It might look like a big white rat in the photos, but as Richmond Hill resident Paula Gianasi points out, the creature’s fur is “too scruffy” for a giant rodent.
Gianasi spotted the curious-looking creature wandering around her backyard a little more than a week ago. It moved around at a leisurely pace, so it wasn’t hard for her to get photos. Identifying it, on the other hand, wasn’t so simple.
“I have never seen anything like this in the 37 years I’ve been here,” she told CBC News. “Very unusual.”
At first she thought it might be someone’s exotic pet, but after a quick Google search, she landed on possum. Still, its bushy tail didn’t fit the bill.
The photos were eventually shown to professor Suzanne MacDonald, an animal behaviour specialist at York University, who’s certain that it’s an albino raccoon.
Nathalie Karvonen, the executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, agreed with her assessment.
“It’s out there,” she said. Apparently, the centre has assisted with a variety of albino animals, including squirrels, bats, and even a crow.
But sightings like these are still extremely rare. According to MacDonald, the likelihood of an albino raccoon being born, let alone spotted, is about one in 10,000.
Brad Gates, the founder of AAA Gates’ Wildlife Control, told CBC that his company removes about 5,000 litters of raccoons from homes each year. In more than 30 years of business, he’s only seen five albinos. That’s likely because most don’t survive long.
“Usually they have problems with their vision, hearing or other body systems,” Karvonen said.
Now that Gianasi knows what the creature is, she feels lucky to have seen it and hopes it continues coming back—not a sentiment you often hear in regards to raccoons.