About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Have you ever seen a black chipmunk?

The black squirrel, a melanistic subgroup of the common gray squirrel, is found all over mid-Michigan, but have you ever seen black chipmunk?

The following is a video of a melanistic Eastern Chipmunk that showed up at one of the local nature trails in Canada. 

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JosephAlsarraf said...

Oh cool, I have never seen either of them, why are they black? : )

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

Melanism is the development of a lot of dark-colored pigment in the skin and is the opposite of albinism (an all white skin and coat with red eyes).

The color change may be how some animals adapt to survive. Dark individuals can absorb more heat in cold areas and the color may act as camouflage. Typically adaptive melanism is heritable: A dominant gene is responsible for the excessive amount of melanin.

Adaptive melanism has been shown to occur in a variety of animals, including squirrels, cats and dogs. It can lead to the creation of morphs- in other words, the occurrence of more than one color of the species. In mid-Michigan you can see the Eastern Grey Squirrels in both the black and grey morph.

Tori said...

very cute

Kate/Massachusetts said...

I've never seen a black chipmunk, and, if I did, I would probably think it was a mutant rat! lol My son goes to Westfield State University here in Massachusetts. Westfield has a big park across from the university that has black squirrels in it that were a gift from someone in Michigan many decades ago when the park was started. Freshmen are told that the black squirrels like to chase freshmen but I think that is just a joke!

Anonymous said...

I sure have! we've had 4 of them thus far on our property in NE Michigan and the first to ever be documented in the state journal of record- the last one survived 2.5 yrs, but was killed by a feral cat last fall :(
you can view various images of them here:

WisconsinWildMan said...

That's pretty cool. We had a white squirrel that hung around the college apartments when I was in school.