I am not usually home in time to see the One Show but recently caught an episode where they were talking about the black squirrel. Not being sure whether this was a very early April fool or some other practical joke, I decided to google and find out whether these creatures really did exist. Apparently they do and are mostly likely to be found in and around East Anglia.
The black squirrel population is estimated to be 25,000 – tiny when you compare it with the 2 million grey squirrels to be found in the UK – and the first sighting in the wild was in 1912 on the outskirts of Letchworth in Hertfordshire. This was due to a dozen black squirrels having escaped from Woburn zoo in the 1880’s. And now scientists are very keen to find out how far they have spread in the past 100 years.
And this is where we can all join in.
Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University have called on the public to report sightings on “The Black Squirrel Project” website.
With half term approaching, it would seem like an ideal time to get out and about in search of the elusive black squirrel. The website has been set up so that you can submit sightings of grey, black or red squirrels and after you have entered the postcode and details of your location, a pinpoint appears on the map on the home page. It seems as though people have already been busy recording recent sightings, as the map already shows the black squirrel has been seen as far afield as Wales, South West England and the North East.
Even if you don’t find any squirrels on your walk, at least you will have blown the cobwebs away with all the fresh air. And when you get back indoors, the website is still fun for the kids to look and see where other people have seen the squirrels and to learn about where they came from.
The website can be found at www.blacksquirrelproject.org/