A purple squirrel captured in central Pennsylvania has baffled the couple who caught it – and now photos of the squirrel have gone online, sparking nationwide interest.
Jersey Shore resident Percy Emert says he and his wife, Connie, caught the purple squirrel Sunday in a trap with peanuts. He says even the insides of its ears are the same color.
The couple say they set the animal free on Tuesday. They say a state game warden later took samples of fur left in its cage and trimmed from its tail.
Henry Kacprzyk, curator at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, tells CBS affiliate KDKA that he’s seen albino and black squirrels but never a purple one. He says some animals can take on the color of the food they eat, such as flamingos which are pink because of their diet of shrimp. However, in this case, he believes the squirrel must have gotten in contact with some sort of dye.
In 2008, The Telegraph newspaper reported on a squirrel of the same color near a school in the United Kingdom. People theorized that the animal got into printer cartridges, KDKA reports.
The Pennsylvania squirrel has a Facebook page, where someone from Minnesota posted a photograph of one they found in their yard.