A man captures photographs of one of the country’s 50 rare albino squirrels

A father captured a series of extraordinary photographs of a rare albino squirrel outside his home. Richard Waugh, 51, was thrilled when he saw the white squirrel scampering outside his Edinburgh flat. The rare squirrel named Lexy has become a regular visitor to the garden.

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Richard is a software developer. He said that he sees the ultra rare creature, which he named Lexy. A couple of times a week and sometimes they hand out nuts. The condition affects around one in a million gray squirrels, with around 50 of the creatures thought to live in the UK. Their unique white color is caused by the absence of melanin, which affects their skin and hair, causing their eyes to turn red or pink.

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The chances of a squirrel being born white are believed to be one in 100,000. Father-of-two Richard took photos of the squirrel rummaging through leaves on Saturday and said he often poses for photos. Richard said: “I was going shopping and she was running around, luckily I had my camera with me.” He seemed to be in good spirits and posed for some photos.

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—I estimate that she has been here for about four years, I have been lucky and I have seen her a lot. ‘I normally see her a couple of times a week, although she seems to disappear for a couple of weeks at a time, it’s always good to see her when she returns. “I don’t really feed her, but on rare occasions I see her from the apartment window and take some nuts to scatter among the grass and trees.

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‘She’s quite cheeky, sometimes she just runs off with a couple of cheeky glances from the trees, other times it’s like she’s sitting around posing for photos. “She seems to get along quite well with other wild animals. “She’s pretty quick and she does her best when she’s being harassed.” Albino squirrels are believed to have poor eyesight and hearing, making life in the wild very difficult for them.

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Do you know why albino squirrels are so rare? One in every 100,000 creatures has white fur due to a lack of melanin. Albinism, a genetic condition that reduces the amount of melanin a creature has, can dramatically reduce an animal’s chances of survival in the wild for several reasons. The condition leaves animals with white skin or fur due to a lack of pigment. This is particularly problematic for creatures like squirrels, which need to blend in with tree trunks and leaves to avoid predators.

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Another problem that children with albinism face is poor eyesight. The characteristic pink or reddish eyes that albinos have have usually developed abnormally, so they often have difficulty with depth perception and focusing on objects. The increasing difficulty of survival, coupled with the fact that albinism occurs in only 1 in every 100,000 mammal births, means that albino squirrels are incredibly rare. However, it is important to make a distinction between albino squirrels and the much rarer white squirrel. White squirrels suffer from leucism, a mutated gene that turns their skin white but leaves their eyes black, meaning they do not suffer from any of the eye problems that albinos have. There are around five million gray squirrels in Britain, but experts believe there are fewer than one in a million suffering from leucism.

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