Meet the Black Squirrel

You have probably seen the grey. You may even have encountered or at least heard of the red. However, have you ever seen a black squirrel? Take a look at this small but dark beasty of the forest. Oh, and they are really, really cute.

Image Credit

This is the black squirrel.  Out of the squirrel population of the United States and Canada perhaps only one in ten thousand is black.  However, this is not a separate species in itself.  It is in fact a sub-group of the grey squirrel and, little by little their numbers are growing.  In fact in some areas they outnumber the greys.  However, this black coloring is not a recent trend among the squirrel community – research indicates that in the days before the European settlement of the America the black squirrel was probably much more numerous than the grey. 

Image Credit

The Black Squirrel does have some natural advantages over the grey, not least in its photogenic appeal to photographers who still work in black and white.  Instead of being a separate species, the Black Squirrel is in fact what is known as a melanistic subgroup.  Midwestern North America is their stomping ground although there are groups to be found in the UK (more of which later).  Melanism is caused by an increased level of black pigmentation, a compound which determines color called melanin.  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.

Image Credit

It’s all about natural selection, so it seems.  The Black Squirrels (I am inclined to shorten this to BS but it has rather unfortunate implications) can be found wherever the greys live.  It is quite common for two greys to mate and to produce a mixture of black and grey offspring.  It seems that the blacks were more common than the greys before European settlement because their darker color enabled them to hide in the dark forests which covered the continent at that time.

Image Credit

73
Liked it
74 Responses to “Meet the Black Squirrel”
  1. Chris S. Says...

    On April 9, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    I live in Staten Island, New York and on the other side of my town about 1/2 mile away there are a bunch of black squirrels. However, in my yard all I have are the greys. Have been waiting and watching for a few years for a black in my yard, but no luck yet.

    Wish there was something I could do to expedite the arrival of the blacks……


  2. Justin Says...

    On April 29, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I live in Remsen Iowa and we have approx. 5-10 black squirrels in and out of our yard. The only thing i noticed is they are a little more hyper than the original squirrels.


  3. Mimi Says...

    On May 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    We have a Black with white on the tips of the ears, plus a white and black very long bush tail living in our Naples, Florida community. It is a longer squirrel and has more of bounce to it’g gate, very cute! We enjoy seeing this squirrel!


  4. suhadi Says...

    On May 20, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Thank you for sharing this article here.
    I’ve never seen a black squirrel.
    The animals look so cute.

    Pigment Making The World of Living Things Become Full Color


  5. Gayle Says...

    On May 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    My daughter and I live in Cincinnati, Ohio . We were headed to the park and we saw a black squirrel. We could not believe our eyes so I turn the car around to make sure that is what we were looking at and took pics with our cell phones it was incredible.


  6. MellissaandLatte Says...

    On May 27, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    I am privileged to have a family of black squirrels in my suburban backyard. We are located in Crawford Co. region of Ohio. I enjoy watching the darker color black youth jump from branch to branch. It almost appears as if they are flying. A few of the older adults have a more mottled appearance in color. We have a walnut tree at the corner of our property that they enjoy, as well as harvesting rose-hips from our nearby wild rose bushes. I have read about their history and popularity at Kent State. This year I am purchasing nesting boxes for my furry friends so they winter-well… I am so glad they chose my backyard. Thanks for the wonderful pics and article.


  7. vixen Says...

    On May 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    I live in the foothills of northern California. We have an abundance of red/brown squirrels and a few Greys. I saw my first black one yesterday. It was was so pretty. By the time I got my camera it had scampered off. Never knew of the black squirrel until now!


  8. Geri G. Says...

    On May 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    I live in Bellevue, Neb. and we have been invaded by the black squirrels for years. They migrated over the Missouri river from Iowa and they are the coolest. Aggressive, but cool.


  9. Dave Says...

    On June 14, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    I live in Toronto, Ontario and the grey is the rare one over here. I can confirm that the black ones are more hyper. I don’t know what’s to like about them though, they are still a rodent and a pest.

    Dave


  10. dally Says...

    On June 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    We have the grey ones in Vancouver, but I always see the blacks around here. They do seem to be more aggressive, one was actually witnessed lighting a police car on fire after a hockey game.


