bob_G

Black squirrel

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3 hours ago, mikez2 said:

Apparently the form of melanism in squirrels is called "adaptive" melanism. 

This means the black color lends advantage to survival, presumably through reduced visibility. 

It is also a dominant trait which means only one black parent is needed for black offspring. 

The trait dominance and the survival advantage is the reason they have spread in my lifetime. 

 

If my observations that black squirrels are centered in developed areas and rare in the woods is correct, that suggests the advantage conveyed by the black color is related to living around humans.

Someday maybe all city squirrels will be black.

 

Regarding your last paragraph. I have heard that black contrasts better against pavement which aids survivability around humans leading to a higher likelihood that the black squirrels will pass along that genetic trait as they are less likely to be run over.

Edited by Beastly Backlash

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38 mins ago, bdowning said:

Saw one of these in Mass a few years ago. Can't for the life of me remember where, but it wasn't on my property.

 

 

white_squirrel.jpg

 

We had three all whites a few years back in our woodsy, tucked away, inner city Boston neighborhood.

Had rabbits as well.... plus two turkeys.  Hawks/falcons got the rabbits and whitey. 

No one figured out where the two turkeys ended up, but we suspect the developers of the adjacent high rise had them carted away to Franklin Park Zoo because of all the construction.

 

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Turkeys are pretty much taking over the world. We had an enormous tom at our feeder all winter. No doubt he was driving off subordinate birds. He even chased Sandy one day when she went to fill a feeder. But a fox ran him off, and he's gone to parts unknown. Suddenly we have hens and toms everywhere.

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27 mins ago, Beastly Backlash said:

 

Regarding your last paragraph. I have heard that black contrasts better against pavement which aids survivability around humans leading to a higher likelihood that the black squirrels will pass along that genetic trait as they are less likely to be run over.

Would the assumption there be that people are trying to run over the squirrels?

Maybe people do but they seem to be pretty good at finding their way under my wheels without any effort on my part.

 

interestingly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black one dead in the road (we have a pretty good population in my area and I’ve been keeping an eye out for roadkill.. there’s a squirrel hair streamer I like that I’d  love to tie out of a black one)

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We've never seen squirrels like this year. They're decimating our feeders. We had to switch over to more expensive safflower seeds which they don't like to keep them at bay.

We planted a small fortune in tulip bulbs last fall and they dug up and ruined most of the bulbs.

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32 mins ago, SkunkLuvver said:

Would the assumption there be that people are trying to run over the squirrels?

Maybe people do but they seem to be pretty good at finding their way under my wheels without any effort on my part.

 

interestingly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black one dead in the road (we have a pretty good population in my area and I’ve been keeping an eye out for roadkill.. there’s a squirrel hair streamer I like that I’d  love to tie out of a black one)

Yah I have had my eye out for a roadkill for 20 years and I used to drive all day in the heart of their local territory. 

 

For awhile I dated a woman who got them at her feeder. No way to use the .177 with windows all around, snooping neighbors behind them.

I just about had her convinced to let me live trap one when I accidentally admitted why I wanted one.

Turned out we didn't agree about skinning animals for decorative purposes. And a bunch of other stuff.

 

I like the blacktop theory. Most of the top predators are visual. Redtail hawks and house cats probably get the most.

Black squirrel on black pavement gotta be harder to see.

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the Ballardvale section in Andover Ma is known to have a sizable population of white squirrels as well as being the neighborhood where Jay Leno grew up.  I live in the next town over and had a few black squirrels but that was maybe 10 years ago.  I’ll see a black one running across the road now and then.

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2 hours ago, bob_G said:

We've never seen squirrels like this year. They're decimating our feeders. We had to switch over to more expensive safflower seeds which they don't like to keep them at bay.

We planted a small fortune in tulip bulbs last fall and they dug up and ruined most of the bulbs.

My neighborhood (and my yard in particular) is lousy with squirrels. I don’t have feeders out but I have a mix of walnut and oak on my property with a few hollow maples mixed in for nesting so it’s sort of a **** show.

When they start moving into my house or shop I do a bit of a purge with traps and occasionally.177 when I’m sure my neighbors are gone.

 

Last Mother’s Day I got home from work at the same time as my GF and we noticed there was a squirrel in the trap we put next to a tree. We go over and there’s momma squirrel in the cage and her little baby clinging to the tree next to her completely freaking out.

Needless to say she got released immediately (Momma’s day and all).

She was trap shy after that so it took me a good 6 mos before I caught her again and relocated her. Lol

They’ve done some pretty expensive damage to my house and shop over the years so my compassion has waned a little.:mad:

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I found a black chipmunk years ago in Devens.

It ran across the road in front of me and I was shocked. I actually could not tell what kind of animal it was. Looked like some exotic pet.

 

I went back later and actually found it and watched it interact with normal chipmunks which is how I figured out what it was. I failed to get pics.

That thing was so cool, I wanted it for a pet. I still keep a careful eye out when I drive by there.

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I agree that in the N.E. that they seem to be near population centers. I have been told that the reason for that is not they are better adapted to urban environs due to black color, but that in areas with higher levels of predation, like the countryside, that they are more susceptible to hawks. 

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3 hours ago, bob_G said:

We've never seen squirrels like this year. They're decimating our feeders. We had to switch over to more expensive safflower seeds which they don't like to keep them at bay.

We planted a small fortune in tulip bulbs last fall and they dug up and ruined most of the bulbs.

 

Squirrel soup is supposed to be good.

 

All you need is a quality pellet rifle.

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Black color is a recessive trait in  Grey squirrels and this can lead to a pretty quick jump in the population. If I remember correctly there is some speculation that the genes involved also help with resistance to disease.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Someone mentioned fox squirrels.  Are there any in the northeast?  I had never seen one until my mother relocated to Ann Arbor and I visited there.  They have chased all the grey squirrels out of town there. No fox squirrels in southern Ohio when I was growing up.

Edited by buz23

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