A rehabbed white squirrel named Snowflake was released in the backyard of her benefactor, Jennifer Burgin.  The Burginís live in a remote area approximately two miles from any other known white squirrels.  Snowflake foraged regularly from feeders on their porch and allowed Jennifer to touch her abdomen, and thereby monitor pregnancies and nursing.  Snowflake even brought her pups with her to feed on the porch so that the color makeup of each litter could usually be determined with certainty.  She has not been seen since weaning her last litter and is presumed to be have died.  To the best of our knowledge, Table 1 summarizes her reproductive history.
 

TABLE 1.  SUMMARY OF SNOWFLAKE'S LITTERS

LITTER

SEASON

FATHER

PUPS

1

SPRING 1997

 

LOST

2

FALL 1998

?

WEANED BUT NOT SEEN

3

SPRING 1999

GRAY WILD

2 GRAY

4

FALL 1999

 

LOST

5

SPRING 2000

?

1 GRAY, 1 WHITE

6

FALL 2000

GRAY (SON?)

2 GRAY, 3 WHITE

7

SPRING 2001

?

1 GRAY, 1 WHITE

8

FALL 2001

?

4 GRAY


 

The father(s), however, could usually only be guessed at.  With only gray males available to sire her young, Snowflake's first viable litter consisted of two gray pups.  After losing several additional litters (and part of her tail whose hairs grew back with pigmentation), she has since had mixed litters consisting of 1 white and 1 gray, and 3 white and 2 gray.  Although the alleged father of these later litters was observed to be phenotypically gray, it may have been a son from the first litter.  With only this type of antidotal evidence to go on, the available data are consistent with just able any proposed pattern of inheritance, i.e.,   homozygous for a recessive predisposition or heterozygous for a dominant predisposition.

 

Click here for other notable observations by Jennifer Burgin.