  11. Melanie Says...

    On June 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I am in Houston TX. A friend and I saw a black squirrel and could not believe it… I have seen a lot of squirrel but never a black one! Now I want to see an albino…


  12. Joan ( london) Says...

    On July 24, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I am on vacation in Umbria Italy and I just seen a black one for the 1st today! I never knew until now that they existed


  13. Angelia Handshoe Says...

    On August 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    They are so very adorable. I saw my fist black squirrel a few years back in my neighborhood. You do not see them often but occasionally the seem tohang out especially if I fill the bird feeder. I think they ar so cute becuase they are so tiny and seem to have a short little tail. Hope they continue to stay a breed more around here. Botkins, Ohio


  14. Val Says...

    On August 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I saw my second ever black squirrel today. They are so hard to get pics of, they seem to be more skittish then the greys. But so neat to see, as anything different is. I hope to get some photos of him, since I saw him only a 1/2 mile down the road.


  15. Ann Says...

    On August 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    We now have black squirrels in California!

    I live in the far East San Francisco Bay Area (Livermore, CA). We don’t have red squirrels in this area – no grays.

    Black squirrels started popping up around town.They are found randomly with red squirrels. Is this anew genetic trend for red squirrels of California?


  16. Bob Mayfield Says...

    On September 1, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Here in Kent, OH most of the squirrels are black. We even celebrate the black squirrel as the unoffical mascot of Kent. There are several businesses named after the black squirrel. Black Squirrel Books, Black Squirrel Gallery, Black Squirrel publishing are just a few.


  17. Susan Schaller Says...

    On September 7, 2011 at 9:58 am

    We live in LaCrosse, WI. I have noticed that there are more black squirrels than I have seen in the past. I have also noticed that they are out getting all their “nuts in a roll”. They have been collecting nuts for the last 3 weeks. They are all carrying nuts. Does anyone beleive that this means an earlier winter! I sure hope not.


  18. joan monahan Says...

    On September 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Joan Monahan Chelmsford, Mass. Saw my first black squirrel yesterday in my Mothers yard. She always has her bird feeders full and will hand feed the chipmunks and sometimes a gray squirrel by hand. I was surprised at how the gray squirrels got along with this black one. Sitting on the deck watching for him again will be fun. I have never seen a black one before and felt very special.


  19. Ryan Dixon Says...

    On September 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I saw several while working yesterday outside Payson IL, I hope to start seeing some further north around Hamilton where I live. If they were to establish themselves a colony it would provide all of us squirrel hunters with a little extra variety to go with our grays and fox squirrels. I will be sure to leave them off the menu until they get a good foothold.


  20. lillien Says...

    On September 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I just saw one for the first time………which is why I logged on to make sure that they existed. It was in a far western suburb of Chicago…….St. Charles.


  21. joyce hammond Says...

    On September 20, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I live on Cape Cod in Massachussetts. I saw a black squirrel today in Falmouth. First time I’ve seen one.


  22. P. Orwin Says...

    On September 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    We have a black squirrel in our neighborhood in Downers Grove, Il.
    I have been seeing it much more now that he is feasting in my two oak trees. He does catch your eye. The first time I saw him this summer I didn’t know what I was seeing. He is the same size as the grey and is pure black.


  23. Mary Says...

    On September 24, 2011 at 10:47 am

    I live in Newton, Iowa and saw my first black squirrel. The first time I thought I was seeing things. Then two days layer one ran across the street in front of me. How cool.


  24. Helene Says...

    On September 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I live in Chapleau up in Northern Ontario (Zone 2b) Canada and I saw one in my backyard this morning feeding on the bird seed I scatter there every day. Couldn’t believe my eyes, wasn’t sure what it was at first. Up here we usually get brown squirrels and chipmunks. Black squirrels are definitely unheard of up here. But then again, two summers ago a pelican was photographed on our river. Effects of climate change? BTW ‘dally’ from Vancouver, your post is hilarious!


  25. Ginger Says...

    On September 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I live in Memphis, TN and have never seen a black squirell there. I travel all over the country as part of my job and am in Elkhart, IN at the moment. I have seen 2 black squirells here and was absolutely amazed at what I was seening. Never knew they existed and it was definately a treat to see one.
    Thanks for having this article online. I KNEW I wasn’t crazy…lol


  26. Oscar Newman Says...

    On October 2, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    We have just seen our first black squirrel in Celebration, FL! Never knew they existed until now – we couldn’t believe our eyes.


  27. Shasta Says...

    On October 5, 2011 at 8:27 am

    My 1st time seeing a black squirrel was this a.m. It was midnight black and was rather huge to be a squirrel. We have plenty of grey squirrels out in Wayne County, NC but not these black critters. Didn’t know they existed til I looked it up just now so that I could identiy the squirrel. Very cool!


