Maybe you’ve seen him around. Or maybe it’s a her. It could even be a “them,” if there’s more than one scampering around out there on Boston Common and in the Public Garden — but that’s unlikely, because it’s a rare phenomenon.
We’re talking about the white squirrel that people often spot roaming the parks, living its life, eating nuts or the occasional scraps of human food that visitors shouldn’t be feeding to it in the first place.
The squirrel — or squirrels; that’s still unclear, but one in particular is not camera shy — has become something of a legend in these parts — like the Duck Boats that parade through the city when a championship is won, or Tom Brady’s every waking moment on earth.
Now, the Friends of the Public Garden, the group that works with the city’s Boston Parks department to maintain the Boston Common, Commonwealth Mall, and the Public Garden, is asking for fans of the furry resident to give it an official name.
“Do any of you have a nickname for this pale, furry Friend?,” the Friends of the Public Garden asked on Facebook on Wednesday. “What do you think is a good name for this celebrity squirrel?”
Susan Abell, a spokeswoman for the group, said they decided to ask the public to weigh in after receiving a lot of recent reports about the squirrel, who seems to almost pose for photos like some sort of hot-shot.
The “famous resident white squirrel” has been frequenting an area near the George Washington sculpture in the Public Garden lately, she said.
With so many names getting thrown around for it, however, the group decided it’s high-time to coalesce.
“We figured we’d like to land on one maybe, and start referring to him as that,” Abell said. “He’s a celebrity, and I think he knows it.”
Abell’s not kidding.
If you take a quick scan through social media, the squirrel’s fandom is obvious. When a person is fortunate enough to run into the pearl-colored critter, they celebrate the occasion with pictures, and describe the experience as “blessed” or “fabled” or “amazing.”
It’s important to note the distinction between an albino squirrel and a white squirrel. The one seen in the Public Garden is a white squirrel — or leucistic squirrel — and doesn’t have pink eyes like its counterpart. The squirrel gets its coloration because of a genetic abnormality, which is inherited.
Tom French, assistant director of the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, explained the difference in a video in 2015, after there were white squirrel sightings near Massachusetts General Hospital. He compared seeing the squirrels to “winning the lottery.”
After the Friends of the Public Garden inquired about a possible title for the squirrel, people immediately came out of the woodwork with suggestions, or names they use themselves.
“I saw a group or tour of about 40 plus people following him/her this morning,” one person wrote. “Possible name — Casper?”
Another said, “we call her Lady Gaga,” while a third person suggested “Whitey” — though naming a cute creature after an infamous criminal is probably frowned upon.
As reports have rolled in, park officials said they’ve heard people refer to the squirrel by several other names, like Steve, Julian Edelman, and Blanche.
Abell likes “Steve” (so does the author of this ridiculous story), because it’s random, and makes her laugh. But she wouldn’t call it her favorite, and wants to see what else people can come up with.
If a general consensus can be reached, the group will announce it online in the coming days.
“If not, we will leave everyone to call it what they want,” Abell said.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.