Thanks for your photo!
Your question really created some discussions among the naturalists.
It looks like the animal in your photo is a Red Squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, with an unusual color variation.
Despite their name, Red Squirrels can have an astounding variety of colors in their fur: red, white, brown, and even gray.
Take a look at this snapshot of an unusually colored Red Squirrel spotted in Hambden Township by Naturalist Andy Avram:
Unusually-colored squirrel in Hambden
The color variations arise as perfectly natural genetic variations, and are sometimes passed on within particular squirrel families. As a result, different color variations can become more common in a particular location.
Every so often, a litter of squirrels is born with a “piebald” or varied color variation, and the squirrels become local celebrities. Last year, a piebald Easterm Gray Squirrel named “Pinto Bean” charmed the University Of Illinois campus.
Naturalists Dottie Drockton and Nora Sindelar point out that your squirrel seems to also show some fur loss, particularly in its tail. There are a huge variety of fungal infections, pests and other diseases that can cause fur loss, which is well explained in this summary from Purdue University.
If you want to get involved in a science project centered on squirrel coloration, check out Squirrel Mapper! You can contribute photos of color variations in Eastern Gray Squirrels via iNaturalist, or you can classify other people’s photos online.
It will be interesting to see whether or not there’s a larger population of these unusually colored squirrels in Northeast Ohio. Keep an eye out, and let us know if you spot any!
– Geauga Park District’s Naturalist Team (written up by Naturalist Chris Mentrek)