Friday, December 26, 2008

Squirrels and the Web

Through a good part of the fall, my squirrel feeding station was steadily visited by three black squirrels and two grey squirrels. To the degree that I paid attention it seemed that they were the same ones each time, and they seemed to know me, as they would look expectantly whenever they saw me even a few houses down the block (and I did check to see if they responded to everyone that way - they did not).

Now the station is visited by five black squirrels, or so it seems. The obvious explanation is that the grey squirrels now have black fur for the winter. SillyWife pointed out that some of the apparently black squirrels are not quite as black as the others, and this seem to possibly confirm this theory. But in all my searches on the Web trying to confirm this possibility, I have yet to find any reference to seasonal coat color changes in grey squirrels. For example the Wikipedia references to both forms refer to the black one as a "melanistic" form of the grey one, and mention albino and black forms of the grey, but make no references to the seasonal colour change. I did see one reference to two moults per year, which certain makes the change possible.

As a truly amateur amateur naturalist, I own a couple of field guides (see below) to North American wildlife, and both of these mention the possibility of greys being black in the winter.

So why the lacuna of information on the Web? Does it have to do with the restricted range of black-coloured squirrels.?

I guess, as far as Wikipedia goes, I can fix that myself, as I certainly have good citations.


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