Adult Black Squirrel Nabbed for Eating Junk Food

You can’t blame a squirrel for being tempted by all the junk food found in gas station convenience stores. Especially with a stiff winter chill blanketing the Midwest. But you’d think they’d go after the nuts or crackers — not so, apparently:

“As [Ohio cop] Sergeant Doug Hines was talking with a store employee, they heard a rustling coming from one of the aisles and found an adult black squirrel munching on some chocolate snack cakes.

Police say Officer Brandon McCray arrived to provide back-up, and there were some unsuccessful attempts to wrangle the animal out of the store — until the squirrel attached itself to McCray’s back.”

McCray ran outside, where the squirrel was brushed off his back, and escaped, unharmed, tummy full of cookies.

Squirrels as Art: Mario Ybarra Jr’s Black Squirrel Society

Super-cool L.A. artist Mario Ybarra Jr’s most recent work is inspired by my favorite squirrel, the black squirrel. His latest exhibition, Black Squirrel Society, is on display at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea (Manhattan, NY). It’s urban, it’s hip and it’s squirrels. What’s not to love?

In an interview with ArtInfo.com, Ybarra explains why he focused on squirrels:

“Last summer, … Ybarra encountered a black squirrel on the street and was immediately struck by its unusual color. Growing up in L.A., he says, he never imagined that anything like a black squirrel could exist. … Ybarra began to fantasize about a [record] label with the black squirrel as its emblem, and eventually he decided to make it into a full-scale art project.

The squirrels even have a theme song, a dance number composed by Ybarra called “Paws Down, Tails Up.” There is, of course, more than a dash of tongue-in-cheek humor to all of this. As Ybarra puts it, “It’s funny to think of a bad-ass little squirrel.”

To see his bad-ass work, go to the Lehman Maupin Gallery’s site.

Black Squirrels Move to England, Stirring…Racism?

The Washington City Paper blog has an intriguing article on the emerging presence of black squirrels in the U.K.

For those of you that have never seen them, black squirrels look just like greys, but are darker and have silkier hair. I think they’re prettier, and I’d been told that they were simply a genetic variant – much like the many hues of kittens that can be found in just one litter.

Apparently, however, it appears that the British press — already worried about the decimation of the local, indigenous red squirrel population (the original Squirrel Nutkin was a red squirrel) — is now fussing over the emergence of black squirrels, blaming the black squirrels as being more “testosterone-charged… fitter, faster and more fiercely competitive than both reds or greys.”

Huh?

Also: “Sex selection is also boosting their numbers because female greys appear to prefer them as mates.”

Yes, I’m starting to giggle now.

The City Paper‘s criticism: “The Black Squirrel Heads to England, Inspires Subtly Racist Science Reporting

and the U.K. Daily Mail article that is mentioned: “The pack of mutant black squirrels that are giving Britain’s grey population a taste of their own medicine

Black Squirrels Becoming More Common

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.