Posted by: Loren Coleman on April 26th, 2008
As fate would have it, I had a recent encounter of the black squirrel kind that set me to thinking about the origins of their pocketed appearances around the continent. Black squirrels in Harvard Square and at Kent State may be linked in more ways than one. Black squirrels are allegedly indigenous to the northeastern areas of North America, but human hands have helped.
On Thursday morning, April 24, 2008, while in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I observed a black squirrel on Saville Street. (Quite by chance, I was visiting with the Likis family, whose heritage is Greek, and the word “squirrel” has its origins in the Greek word for “shadow tail.”)
I was soon to discover that black squirrels are today frequently seen around Cambridge, and reports indicate they literally “abound in Harvard Square.”
When I lived in Cambridge, in the latter part of the 1970s, I didn’t notice black squirrels there. They appear to be a recent addition to the local fauna.
Intriguingly, back at the International Cryptozoology Museum, I quickly discovered a YouTube video that was recorded on December 13, 2006, at Fresh Pond Reservation, Cambridge, Massachusetts, of a black squirrel. The quality of the video is so poor, if this was a Bigfoot, everyone would call this a Blobsquatch. Perhaps it should be labeled “Blobquirrel”? Is this really a “black squirrel” or only someone’s projected sense of melanistic reality on a blacklighted rodent? Only further exploration of this region will result in more proof for Fresh Pond’s black squirrels, we must assume.
But wait…more evidence.
It appears also from near the Fresh Pond, Cambridge, area is another black squirrel video of much clearer definition, showing that, indeed, melanistic squirrels may be captured on digital cameras with some frequency if proper expedition standards are maintained.
Formerly rare in the Cambridge area, this color phrase of squirrels seems to be on the increase.
Like most black squirrels found around North American university campuses, I would speculate that the Cambridge-Fresh Pond-Harvard population was introduced.
The Annual Black Squirrel Festival at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio, began after an increase of the animals there due to the importing of Canadian blacks to that Ohio campus. In February 1961, Larry Wooddell, the superintendent of KSU’s™ 500 acres, and Biff Staples, a Davey Tree expert, ventured to Ontario, Canada, to obtain 10 cages with black squirrels. Both men worked with the Canadian Wildlife Service and American and Canadian Customs for permission to move the squirrels.
KSU’s 26th Annual Black Squirrel Festival took place on Friday, September 7, 2008, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Risman Plaza in front of the Kent Student Center. It is a yearly event, nowadays.
To celebrate the black squirrels from Victoria Park, Ontario, with a nod to their trip to Ohio, there’s even a music video filled with delightful black squirrel footage (see below) and a quiz to test your black squirrel IQ. Enjoy.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.