'Same odds as being struck by lightning': Rare albino raccoon spotted in Windsor
WINDSOR, ONT. -- A very rare creature has taken up residence in a south Windsor neighbourhood, which one expert has identified as an albino raccoon.
The fluffy white critter lacks the typical black and grey colouring and trademark bandit strip across the eyes. It’s a genetic mutation caused by an absence of melanin, which normally provides colour to the skin, fur and eyes, according to City of Windsor naturalist Karen Cedar. She confirmed the rare raccoon shares all of those traits.
“We don’t see them very often, so getting one in your backyard, such as this raccoon, that’s pretty exciting,” Cedar said.
Just how rare is it to come across a raccoon like this? According to Skedaddle Wildlife, a raccoon has a one in 10,000 chance of being born with albinism. Your chances of seeing one is even lower — one in 750,000 — “the same odds of being struck by lightning,” the humane wildlife control service says.
Windsor-Essex Humane Society executive director Melanie Coulter recommends people not try to interact with wildlife, regardless of their rarity as they are unpredictable and could be carriers of disease such as distemper.
Neighbouring residents eager to snap a photo of the elusive animal were excited to catch a glimpse.
“Never seen an albino raccoon,” said Andromeda Dean, who has lived in the area backing onto Oakwood Conservation Area for 28 years. “It’s like I still can’t believe it.”
Her daughter, Sylvia, was equally amazed by the sighting.
“Just seeing it casually live its life in our backyard, something I’m so familiar with, is just awesome,” she said. “When you realize how extremely rare it is to see one of these things, it really makes you grateful and appreciate it and admire it more.”
Unfortunately, the life expectancy of this rare delight isn’t as promising as their fully-coloured counterparts. Their lack of skin pigmentation makes it difficult for albino raccoons to make use of the sun’s rays to warm up their bodies.
“It’s also extremely conspicuous, so in terms of hiding from predators, protecting themselves with camouflage, those are not options that white animals have. They are very exposed and easily seen by predators, so it’s a much riskier life for them,” said Cedar. “I’d enjoy it while it lasts, because it might not last very long.”
Cedar said Windsor-Essex boasts a wide variety of species and recommends people document these unique sightings.
“Look out in your backyard because you never know what might be hanging out there,” Cedar said.