Posts Tagged ‘grey squirrel’

As I have written earlier, many melanistic Eastern gray squirrels have red tails, which leads to bizarre conclusions that these squirrel are hybrid with fox squirrels. Melanistic eastern gray squirrels are generally found in the northern parts of their range, where the native fox squirrel subspecies isn’t black at all.

I’ve never heard of the two hybridizing. Eastern grays don’t even like fox squirrels, and although a single fox squirrel can easily beat a gray up, the grays often gang up the fox squirrels. I’ve seen this many times at bird feeders.

This paticular melanistic gray does have an unusual amount of red on it. I’ve never seen one like this before

The vast array of color phases that can be found in the Eastern gray squirrels is really quite remarkable. They come in normal gray. They come in albino, and they have the aforementioned melanistic form.  But there are other colors that are not often mentioned– probably because they aren’t all that widespread.


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They get drunk:


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This comes from a documentary called Daylight Robbery.

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The story can be found here.

And before everyone attacks me for making a West Virginia reference, I was born and raised in West Virginia. And yes, I have eaten gray squirrel before. The meat is better than described in the piece, because all the squirrels I’ve eaten were largely consuming hickory nuts.

The red squirrel is a European species of tassel-eared squirrel. It is not resistant to parapoxviruses, but grays are. The grays are thought to carry these viruses and transmit them to the reds, which is one reason why the Brits want to kill them. Further, grays chip bark far worse than reds. This damages British hardwoods, which aren’t as adapted for intense bark-chipping as North American hardwoods are.

I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I have always heard that gray squirrels kill North American red squirrels, which are different species entirely from the European red. I’ve heard that the grays raid their nests, and castrate the male North American reds. I wonder if this same thing might be going on with the war between European reds and Eastern grays. (The North American red is in the genus Tamiascriurus, while the European red and the gray squirell are both in the genus Sciurus.)

Grays are much more adaptable than European reds, so they can live in much closer proximity to man. They can also withstand the felling of the forests better. All of these events have allowed the gray squirrel to thrive with man in several continents, including South Africa.

So to stop the red squirrel plague, British landowners and game keepers are developing a taste for hillbilly food. It’s likely that the status of squirrel meat will increase, especially if it now considered “green” to eat them. I expect that it will be served in all the finest restaurants in Europe, and then, it will eventually catch on here. And to think, the hillbilies have been eating them for centuries, and for the last hundred years, have been derided for it.

Talk about irony.

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