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I saw a snow white squirrel with bright red eyes leaping around in a rather agitated fashion

Dear Urban Decoder: The other day in Trinity Bellwoods Park, I saw a snow white squirrel with bright red eyes leaping around in a rather agitated fashion. Am I seeing things? If not, was there something wrong with it?—Meredith Abbott-Richards, Little Portugal

Consider yourself blessed. What you saw was one of Queen West’s elusive and much admired albino squirrels. First spotted circa 1985, the fair beasts initially lived in a tree on the grounds of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre, before bravely migrating across the street to Trinity Bellwoods. Over the years, they’ve attracted a following, with disciples believing the rodents portend good fortune. For a while, the squirrels’ population swelled, until by the mid-’90s there were some 25 to 30 in the area. Alas, in recent years the albinos have been felled by genetic problems related to their blanched condition—which may explain why the specimen you saw seemed indisposed. Congenitally poor eyesight, in particular, is a bane to a species whose primary talent is the acrobatic leap. Today, appearances are rare; the ruby-eyed may soon live on only in legends—or nightmares.

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