Clark the Chipmunk

A picture of Clark the Chipmunk enjoying some seeds left out for him by the library staff.

Clark is an unusual chipmunk that lives in the woods near Clark Memorial Library. While most chipmunks are brown with black and tan stripes, Clark is pure white!

There are two main reasons an animal that normally has colors can be born white. They can be albino, which means that they don’t have any melanin, the pigment in skin and hair that gives it its color. Or they can be leucistic, which means they have less of every kind of pigment, but not necessarily throughout their entire body.

The easiest way to tell if an animal is albino or leucistic is to look at their eyes! Albino eyes are colorless, but the tiny blood vessels inside them make them look pink or red. Leucistic animals usually have normally colored eyes, and sometimes patches of light color in certain places on their bodies. You can drag the slider on the image below to compare an albino squirrel to a leucistic one and see the differences for yourself:

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Both albinism and leucism can make life hard for animals that rely on being able to hide to survive (like chipmunks), but Clark has been seen around the library for at least three years. He and the other chipmunks, squirrels, and birds that live here are fed a few times a week by the staff, so they don’t have to worry so much about where to find their next meal. And like all chipmunks, Clark is a fast runner and excellent climber.

Keep an eye out when you next visit the library, and you may catch a glimpse of him!