The Black Squirrel: Merry Mascots in Disguise?

The black squirrel is an abundant yet exotic animal that is featured on the college campus of Wooster. One can often see them skittering along the grass or climbing up a mighty tree. They can be seen just about anywhere on campus yet not many people know much about them. It’s like its slick black coat of fur brings a shroud of mystery behind it.  How are they different from other squirrels? I intend on answering this question, as well as looking more in-depth of its cultural impact, in hopes that we get to make a deeper understanding of these furry little creatures.

The origins of the black squirrel may shock you but these critters are found in most of America and even in other parts of the world like England. They are a subgroup of two animals, the eastern gray squirrel and the fox squirrel. The phenotype of the black squirrel is due to it’s dominant genetic alleles determining the hair pigments. As genes determining fur color are complex, to put it simply, black squirrels have special genes that make its jet black appearance and cannot be mixed with other squirrels.

As a result of their human interaction, there are many effects they have on the humans they live with. One of which, is the Mid-West culture surrounding the black squirrels. An example of this is the Kent University Black Squirrel statue. It’s a cultural icon of the university and has its own dense population of black squirrels that reside there. This isn’t the only place that has pride in its black squirrels. There are towns all over the U.S., most often Mid-Western towns, and even Canada that enjoy showing them off!

 

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