Black Squirrels

Cottenham black squirrel

Nothing is black and white, or should that be grey and black?

As I type, I can see two grey squirrels chasing around my back garden, doing the kinds of things swuirrels usually do. But, there’s no sign of the slightly fluffier black squirrel we’ve been seeing around these parts since last November. I’m not worried for Cyril (obvious name really) but curious as to how the ecological dynamic is being disturbed by the grey incomers. Ironic really, given that the black is a simple genetic variant of the American grey and neither are native to the UK. We have our own red squirrel, which is increasingly rare even up North.

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9 thoughts on “Black Squirrels

  1. The area that is now Letchworth Garden City was open countryside between the villages of Norton, Willian and Letchworth until 1903. Then, First Garden City Ltd, the company set up by the founder of Letchworth, Ebenezer Howard, bought the land and started building the town. Near the centre of the town is a large area of open common land. I was told that what had happened was that when building work started there were some colonies of black squirrels living there. As the town built up around them, closing them in on the common, they could not, in effect, move on. So, without predators they thrived and have over the decades spread out from the common all over the town.

    The Black Squirrel pub opened in, I believe, around 1973, as part of the town centre rebuild. It has since closed and is now a restaurant with a different name.

    Having lived with black squirrels all my life, my view is that the main difference is the tails. A black squirrel tail always looks fluffier to me, like it has a thin stem and long hairs, where a grey squirrel tail looks fatter, with shorter hairs on it.

    My family have been in Letchworth since before 1911 and I’ve never heard any of them mention red squirrels here – and as they tend to be much further north, I would say that its unlikely there have been any here in the last 100 years +

    Hope this helps.

    GDR

  2. Would be interested to know how long the black squirrels have been in Letchworth.

    Which coloured squirrel do you think they were originally from?

    Were there every any red squirrels in Letchworth?

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