By Trevor McDonald

Hannibal Courier-Post reporter

Just outside the window, a furry surprise appeared for a Hannibal boy who loves to watch wildlife with his caretaker.

Patty Lawrence said she takes care of a boy who loves to watch the various creatures who fly and scurry through his yard. Recently, Lawrence snapped photos of an animal neither of them had seen before — a squirrel with a snow-white coat of fur. Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Management Biologist Ryan Jones said the squirrel appeared to be an albino, based on its pinkish eyes. Throughout nature, albino animals are born with a congenital disorder where an animal lacks pigments in the hair and skin.

But albinos rarely make it to adulthood in the wild, because their brilliant color makes them more visible to predators. Jones said it’s also more rare to find albinos in smaller animals like squirrels, and that the squirrel is likely to stay in close by.

For a boy who enjoys watching the birds, rabbits and squirrels in his yard, the special visitor spurred great delight.

“It was amazing,” Lawrence said.

And the little critter has a family nearby.

“You know what, he has little brothers and sisters,” Lawrence said. “They are gray with little white tails.”

Jones said chances are good that the little visitor might return.

“As long as there’s food around, the squirrel’s not going to go too far,” he said.

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