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One purple squirrel is a strange curiosity, but in recent years they have been popping up all over the place including both British and American examples! No definitive explanation has been offered for this curious coloring, but some suggestions are summarized at the bottom of this hub.
This somewhat indistinct photograph (see right) shows a purple squirrel spotted by a resident of a town in Minnesota.
A purple squirrel turned up on the grounds of a school in Hampshire, United Kingdom. He was photographed several times and caused a great deal of speculation as to the cause of his unusual coloration.
Ebay Purple Squirrel (2012)
A taxidermy specimen of a purple-tinted squirrel was offered on Ebay. Its origin and the cause of the coloration are unknown. This one is most likely a man-made gaff.
Ryan Cheech Morrissey posted this more subtly colored squirrel on Facebook.
Why are the purple?
Explanations offered for purple squirrels include:
- Squirrels getting into ink or toner sand spreading it by grooming.
- Excess intake of bromide, such as from contaminated water. One possible source might be waste-water from hydraulic fracturing.
- Deliberate coloring by a researcher to track animals (seems unlikely).
As yet there is not definite answer as to what is producing these purple squirrels--and no new examples have been spotted since 2012. So what caused a spate of sighting for just a few years remains unclear.
Sarina Brewer created a taxidermy purple squirrel for an art show with the theme of Urban Legends.
Apparently because purple squirrels are rare it is used by recruiters as a name for the perfect candidate for a job. It is also the name of a drink and a bakery.