Sad news from the Twitterverse yesterday: UT’s mythical albino squirrel has died. Or has he?
Before we go any further, it’s important to note that the fair-haired good-luck charm commonly referred to as “the albino squirrel” is actually not albino (no red eyes).
He is, in fact, one of a few fox squirrels, Sciurus niger, on the campus, also known as white squirrels. I know because he served as the cover boy of our latest issue.
While there may be several blonde squirrels on campus, they aren’t really albinos, says UT biologist David Hillis. “It’s a color variant, not a true albino.” Albinism is a genetic anomaly in which an animal has a total or partial lack of pigment. It’s much more rare—occurring in one in 100,00 squirrels.
Yet yesterday, one of these little guys got squashed, according to @FakeUTexas.
— UT News (@FakeUTexas) July 10, 2013
Word spread fast this morning after the dear little guy got run over on what appears to be Whitis Avenue, across from Kinsolving Dormitory*. The Office of the Dean of Students, worried that students might need some counseling, took to Facebook with some words of consolation and to offer students advice on how to cope with losing a loved one.
“There are moments in life where we all experience unexpected loss that may cause us to pause and evaluate our perspective on life,” a DoS staffer wrote. “We know many of you are mourning the recent loss of an Albino Squirrel on campus. We know you may fear the impact of this on your academics. Know that there is support and resources on campus for you during this time or after the loss of any loved one.”
There are two Twitter accounts that purport to be that of the albino squirrel. One hasn’t tweeted in months. But the other account has been active since the alleged killing, and if it is to be believed the guy is alive and well.
— Albino Squirrel (@AlbinoSquirrel5) July 10, 2013
R.I.P., little squirrel, if you are really dead. We’ll miss you.
*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the location was on 21st Street between Jester and Gregory Gym.
Cover illustration by Jason Holley.