  28. Chris Says...

    On October 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Black squirrel just ran across my roof in Baton Rouge, LA. They’ve made it south. Thanks for the article.


  29. Bill Kolodychuk Says...

    On October 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Bill says

    I live in Kelowna, BC Canada and we have a black squirrel in the back yard. This is the first one I’ve seen and it’s quite long and and very frisky. Hope it stills around.


  30. Mark Says...

    On October 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    They are just as delicious as the greys and are a lot easier to spot in the woods.


  31. Mac Says...

    On November 16, 2011 at 9:18 am

    We have 2 black squirrels living on our farm in Concord, Ga. One has a white nose and is the same size as a grey. The other is all black and is quite a bit bigger than the greys. It has a very long and very bushy tail. When he is running across a field, the tail flows like a silk scarf trailing behind him.
    We also have several fox-squirrels living on our property that are simular in size and tail length to our larger, all black squirrel.
    I wonder if the black and fox-squirrels could be breeding?


  32. Quilterone Says...

    On November 16, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    We saw our first Black Squirrel today. It ran out in front of the car I slowed down to get a better look. It was beautiful, hope to see more here in Bloominton MN.


  33. wolff Says...

    On November 26, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Jewell iowa is infested with the black ones. Seem to be more aggressive.


  34. Michael McCormick Says...

    On December 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Although one post from Naples saw Black Squirrels, I had never seen one until moving to Ohio 2 months ago after living in Florida for 40 years. I live just south of Akron and was pleasantly surprised to see one several houses away from mine in a neighbors yard. Very beautiful animal.


  35. Katpaige Says...

    On January 1, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I live south of Boston, Massachusetts and saw a black squirrel in my backyard this morning. The color was brilliant and no doubt black. We abut woods and have millions of grey squirrels, never seen a black one until today. We recently spotted flying squirrels coming to our bird feeders, It’s been interesting the past few weeks to see these creatures that we never saw before in all the years living here.


  36. Calgarian Says...

    On January 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I live in Calgary, Alberta. The black squirrel is probably the most common squirrel you will see, which is interesting because they are not native to Western Canada. Apparently they are more aggressive than the other species of squirrels and as such have dominated squirrel habitats. My yard was basically infested with these thing. They aren’t really that pretty to look at. They are ratty, and often patchy, and make a great racket all day from their nests at the top of big fur trees. If you have recently begun seeing these things in your city, you’re in for a real treat!


  37. Bethontheriver Says...

    On January 8, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I feel special. I’ve known about black squirrels for many years. As a child I used to visit my aunt and uncles cabin near Mio, Michigan. Their property is surrounded by state Forrest. We always saw black squirrels in the Forrest up there. I’m 43 and this was back when I was 7 or so. it’s nice to know that other people are finding them and able to enjoy them. And I have to say I laughed at the comment about “after the hockey game.”


  38. tom Says...

    On January 12, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    idiots. i saw a black squirrel once and freaked out almost as much as ricky…


  39. K. Olson Says...

    On January 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I just saw a black squirrel in Downers Grove, IL. First time I saw him in our area. Maybe it is the same one as the previous poster in Downers Grove, IL. So far he has been here for three days.


  40. Henry & Jan Hekker Says...

    On January 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    We live in rural Burnet county Texas 65 miles n/w of Austin and our land is a wildlife habitat. we put out feed and water for all kinds of animals, primarily deer and birds. NO HUNTING allowed. There are two black squirrels living in a large rock pile about 50 yards from the house. They are often seen sitting on the top rocks looking out over what’s going on. other times they chase each other around like a couple of kids. We really enjoy watching all the wildlife.


  41. NWWA Says...

    On January 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I’ve viewed these in evergreen cedars in Whatcom Co here in NW WA.


  42. fps Says...

    On February 3, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I saw my first black squirrel about a month ago here in Celebration, FL (just outside of Orlando). Saw a couple more yesterday and in taking to neighbors they say they’ve been seeing them for about a year. We apparently have a thriving and growing population and they’ve pushed out the grays in the limited areas where they’re living.


  43. Jason Says...

    On February 27, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Hillsdale, KS. located in Miami county has Black Squirrels numbering in the thousands. The Black Squirrel is the only type in this town and they are huge! By huge I mean they are a good 2 to 3 inches taller than the greys that inhabbit the surrounding areas. My grandfather used to live there before he passed and everywhere you looked there were Black Squirrels. For anyone interested I would recommend going there to see them. I have been comtemplating going back there and trapping a dozen or so to take back to my neighborhood in Overland Park, KS.(Suburb of Kansas City) since I live only 20 miles north from there.


