White squirrels in De Waal Park
During 2009 a white squirrel was seen in the Company Gardens and in time this albino squirrel was named Frosti, becoming quite a celebrity with the tourists. Despite his colour Frosti is actually an Eastern Grey Squirrel, known in South African as a Tree Squirrel as opposed to the local Ground Squirrel.
During the 19th Century this type of squirrel was introduced to the Cape from Britain (where this species replaced the red squirrel) by Cecil John Rhodes. The Rhodes statue in the Company Gardens is not respected by the pigeons, presumably as they have to compete with the squirrels for food and shelter.
Albinism is caused by a group of inherited genes. Rare squirrels can also be found in pure black which is caused by Melanism - the opposite of Albinism. We can tell that our squirrels in the park are true albinos as their eyes are pink. But what makes the white squirrels in the park special, is that we have about three of them, which may be considered amongst the highest percentages on the planet, as the condition is thought to affect just one in 100 000 animals. Clearly, Frosti has been a very busy little squirrel!