On a recent trip to northern Indiana, I witnessed a most amazing sight. At first I thought it was a cat stalking it's dinner and then I realized it was a black squirrel. I have never heard of a black squirrel but they are for real!
Black squirrels are comparatively rare. They are actually eastern gray squirrels with a genetic condition called "melanism". Creatures with this condition appear completely black due to the dark pigment in their skin. Black panthers also have this condition.
Black squirrels thrive in the midwestern and northeastern parts of the United States and are also found in Britain, Quebec and Ontario. The city of Kent, Ohio has a particularly large population because black squirrels were introduced to the area by a scientist studying their impact on the local ecosystem. They are abundant in urban areas because they easily coexist with humans.
Black squirrels have some advantages over their brown, red and gray cousins. The squirrel's black coat acts as camouflage in the dense, dark forests, protecting them from predators. The black skin absorbs more of the sun's heat to help them stay warmer in the winter months.
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