  44. dawn Says...

    On February 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I saw a black squirrel on my way to school one morning, I was so amazed! i live in laurel hill, nc and had never seen one before. i had to ask several people what it was. i was very shocked to learn that others knew about them! i had never even heard of it before. i saw it again the other day and now everyday on my way to school i look for it!


  45. Ann Says...

    On February 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I have one black squirrel here in MD. just outside of Wash DC.
    It has been around for a year. I feed both grays and the black one with various nuts, fruits etc. Pugnatious, as i call him seems more independent of the grays, however runs with them. He is also more jumpy..active. Pretty little one.
    Hope he stays around for a good while. Seems to be more responsive to human voice. The first in line for feeding times!!
    Interesting little creature.


  46. kristen sistrunk Says...

    On March 1, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I live in detroit and.thats all u see everyday is black.squirls! They actually are the only squirls ive seen here


  47. Bobbie Says...

    On April 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I saw a black squirrel with some white on its head run across a country road in Newnan, Georgia. It appeared longer than a grey squirrel. I just looked it up and that is what I saw. Pretty neat. And I am not a squirrel lover since the grey ones in my yard eat my bird food. But enjoyed seeing a different type.


  48. Juliet Crowne Says...

    On April 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    My friend and I saw a black squirrel yesterday at Crystal Bridges Museum, on the walking trail, in Bentonville Arkansas… We were both amazed, we had never seen a black squirrel! WOW!


  49. Regina Says...

    On May 8, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I saw my first ever black squirrel this weekend while loading my son’s Jeep to bring him home for the summer from Ball State. (Muncie, IN) I was really surprised but my son says they are quite common in Muncie.


  50. leleknight Says...

    On May 15, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I live in Georgia & today my dad was telling me that he saw a black squirrel on saturday when he and his sister went fishing @ one of the fishing ponds on Ft. Stewart. I haven’t seen one yet but hope to soon. My dad also said that they are a lot bigger and have a longer tail than the squirrels that we always see.


  51. Kay Says...

    On May 19, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I just saw my first ever black squirrel on my acreage near Omaha, Nebraska. The little bugger was so skittish that I only got one halfway-decent photo of him. I hope that he or she sets up house here and is successful–the coloration is much more interesting.


  52. Char Says...

    On May 31, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I , too, had never seen a black squirrel – until October 2010 while visiting Washington, D.C. We saw squirrels everywherre throughout the week. We were staying in Arlington, VA and had taken a walk through a residential neighborhood on our last day, and that’s when we saw the black squirrel. He was quite “squirrley” and was jumping all around that yard while a gray one nearby watched. I did get one good picture when he finally stopped to eat a nut, but I would love to see more and get closer up pictures.

    You want to know what’s a trip? White squirrels! They look like mice and they’re very prevelent in Olney, IL! I live in Southern California and wish there were black and white squirrels here!


  53. Thad Says...

    On May 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    We just discovered a black squirrel living under the deck in our backyard in San Antonio Texas. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first because I couldn’t get close without it running under the deck. It seems to be getting used to the surroundings though as he has started to hangout under the bird feeders occationally. We have several red squirrels that it doesn’t seem to associate with at all and I’m fairly sure there is only one. We were wondering if someone possibly imported it as a pet. Has anyone else seen one in South Texas?


  54. angelatc (@AngelaTC) Says...

    On June 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    49 year old female, from Michigan – saw my first black squirrel today.


  55. C Mac Says...

    On June 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Guess they are not as rare as was thought, after reading all these posts on black squirrel sightings! (Hehe) My daughter & I just saw one in our yard here on Staten Island, NY. It stayed when we came near & it wasn’t shy. Even let us take its picture. Then, when my 2 small dogs got out, they cornered it up a tree. It was very feisty. Kept trying to find a way down even though they were right there. As soon as I grabbed my dogs, it ran down & quickly scaled the fence. It even turned to us like it was annoyed! :)


  56. diana Says...

    On August 15, 2012 at 12:09 am

    was able to hand feed a wild black squirrel at a park in Victoria, BC yesterday. It was so tame that I think it was hand raised and released. I was amazed to see this squirrel. It was so cute. I thought it was a different species until I went online and did some research.


