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Name: Cathy
Status: other
Age: other
Location: IL
Country: N/A
Date: 1/5/2006


Question:
In the city of Chicago, how can you tell the difference between a red colored version of the gray squirrel vs a fox squirrel? (any pictures?) I also had a full black squirrel and a black squirrel with a reddish belly, (the offspring of the black male and a mixed gray/red female). Where did the black squirrels come from?


Replies:
I live in your area and a "red colored version of the gray squirrel" does not offically exiast, however, grey squirrels often are seen with reddish or copper fur.

Grey Squirrel [Scientific Name: Sciurus caroliniensis]

http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/eastern_gray_squirrel.htm

Fox squirrel [Scientific Name: Sciurus niger]

http://www.ku.edu/~mammals/fox-squir.html

Black squirrels are Fox squirrels which have a gene that occasionally show a black appearance in a population. One town in Illinois has all black fox squirrels.

http://www.ku.edu/~mammals/fox-squir.html

Steve Sample


After growing up outside of Chicago myself, I have seen these black squirrels you are talking about! A gray squirrel will grow to be about 17-20 inches long. A fox squirrel will grow to be around 19-28 inches long. Basically, the fox squirrel is much bigger. Another way to tell the two apart is by the tail. A eastern gray squirrel will have silvery-tipped tail hairs. The black coloration is a phase common to the gray squirrel in the more northern regions where they live, whereas the black phase of the fox squirrel is found further south. My guess would be that your black squirrels are eastern gray squirrels. Some scientists think that the black squirrels are actually a different species while others attribute them to differences in genetics, yet still being a gray squirrel. They have yet to come to a conclusion that I know of. Try looking online for pictures at www.nationalgeographic.com. Here you can put in your zip code and find species that live in your area.

Grace Fields


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