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Black Squirrels

Updated on November 16, 2016

The Black Squirrels of Westfield, MA

The black squirrel is a melanistic subgroup of the eastern grey squirrel. As a melanistic variety of the Grey Squirrel, individual black squirrels can exist wherever Gray Squirrels live. The black subgroup is particularly abundant in the northern part of the Eastern Grey's range. This may be due to the significantly increased cold tolerance of black individuals. Large natural populations of black squirrels can be found throughout Ontario, and in several parts of Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. Populations of grey squirrels in which the black subgroup is dominant can be found in these four areas as well as in smaller enclaves in New Jersey, Illinois, and Connecticut.

Black Squirrels Video - Through my kitchen window :)

Westfield, MA Black Squirrel

art print by hlkljgk

Black Squirrel History & Facts

  • 10 London, Ontario Canada Black Squirrels were exported to Kent State University in 1961. Today they own the campus and the squirrels have been spotted in places such as: Warren, Cleveland, Barberton, Akron, and Canton.
  • Ontario Black squirrels have been exported to the United States 4 times - in 1902, 1906 and twice in 1961.
  • Black squirrels represent 1 out of 10,000 squirrels in North America. By North American standards this makes them rare.
  • Most Americans have never seen a Black Squirrel.
  • Japanese tourists flock to Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto to photograph the Black Squirrels there.
  • Many children, seniors, and baby boomers are fans of Black Squirrels.
  • The Black Squirrels in Victoria Park London, Ontario Canada are live tourist attractions with no admission
  • The Black Squirrels that roam the grounds of the White House in Washington, D.C. are descendants of 18 Black Squirrels exported from Ontario in 1902 and 1906.

© 2005 The Washington Post

Black Squirrels in Westfield, Massachusetts

"A Westfield phenomenon since the late 1940s, the black squirrels now populate most areas of the city and have moved into surrounding communities. Because they are not indigenous to Western Massachusetts, the presence of the squirrels has led to a rather large collection of stories and tall tales as to how they got here, when, and perhaps most important, why? They were a gift to Frank Stanley Beveridge, the founder of The Stanley Park of Westfield, Inc. and Stanhome Inc., from former Stanhome Inc., sales manager's, Hubert L. Worell and Alvah (Al) Elzerman. In 1948, Worell and Elserman brought the squirrels from Michigan to Westfield, Massachusetts when they were to attend a conference here at Stanhome Inc., or known at that time as Stanley Home Products. The first arrivals were kept in cages and did not adapt well to their new environment; they failed to reproduce and eventually died. Undaunted, Worell and Elserman tried again, this time bringing six squirrels, allowing them to roam free in the confines of the park. The squirrels found their new surroundings and their freedom to their liking, and were soon an established tenant of Westfield. Now black squirrels are to be found all over the Pioneer Valley and are numerous especially in the park."

[via musingsofanoldman.blogspot.com]

Region's Black Squirrels Offer Genetics Lesson

By Stan Freeman of the Springfield Republican

While gray and red squirrels are distinct species, black squirrels are not, said John E. McDonald, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northeast division.

"A lot of people think of them as a separate species from the gray squirrel. But they are gray squirrels, only a different color phase," he said.

Photo by David Molnar/The Republican Homer G. Perkins, who was on the board of directors of Stanley Park in Westfield for more than 50 years, holds a photograph of the park's carillon.

Gray and black squirrels do mate, said Marion E. Larson, a wildlife biologist with the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The offspring can be either gray or black, and when two grays mate, the offspring can occasionally be black.

"And two black squirrels could produce black or gray colored squirrels," she said.

So why haven't black squirrels become as common as their gray cousins in this area? One reason is that the gene for black fur is recessive, meaning that it takes an uncommon pairing of parents to produce a coat of that color, Larson said.

As with all animals, including human beings, the features of the offspring are determined by the genes of the parents. A child gets genes from both its mother and father, and in some of those pairings of genes, one gene may be dominant, meaning it's the one that determines the feature, while another may be recessive, meaning that it gives way to the dominant gene. Only when two recessive genes are paired will the feature coded by that gene show up in the offspring. So it takes getting that recessive gene from both parents for the fur to be black. If either gene is the dominant gray gene, the fur will be gray.

Article excerpt via MassLive.com

feel free to leave links to related squirrel pages or photos!

Feelin' Squirrely?

