I had never seen a black squirrel until I moved to New York City in 2003. If you’ve never seen one, they look very similar to grey squirrels, but their black fur is softer and silkier looking. They are shiny, too.
As explained in a great Daily News article, black squirrels are a mutation from the regular everyday ordinary (and quite common) gray squirrel. Normally, they wouldn’t thrive in the “wild” because they can’t blend in as well. However, in urban environments — with their plethora of black surfaces — black squirrels can thrive. They are now fairly common all over the Eastern seaboard.
In Long Island, one elementary school has even launched a study program on black squirrels. (How fun — I never did anything so hands-on in elementary school!)
“These pint-size biologists go out in the field and collect data: counting the black and gray squirrels they see, along with their nests, and taking soil and air temperature readings.
Armed with hand-held GPS units, they also track the locations where they spot black squirrels and plug that data into computer mapping programs, such as Google Earth.
“They put thumbtacks everywhere they saw black squirrels so that they can see …where they’re clustering,” Miller said.