The legend goes that Brevard’s white squirrels originated from a carnival animal truck. According to Brevard resident Mrs. W.E. Mull, a pair of white squirrels was given to her brother-in-law, H.H. Mull, by Mr. Black of Madison, Florida, in 1949. A carnival truck had overturned near Black’s home, and the squirrels were caught by Mr. Black when he observed them playing in his pecan grove.
Mull gave the critters to his niece, Barbara, who unsuccessfully tried to breed them. In 1951 she married and left home. Eventually, one of the white squirrels escaped and Mr. Mull soon let the other one go. Before long, the squirrels began breeding in the wild and appeared in several areas of town.
The white squirrels became so prized that the Brevard City Council voted in 1986 to approve an ordinance declaring and establishing a sanctuary for squirrels, especially the white ones, stating that it “shall be unlawful for any person to hunt, kill, trap, or otherwise take any protected squirrels within the city by this section.”
Biologists recognize no known species of all-white squirrels in the world. The Brevard white squirrels, with dark eyes and sometimes gray-streaked fur, are not albinos but a white variant of the eastern gray squirrel. They make up almost a third of Brevard's squirrel population.
In addition to Brevard, white squirrels have been spotted in Olney, IL; Versailles, IL; Hodgenville, KY; Marionville, MO; Trenton, NJ; Bloomfield, NY; Greenwood, SC; and Kenton, TN. But only Brevard holds an annual festival in their honor!
Excerpts from The Transylvania Times.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
Folks planning a trip to Brevard often ask, "Where do I find the white squirrels?" Keep in mind that these are wild animals and, like all animals, Brevard's white squirrels have regular patterns of behavior, but their whereabouts cannot be guaranteed.
There are several "hot spots" around town: the campus of Brevard College, Silvermont, and Franklin Park. Going for a drive or walk through the quieter residential areas of town is a good bet as well.
Despite being more easily seen by predators, the white variant has spread and can also frequently be seen in surrounding communities such as Cedar Mountain, Etowah, and Mills River.
For more information about our most famous residents visit the White Squirrel Institute.
Renowned white squirrel Pisgah Pete was famous for predicting Super Bowl winners. Pisgah Pete also had a knack for forecasting if Brevard was in for an early spring or a long winter. He retired in 2022 and was replaced by his niece, the capable Pisgah Penny, who inherited the family's unique prognostication skills. Predictions are made on White Squirrel Day, which occurs each year on February 2nd, and is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "Groundhog Day."