Saturday, 29 May 2010
Black Squirrel in the Yard - Great Pictures
Rather than being a new phenomenon, it is thought that when Europeans first came to Americas that, in all likelihood, the majority of squirrels at the time were black. They had adapted to the dense and lush forests of the continent and since then have slowly changed color as we have encroached upon and changed their territory.
Contrary to what many people think, the black squirrel is not a separate species on its own. It is what is known as a melanistic sub-group. It is simply the outward appearance of an abundance of melanin in the squirrel - the substance that gives animals their color. You can think of melanism as being the opposite of albinism, which is where melanin is lacking or simply not there.
This form of melanism is useful to the black squirrels of the world. They are able to take in more solar radiation than greys and that means that they stay warmer and so can live in colder areas. Also, because of this they do not need as much food either - even though this guy needs to have the odd free drink of water to survive.
Many thanks to Cindy for these great pictures. You can see more of the black squirrels here or by clicking on any of the pictures above.