Black Squirrels

a black squirrel

An Exotic Evolution, from the WaPo

Because the history of Washington has been written by humans, nobody has paid much attention to the fact that 18 Canadian squirrels were released at the National Zoo during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

Legend had it at my alma mater, UMass Amherst, that black squirrels were invented there, or rather bred there. The legend went that the black squirrel was an experiment in selective breeding at Mass Aggie (the land-grant university precursor to UMass), that somehow escaped. Well, so much for that legend.

The WaPo article says:

To the east, the squirrels crossed the city a few decades ago to colonize the National Arboretum and Capitol Hill. To the south, they made it across the Potomac River into Arlington, where naturalists say they’ve seen black squirrels since at least the 1980s.

Well, let me tell you, they’ve spread a heck of a lot farther than that. There were a lot of black squirrels in Amherst, and that was more than 10 years ago now. Heavens knows how far they might have spread since. Though I don’t recall having seen any around the Triangle.

And then this article takes a turn towards the slapstick:

Flyger… used to smear a tree behind his Silver Spring home with a mixture of peanut butter and Valium and then tattoo the squirrels that he found passed out below.

And then the squirrels wake up in Shanghai, find themselves pressed into service aboard a galley, and made to row.

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10 Responses to Black Squirrels

  1. Blythe says:

    You wouldn’t believe this…. I know about the Flyger person. Allison did an in depth science fair project on squirrels when we were living in Syracuse. http://vrd.askvrd.org/index.asp?id=4083
    There are some bits of info about the coloration, but in short, a mother can have a litter with gray and black in the same litter.

  2. Sally says:

    I was amazed to see black squirrels on the lawn of the Capitol when I lived in D.C. in the 1980s. Never gave much thought to where they came from. Thanks!

  3. Ima Goodpersen says:

    Black Squirrels are kool

  4. i b scared of them says:

    I first saw black squirrels up in oswego, upstate ny in 03. I had to stop they were all over and i first thought damn they must have mink up here. I have since seen them in bluffton sc 12/05 near hilton head is. and locally in north jersey in hasbrook hieghts and today in garfield. they are taking over !!! but they are cool looking so hey its ok

  5. Tracy says:

    The first time I saw them was in Central Park. I had to do a double take, being from Alabama I’d never known they existed. I think they are amazing, & I’d love to see a few migrate my way! Thanks for the page… I’ve added it to Stumble!

  6. FirstTimer says:

    I saw a black squirrel for the first time today when I was driving home from work. It was in Concord, MA. Beautiful, I though it was a black kitty but the tail was too poofy.

  7. Gloria says:

    I saw my first black squirrel about a month ago at Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden Alabama. It was on of the neatest things I ever seen

  8. Saboe says:

    We have three beautiful black squirrels that play in our backyard in Gadsden, AL. I love to drink coffee and watch them. After reading about the black squirrels, I’m totally amazed that they too have found their way to the South. According to Native Americans lore, the forewarning black squirrel is synonymous with harsher and colder than normal winters, which we experienced this past winter.

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