I've only seen gray squirrels, so imagine my surprise when I saw a black one.

I spotted black squirrels in Fly Creek on my way to Cooperstown. I have never seen one or heard of one. I tried to get pictures of the little rascals running around and playing but couldn't get a good shot. Thankfully, my friend Bill Simons had some awesome ones I could use.

BILL SIMONS

The black squirrel occurs as a melanistic subgroup of both the eastern gray squirrel and the fox squirrel. Their habitat extends throughout the Midwestern United States, in some areas of the Northeastern United States, Eastern Canada, and also in the United Kingdom. The overall population of black squirrels is small when compared to that of the grey squirrel. Black squirrels enjoy affection in some places as mascots.

According to Wikipedia:

Large natural populations of black (eastern gray) squirrels can be found throughout Ontario and in several parts of Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, Houston, Indiana, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Populations of gray squirrels in which the black subgroup is predominant can be found in these six areas as well as in smaller enclaves in Missouri, New Jersey, southern New York, Illinois, Connecticut, and California. Outside areas of North America where black squirrels occur naturally in abundance, there are several notable introduced populations of black squirrels

BILL SIMONS

Mentalfloss says black squirrels are uncommon, with one estimate putting them at a rate of one in every 10,000 squirrels.

BMC Evolutionary Biology demonstrated that the black squirrel is the product of interspecies breeding between the common gray squirrel and the fox squirrel. The black squirrel is actually a gray squirrel with a faulty pigment gene carried over from the fox squirrel that turns their fur a darker shade. (Some fox squirrels, which are usually reddish-brown, are also black.) [Mentalfloss]

Have you seen black squirrels in CNY? If so, where? Let us know in the comments below.

[Information from Wikipedia and Mentalfloss]