A local couple got more than they’d bargained for on a recent shopping trip when they spotted an extremely rare albino squirrel scurrying up a tree in Merchiston.
Dad-of-two Richard Waugh and his wife Lesley, both 49, were waiting to catch a bus to the January sales when they saw the small white squirrel. Albino squirrels are so rare that the odds of one being born are said to be one in 100,000.
Richard, a software designer from Gorgie, immediately took out his camera to capture a moment of “pure luck”.
He said: “I was heading into town with my wife last week and I just looked up and saw the wee squirrel sitting in the tree.
“I got the camera out and took a picture of it, it was just pure luck.
“At that time there was just one white squirrel and I also noticed a grey one running about but I didn’t photograph it, I was just fascinated with the white one.
“Apparently they are rare and my wife was impressed with the picture - I was just shocked.”
Remarkably, it’s not the first time that Richard has come across a seldom-spotted white squirrel.
In 2017, he was again in the right place at the right time, snapping photos of a pair of white squirrels together.
“Two years ago I spotted two of them when I was just walking to the supermarket,” he explained. “They are really cool.”
Albinism is caused by a gene mutation that affects pigmentation. White squirrels are either albino or born with leucism - a condition which turns animals’ skin or hair white, but doesn’t change their eye colour.
Wildlife experts say that white squirrels are more vulnerable to predators, as they don’t have the natural camouflage of their grey and red counterparts.
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