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    • profile image

      ROSALIND JACKSON 2 years ago

      I SEEN A BLACK SQUIRREL TODAY....NEVER SEEN ONE BEFORE..I STARTED TO TAKE A PICTURE BUT I WAS TO SCARED. IT LOOKSBETTER THEN THE GRAY SQUIRRELS...IT HAD PRETTY BLACK SHINNY FUR..CHICAGO ILL SEPT 29TH 2014

    • profile image

      getupandgrow 3 years ago

      Love this page, and now know a lot more about black squirrels than I did before...black squirrels are quite new in the UK. Many thanks!

    • profile image

      SParadis 3 years ago

      I saw a black squirrel today just outside Vacaville California where Pleasants Valley Road crosses Alamo creek.

    • PattiJAdkins profile image

      PattiJAdkins 3 years ago

      I've unfortunately never actually seen one. They are beautiful. How special and thanks for this lens.

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      Kalena 3 years ago

      We have tons of black squirrels in Calgary, Alberta Canada.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I drive the Salem trolley and saw my first black squirrel at the visitors center on Essex street today.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      just saw a black squirrel in richland twp. Pittsburgh pa. 8/4/13

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      There are many black squirrels at the Pines Golf Course in Williamson, Georgia. We saw one this morning with a gray body and black head. The golf course manager reports as many as twenty at one time around the clubhouse.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw a black squirrel 7/20/13 for the first time in Wichita, KS. Freaked the kids out!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw a black squirrel for the first time ever while vacationing in Hayward, Wisconsin.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Yesterday I spotted a Black Squirrel in Covington Ga

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw a black squirrel in Rosepine.Louisiana today.see them all the time

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I saw a black squirrel today in Shallotte, NC - Awesome site to see...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Black squirrel seen on the Isle of Wight UK by Sarah near Smallbrooke Stadium on the roadside in woodland

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      We have a black squirrel running around-Waukesha Wi.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just seen a black squirrel in our back yard this past week for the first time. We've also had an albino one running around in past years.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw a blackie in Jamaica Plain - Boston, MA the other day. Was quite surprised because I've only seen them in the Vancouver/Seatle area. Google has informed me they're also around the Northeast.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just saw a black squirrel in my back yard yesterday in Hazle Township, Pa. It was the first I've ever seen and was a nice looking critter.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      We have black squirrels in Osceola County (St. Cloud/Kissimmee/Orlando).. they are rare, but we have small communities of them. In North Florida (Tallahassee) we also have white squirrels that are not albinos. :)

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 4 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I've never seen a black one, I wonder if we have them in the UK. I think there are some.

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      lionmom100 4 years ago

      I had never seen black squirrels before I went to Vancouver BC. They were apparently brought there from Michigan to Stanley Park. Then I heard of some in northern Washington which makes sense. Not too terribly long ago, I could swear I saw one here in Salem Oregon. They are beautiful.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      growing up

      I have lived in Iowa all of my life and never realized black squirrels were rare. There are always at least 2 in my backyard. It wasn't until a friend moved up from the south that I learned that they were very rare.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      i saw a black squirrel at rohtak in india

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Had a few black underside and face, and brown upper side in clive iowa.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Lenita Brickhouse Campen,

      I remember two years ago a childhood friend of my fathers from nearby Columbia, NC came to visit and they had an interesting conversation about the black squirrels in his back yard. The gentleman called them Fox squirrels.

      My father has since passed and I cannot remember the gentlemans name. Any comments from anyone in Columbia, NC on black squirrels?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I saw a Black squirrel in South Boston....

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I saw one last week here in Centereach, Long Island.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Black squirrels are abundant in Rock Island, IL.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Saw my first one ever today in Walpole

      , New Hampshire!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Seen Black Squirrels in Valley Forge Park and aling the Skullykill Rucer Trail

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I finally saw one of these beautiful animals. I had only heard about them as a child growing up in Western New York State. I was overjoyed to actually see one yesterday sifting through the fallen leaves for pecans. I live in North East Georgia so now, may it be known that our little friends are finding homes in the Southern states as well.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I finally saw one of these beautiful animals. I had only heard about them as a child growing up in Western New York State. I was overjoyed to actually see one yesterday sifting through the fallen leaves for pecans. I live in North East Georgia so now, may it be known that our little friends are finding homes in the Southern states as well.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Have a couple of black squirrels loving my deck [central NYS, lake area]