  57. Stan Says...

    On August 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    We saw for the first time what we identified as a Large Black Squirrel that was sitting in the tree in our back yard. We thought at first we had a baby bear in the tree, which was impossible,until it turned around and dropped its tail over the branch it was sitting on. Boy was he big…easily as large as the pure bred Shih Tzu we had, his tail was as long as his body.We
    hadn’t known that we had the Large Blacks in Calgary.


  58. Jean Says...

    On September 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Saw my first black squirrel while at Knoebels Amusement Park in Elysburg, PA over the Labor Day weekend. Too cute. Have plenty of gray ones begging for peanuts and eating bird seed and suet in my back yard.


  59. Maribel Escalante Says...

    On September 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    I am from San Antonio, TX and on Aug. 26, 2012 my husband and I were jogging at the Phil Hardberger Park on Blanco Rd. We were both shocked to come across a blk squirrel and I thought it was a skunk. We had to go around it because it didn’t move nd didn’t seem afraid of us


  60. Maribel Escalante Says...

    On September 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    I am from San Antonio, TX and on Aug. 26, 2012 my husband and I were jogging at the Phil Hardberger Park on Blanco Rd. We were both shocked to come across a blk squirrel and I thought it was a skunk. We had to go around it because it didn\’t move nd didn\’t seem afraid of us


  61. Denise Says...

    On September 23, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    We live in the prairies just out side Strathmore Alberta east of Calgary. I have seen black Squirrels in Strathmore but recently found one on our farm.


  62. Loralee Says...

    On October 7, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Sighted one for first time in Horseheads, NY, 25 minutes north pennsylvania, 5 hours west of New York City.


  63. Elaine Says...

    On October 10, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Saw my first one today in Westerlo, NY, 25 miles south west of Albany . It was a little smaller than a gray & looked really soft. The grays didn’t bother it. I hope I see it again!


  64. Wilma Sierra Says...

    On October 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Saw my first black squirrel on Sunday, October 7th, 2012 in White Plains, New York. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was so very cool. I didn’t know they existed.


  65. Demetrio Ornelas Says...

    On October 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm

    My daughter and I saw our first black squirrel today while walking our dogs in Munster Indiana. The squirrel looked so cute. I felt like I was watching something special. 1 in 10,000 squirrels are black.


  66. Julie Says...

    On October 20, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Black squirrels are just beautiful! I’ve only seen about a half a dozen so far, but am amazed when I do see one.
    Whenever I see a black squirrel, I consider it good luck. (:


  67. Ginnymo66 Says...

    On November 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I am 66 years old and saw my first black squirrel ever, right outside my window on November 3, 2012. I ran and got my camera and got lots of pictures and video of it. It came back today and I got more video. I think it’s here to stay! I have tons of grays and a few red ones. I hope they all get along. I feed them all so they won’t go hungry this winter. I live in Mohawk, NY, which is in the central area. I’ve been asking people if they’ve ever seen one and not many have. I am thrilled! He is so pretty! Same size as the grays. Very healthy looking.


  68. Jamie Says...

    On November 21, 2012 at 1:04 am

    We are visiting in Washington, D.C. and saw a black squirrel for the first time today. had to look online & make sure I wasn’t dreaming! It was very pretty.


  69. peggy gibas Says...

    On November 23, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I am in Chicag and I see the same one in the same tree evey day. I only have seen just this one. It took two weeks before I was able to get a picture


  70. Jerry Says...

    On December 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado and have two Black Squirrels that have shown up in the last few months. They seem much more stand offish than the Grays. After reading how few there are in the United States I feel very lucky to have these little guys in my backyard. They are getting better about me being there, but they are suckers for Peanuts in the shells so they put up with me.


  71. Dan Lima Says...

    On December 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Saw a black squirrel in Falmouth, Cape Cod today, by the bike path off 28.


  72. Bill Cuthbertson Says...

    On December 17, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    We live in Weddington NC and one day last year a black squirrel just showed up in our front yard. Actually for years we had no squirrels at all which was strange because live in a rural community. This year they are all over the place and are actually damaging our house so badly we are trying to get rid of them. We are going to try to trap them first and if that doesn’t work we will have to take more drastic steps. They are sort of cute but will challenge you if you get too close.


  73. Debi Kunst Says...

    On February 15, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I saw my first black squirrel just the other day in Saint Peter, MN. Had to get a pair of binnoculars wo make sure what I was seeing. A very fancy fashion of our grey squirrel. Hope to see another one some day where I can get a picture.


  74. Bugs Says...

    On March 23, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I was in Fair Oaks, CA today and saw a black squirrel. I could hardly believe what I was seeing!


Post Comment
comments powered by Disqus