An albino porcupine seen at the Seashore Museum in Kennebunkport has been named Marshmallow. SUBMITTED PHOTO/Courtesy of Karen Dooks

KENNEBUNKPORT — An albino porcupine that stumbled onto the grounds of the Seashore Trolley Museum last month and stole hearts around the globe now has a name.

The little white critter has been dubbed Marshmallow, said Katie Orlando, executive director of the mass transit vehicle museum located at 195 Log Cabin Road in Kennebunkport.

The name won by a slim margin over Snowball in a vote of eight names chosen through a social media campaign.

Marshmallow, who is believed to be male, was first spotted on July 16. Staff thought at first that the animal was a skunk because it was so fluffy, but after the museum got a flurry of comments on a social media post, it was determined that it was a young porcupine that had not yet developed quills.

Porcupines are fairly common in Maine, but albino porcupines, which appear white because of a lack of melanin, are rare.

The degree of albinism varies among animals groups, but it is estimated that in mammals, pure albinism occurs in one in 100,000 births, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Marshmallow became somewhat of an internet sensation and his story was picked up by news sources around the world. The museum has received social media messages, emails and letters from people all over the United States and from foreign countries including India and Italy.

“The story went global,” said Orlando. She said though the contest is over, the museum is still receiving correspondence, like the index card it received in the mail with child-like writing suggesting the porcupine’s name be Ivy if it’s a girl or Igor if it’s a boy.

Since Marshmallow was first spotted, he’s been seen nearly every day.

“I think Marshmallow is part of us,” said Orlando. “It’s fascinating to watch him. He’s adorable.”

The museum had an increase of visitors this year prior to Marshmallow’s appearance, but his existence has made people more aware of the museum.

“He’s definitely been a good ambassador,” said Orlando.

Because of his notoriety, visitors ask the museum crew if Marshmallow has been spotted that day and where he is, she said. Several people have taken selfies with him – at a safe distance.

Museum officials ask visitors to stay at least 50 feet away from the porcupine – so he can “live his best life,” said Orlando – and not give him food.

Porcupines are herbivores, and Marshmallow has plenty to eat, say museum officials. Any food left by humans could attract predators.

Albino animals are more vulnerable to prey, as their white coloring make them easily seen by predators, said Assistant Regional Wildlife Biologist Cory Stearns.

Typical predators of porcupines include fisher cats, bobcats, coyotes and Great Horn Owls, he said.

Marshmallow has found a home in a thick area of trees in a field on the museum’s campus.

“He’s found a smart place to hide,” said Orlando.

A larger, brownish-gray porcupine has also been sited on the museum property recently. It’s believed that it may be a parent of Marshmallow, as it has been seen going to the same spot in the trees, and Orlando said museum staff and volunteers are happy that Marshmallow has company.

The second porcupine has not been named, but Facebook users have suggested continuing the marshmallow theme with possibilities such as “Graham” and “Toasted Marshmallow.”

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected].

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