and large white bibs. I saw one two years ago that had a half white, half gray tail,” said Bockelman. “I saw an anomaly a couple of years ago that had white paws and its face was marked with white that it looked malformed at first.”
In some cultures an albino or unusually white animal is given special significance. For example a white buffalo is said to bring peace.
Hopefully the white squirrels will continue to bring peace and smiles to the people of Enon for at least another 100 years.