Squeals From The Attic
What was that sound? The workers at the Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary from New Jersey look at each other and pause. The sound of claws scratching and petite squeals fill the room. They look above. It’s coming from the attic. Slowly but surely, they creep up the ladder to find out what’s up there.
Little did they know what was waiting for them.
Providing Care To Injured Wildlife
The team from Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary, in New Jersey, has always been fascinated with wildlife. They’re committed and dedicated to helping find endangered, orphaned and injured wildlife, caring for them and making sure they’re in perfect shape to go back into the wild.
But they never thought they would come across an animal that they could never release. Until now.
An Unexpected Discovery
Since opening in 2008 in New Jersey, the sanctuary has rescued and released thousands of injured wildlife. Providing care for a range of mammals including fawns, raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks, and other small mammals.
But the sanctuary would soon come across an animal that would leave them with thousands of questions. Questions they needed answering.
The Call That Would Change Everything
It was a cold winter day when Linda DeLorenzo got the call. Someone had requested that Linda and the rest of her team come visit an abandoned attic which seemed to house a litter of animals.
Excited to hopefully provide care to these animals, Linda and her team set off… Not knowing what was waiting for them.
Climbing Into The Attic
Stepping up to the attic, Linda feels nervous. She has a lump her throat. She never felt this way before. Why was today any different? Slowly creeping up the ladder to the attic, suddenly Linda hears scratches. Followed by a squeal. This was it. This was the moment she was waiting for.
She opens the lid to the attic before climbing up.
Never Saw Anything Like This Before
“Look at them” whispers a member of staff to Linda. Scattered across the attic was a litter of squirrels, nestled in blankets and pillows. Suddenly, Linda notices something strange. She taps her fellow team never and the two look at each other.
They had never seen anything like this before.
What Was It?
Although many squirrels look “white-ish” when born, with some often hairless and pink, there was one squirrel that Linda knew was different. She knew he was special. The little squirrel had a patch of white fur growing on its head.
Linda knew she had to take these squirrels back to the center to find out some answers.
Back To The Center
Taking the litter of squirrels back to the center, the team was excited at the prospect of helping the squirrels and caring for them. They even named every single one of them. There was Hazel, Macadamia, Montana, Jimmy, Dotty, and Filbert. The team were confident they were going to be able to care for them
But they never expected to find what they found.
Over the next few weeks, the squirrels began to grow, coming into their own personalities. Some were feisty, some were more reserved. But then one day, the team noticed something strange on one of the squirrels.
Speechless, Linda taps her team member on the shoulder. “Look.” She says before pointing at one of the squirrels.
They Knew He Was Special
At just 2 weeks old, Filbert, the squirrel that Linda knew was different the moment she saw him, had started sprouting even more white fine fur instead of gray. The team was interested to see if he was perhaps albino or leucistic, which is a partial loss of pigment. They knew Filbert was special.
And oh, how they were right.
All They Could Do Was Wait
Unlike his brothers and sisters, whose fur had started to turn brown-gray, Filbert’s white fur started to thicken, increasing the curiosity of the team. Thousands of questions filled the room as the team gathered around Filbert, standing in silence and fascinated with the newest addition to their center.
They could nothing but wait. So they did.
The Moment They Were Waiting For
If Filbert had leucism, he would have normal dark eyes, but if he was albino, he would have red eyes. All that Filbert had to do was open his eyes and the question would be solved. And so, at 4 weeks old, Filbert finally opened his petite eyes.
And the sanctuary staff got their answer.
The Truth Is Revealed
Opening his eyes, the staff immediately identified Filbert as albino. His eyes were a light red with hues of peach and orange. Excited at the answer they had all been waiting for, the team was able to relax knowing that Filbert had been correctly identified.
But they knew he needed extra care and attention.
Doing What They Do Best
Filbert may look different to his brothers and sisters but he definitely doesn’t act differently. While living at the center, the squirrel siblings did what squirrels enjoying doing most: hiding nuts and finding them and building nests and climbing.
But unfortunately, their time together would soon come to an end.
The End Is Unfortunately Near
When the group of squirrels reached 12 weeks, the team at Antler Ridge knew they were ready to be released back into the wild; back where they can roam free with other mammals, armed with their newly accustomed curiosity and skill set.
But unfortunately for Filbert, this was a different story, and is something the team knew would be a heartbreaking decision.
A Heartbreaking Decision
The team had decided that it would be in Filbert’s best interests if he was to remain at the sanctuary. It was a hard decision knowing Filbert would never get to do the things that squirrels get to do and be amongst his brothers and sisters out in the wild.
But this was for the best.
An Easy Target
As an albino, Filbert’s thick, white fur would make him easy prey to eagles, hawks, and owls that hunt and feed on squirrels from the sky, and foxes, coyotes and feral dogs and cats that hunt them from the ground. Filbert’s poor eyesight is another contributing factor to his reason for staying at the center.
But Filbert thankfully would not be left alone.
A Family Affair
Two of Filbert’s sisters Hazel and Macadamia ending up stopping with Filbert, with the three of living together in a large enclosure. The three musketeers, or should we say squirrels, love jumping from branch to branch, wrestling with each other and stealing each other’s food.
But little did Filbert himself know, just how rare and extraordinary he really is.
1 Out Of 100,000
It turns out that according to David Hills a biologist from the University Of Texas, albino squirrels occur in 1 out of every 100,000 gray squirrels. In Olney, people can face getting fined if they injure, kill or even remove a white squirrel from the town.
What a special little mammal Filbert is then!
Something Special Waiting To Be Found
There we have it. Thanks to the incredible team at Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary and their amazing discovery of Gilbert, you never know when you might come across something special.
Something incredible. Something 1 in a 100,00.