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw a black squirrel in east Texas between kirbyville and buna yeaserday, 11-26-12.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I saw two black squirrels in Dry Ridge, Ky.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Black squirrel seen in new britain,ct so cute

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I live in new britain,ct i have black squirrel living in my back yard i have seen him for weeks now hes so cute!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I see black and brown squirrels in my Colorado Springs, Colorado yard everyday. They are so cute!!!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      We have lived along a creek for almost thirty years. About 2-3 yrs ago saw our first black squirrel. We have a lot of grey squirrels and some red. We are now on our 3d or 4th back squirrel sighting. They are beautiful. We live in Citrus Heights, Ca

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw one in Newfane VT a few weeks ago! My first sighting! Impressive!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Woodland Park, Colorado.. have built perch on two trees for my black and red and gray squirrels. LOVE them !!!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      We saw 3 in Bridgewater, VT in the last month - 3 different areas!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just saw a black squirrel in Piscataway New Jersey on S. Randolphville Rd. the first time I saw one!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      My son and I saw 2 black squirrels in Riverton, Iowa this past weekend..sooooo cool!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw one in my Hamburg NY yard about an hour ago.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw one in Kansas City, MO last week.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just saw a black squirrel for the first time in Flemington, NJ.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      SAMMIE S

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Saw a black squirrel in Toledo, Ohio today, 9/27/2012.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Just saw two black squirrels in my back yard. Been here five years and never saw them before.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My wife and I were at Niagara Falls this weekend for our wedding anniversary, and we spotted a black squirrel twice on Goat Island where I now see they have been previously spotted before. I had never seen one before, and the information I found on this site today was a good read.

    • grahamcox lm profile image

      grahamcox lm 5 years ago

      I have never seen a black squirrel - something to look forward to!

    • profile image

      dandy3 5 years ago

      They are so cute :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We have a black squirrel in our back yard-jusst showed up one day-we've never seen one before-we live in northeastern wisconsin.

    • AstroGremlin profile image

      AstroGremlin 5 years ago

      Black squirrels are totally interesting, although that one did not do a good job of making a jack o lantern. We raised a regular gray squirrel who was a nut (but very, very cute)! Finally heard the "call of the wild" and ran off.

    • sconnelly711 profile image

      sconnelly711 5 years ago

      Very informative lens!!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 5 years ago

      I love squirrels and do like to feed them in the bitter cold. Where I grew up, the squirrels were mosly grey, but here in Ottawa (only 1.5 hrs drive away), they are mostly black.

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      @anonymous: That friendliness reverts back to wild once released. Sometimes it's a problem when they go up to strangers and think every human just loves them. I have released so many even after having some for a very long time due to illness. They all get back their natural instinct.

    • Craftypicks profile image

      Lori Green 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      I had a black squirrel in my yard for years. There was only one in the neighborhood. We figured someone brought it over from the Bronx where they are very abundant. I named it midnight and it would come when I called it. I always had a walnut treat for him.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      We saved a baby black squirrel last year & bottle fed her. She was so young & almost died from starvation. So we nurtured her & got her healthy, did everything vet said etc. but she became domestic & could not be set free as she is friendly & plays with other animals (cats, dogs etc). Keeping her separated at first didn't help. I guess it's rare to have them so domestic they choose to stay. It was worth it. Hopefully, someday, she will take the freedom. She has chosen to stay for 15 months. Another abandoned litter was found & we hope she will join them in the "free world"- as they are being raised with less interaction. She must be happy, because she can leave anytime she wants to. She's friendly with the kids & people too. Is it truly meant to be if they stay?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Saw my fist black squirrel here in Gaines Mi this am, thought I was seeing things!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      We have a female black squirrel who nests atop our birch tree, and gave birth to four this spring, three black and one grey. They feed on seeds from the bird feeder and so do not have to cross roads. Watching these kids at play has been a delight. Mother (named "Patch) has a dark black patch of fur between her shoulders, and has been here for three years now.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I noticed a black squirrel in my yard for the first time today! It was completely dark black. Rock Hill, New York

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: We are in Canada in a place where there are black squirrels-Whistler B.C. We were at a golf course with a hide on the wall that was at least 5 ft by 3ft and the staff was insistent that it was a black squirrel that had been bothering the course. . Is this possible

