Black Squirrel

More Animals on Deer Trail / More Information under Gray Squirrels
Black Squirrel
Sciurus carolinensis

melanistic variety of the
Eastern Gray Squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
    Order: Rodentia
    Suborder: Sciuromorpha
    Family: Sciuridae

We don't know who dug the hole.
As a melanistic variety of the Eastern Gray Squirrel, black squirrels can exist wherever grey squirrels live. Rather like having dark or blond hair. This subgroup of the Eastern Grey has stacks of melanin and these melanistic traits are the opposite of albinism which occurs when flora or fauna have a lack of the compound. Out of the squirrel population of the United States and Canada perhaps only one in ten thousand is black. Some black squirrels aren’t pure black, but have unpredictable patches of gray or white. Some have even been reported as having a black front half and gray hindquarters or other strange combinations.
The Black squirrel is native to the eastern and midwestern United States, and to the southerly portions of the eastern provinces of Canada. Grey mating pairs may produce black offspring, and in areas with high concentrations of black squirrels, mixed litters are common. The black subgroup is particularly abundant in the northern part of the Eastern Grey Squirrel's range. This is likely due to the significantly increased cold tolerance of black individuals which lose less heat than greys. Black individuals also enjoy visibility advantages in denser northern forests.

But this is what happens when Deerfeeder puts feed in a hole.

Someplace on the site we have a deer with it's muzzel in the hole.
Dr. Bill Hamilton, a biologist with Penn State New Kensington, “early northern forests were very shaded, very dense and dark. It’s said that they were so dense that a squirrel could go from one end of the state to the other without ever touching the ground. The undisturbed North American population of gray squirrels was, according to historical records from the 1600’s and early 1700’s, predominately made up of black-phase gray squirrels due to the effectiveness of the black coloration as an aid in hiding from avian predators such as hawks or owls”.
As Europeans settled the New World, forests were cleared for farmland and squirrels were commonly hunted. As the continuous forests of Pennsylvania and on westward were broken up and the human hunting and bounty pressures on squirrels were increased, the black form of the gray squirrel, even though it is the genetically dominant variant, became less and less abundant. The black squirrel was very clearly outlined against the light colored sky when hunted from the forest floor. This human hunting pressure apparently favored the mixed, “gray” coloration that even today predominates in most North American populations”.

So it would be interesting to know what squirrel this would be?
Squirrels were not only a food source for early settlers, they were perceived as a serious threat to crops. Nearly all states in the northeast had bounties on squirrels. “in 1749 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania put a 3-cent per skin bounty on gray squirrels to try to reduce the population. Over 640,000 pelts were turned in. In 1749, the outlay by Pennsylvania was huge, nearly bankrupting the state. In 1807 Ohio tried to reduce their squirrel population but also keep their state budget in tact by requiring each taxpayer to turn in squirrel pelts with their taxes in proportion to their tax bill. Each taxpayer had to turn in between 10 and 100 squirrel skins”.
Times have changed and black squirrels are now revered with larger populations in Princeton, N.J., Galesburg, IL, New Hartford, CT, Detroit and Lansing, MI. In Marysville, Kansas city officials passed legislation protecting the black squirrel and making it the Official Town Mascot. “It has the freedom to trespass on all city property, immunity from traffic regulations and the first pick of all black walnuts growing within the city”. Beware when driving through “Black Squirrel City” as the little nut-cruncher has the right-of-way on all streets, alleys and railroad crossings. Harm one and you’ll be assessed a $25.00 fine. It could be worse. In Olney, IL where there is an isolated pocket of several hundred white albino squirrels, there is up to a $750.00 fine to any motorist who hits one………..ouch!

Of the squirrels I have raised the black are the most docile. Black Squirrels do not usually have white bellies. Also I have noticed that when walking in the woods if the squirrels aren’t yelling at you they are probably plopped down in their easy/chair-tree, I have seen them do this often, they just kind of flop down on a branch, and if you take your eyes away, it takes awhile to find them again. I read a lot of non-sense about Black Squirrels on the net, and found that people either seem to like or dislike them. Non-the less with its shiny, bottomlessly dark coat, a black squirrel stands out vividly at a distance, and is instantly memorable.

More Animals on Deer Trail / More Information under Gray Squirrels