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I live in Misouri and saw a black squirrel on my way to work the other morning. I have never seen one before. I thought I was seeing things ???? Pretty neat.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: That is interesting. Last summer we had a black squirrel with a big bushy red tail also, but I haven't seen it since the fall. They are very unusual, that's for sure! I am in Ontario. I am keeping my eye open for others that may be offspring.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      SAW A BLACK SQUIRREL FOR THE FIRST TIME TODAY IT HAD A ALL RED TAIL!! CALLICOON, NY

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      SAW A BLACK SQUIRREL FOR THE FIRST TIME TODAY IT HAD A ALL RED TAIL!! CALLICOON, NY

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: where do you live?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yesterday I saw a pitch black squirrel in my yard and didn't get the camera in time. Long Island, NY

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Saw a black squirrel in Celebration, Fl yesterday. First time I've ever seen one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I seen black squirrels for the first time in Courtland, Oh

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      i saw a black squirrel once when i was a kid. i thought it was the coolest thing, and i have looked for another ever since. today on my way home from work, 15 years later, i saw 2 within 5 minutes of each other. awesome!!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I live in Gold River, CA, 95670 near the American River. There is a black squirrel that lives in a big oak tree near one of the bike paths. I have seen him several times as have many other people. I just saw him again yesterday.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I live in Peterborough Ontario Canada- A black squirrel with a fluffy reddish brown tail is hanging around my bird feeder- could you tell me if this particular squirrel has a specific name....

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Saw our first black squirrel in Bentonville, AR on May 5, 2012. I took some mediocre photos with my iPhone. They are adorable.

    • ResearchAddict profile image

      ResearchAddict 5 years ago

      Great info!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Saw my first black squirrel today near Berlin Ohio

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I saw a black squirrel yesterday morning in Sevierville Tennessee. I didn't even know they existed until I looked it up online.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Very interesting, I have never seen a black squirrel before. Nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      doing a black squirrel report this has ban sooooooo helpful cause the report in for science and were are talking about genes and stuff

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      i saw my first black squirl with a box of air jordans and a car radio

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: i seen my first black squirl with a box of air jordans and a car radio

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      seen my first ever black squirrel in kingston nova scotia canada

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      On my first post I failed to say I live in North Alabama

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      In the past two weeks I have seen 2 of the black squirrels in locations about 10 miles apart. I didn't know what they were. The first on looked similar to a ferret, but it was running loose. The second one was in a cemetery along with a gray one. Tried to get a picture but it was camera shy. They are beautiful.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I seen a black squirrel yesterday about 12 miles from Heber Springs, Arkansas. It changed its mind about crossing the road in front of my truck.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Lovely lens-You gave a lot of information.

    • siobhanryan profile image

      siobhanryan 5 years ago

      Lovely lens-You gave a lot of information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I just saw my first black squirrel. I live in Bellefonte,,PA and was amazed. It is beautiful.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 5 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      While visiting North Vancouver, B.C. we saw one at the Capilano Extension Bridge. He photographed it. They are also running around Stanley Park in Vancouver. Where we live in the Okanagan, we have beautiful bushy tailed brown squirrels. They are such a delight to watch. Love this lens. Angel blessings.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      My husband and I see black squirrels all over the place in the Finger Lakes region of New York where we live. I have been seeing them for about 10 years on a regular basis.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      A few years ago, I saw a black squirrel on the trail in the park (wooded, rustic trail) about 1/2 mile away. With the incredibly warm winter we've had, the squirrels come on my back patio to raid the bird feeder. I now have a regular black squirrel (noticed him beginning of Feb.) He is smaller and has a scrawnier tail , and the others tend NOT to chase him as they chase each other. I live in New Berlin, WI next to Malone Park.

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 5 years ago

      Well written ... Blessed

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 5 years ago

      Well written ... Blessed

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Are they the Fox squirrels? We have many of them out here. I have lived here for 24 yrs. This was the first "melanistic" grey squirrel I have seen.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: We have lived in St Cloud for 10 years and have seen them occasionally since day one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I live in St Cloud Fl. I just saw my first Black Squirrel in my front yard.

    • KilleenMcG profile image

      Killeen 5 years ago from Warner, NH

      You learn something new every day... :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Here in Pontiac Michigan, we had all red squirrels a few years ago now we have black ones in approxamently equal numbers. We even have a black one with a red tail.