No Explanation for Pennsylvania's Purple Squirrel

February 14, 2012; 4:30 PM
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Connie and Percy Emert took all the photos of the squirrel, and posted on them <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Shellbug526#!/Shellbug526">Facebook</a>.

A Pennsylvania couple trapped, of all things, a purple squirrel on Sunday. Percy and Connie Emert, of Jersey Shore, Pa. caught the unusual animal when trying to keep birds safe from the rodents.

"We have bird feeders out in our yard, and the squirrels are constantly into them," said Jersey Shore resident Connie Emert. "My husband traps them and then sets them free elsewhere so they don't get into your bird feeders."

Emert said she had spotted a purple squirrel on her property but no one believed her.

"I kept telling my husband I saw a purple one out in the yard. 'Oh sure you did' he kept telling me," said Emert. "Well, he checked the trap around noon on Sunday and sure enough, there it was."

No one knows why the squirrel is purple.

"The squirrel's been eating peanuts. That's what we used in the trap," she continued.

The Emerts do not know why the squirrel is purple.

"We have no idea whatsoever. It's really purple. People think we dyed it, but honestly, we just found it and it was purple."

Move over Phil, there's a new rodent in town.

"We put him in an extra big cage so he has room to run around, and we'll release him soon. In the meantime, all the neighbors have been by to see him. No one can believe we have a purple squirrel!"

The Emerts released the squirrel back into the wild on Tuesday. Right now, no one knows where the animal is.

"We're not going to do a manhunt to look for the purple squirrel," Harold Cole, wildlife conservation officer for the Pa. Game Commission said.

Some AccuWeather.com employees have their own theories. Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity said, "The squirrel could have been looking for somewhere warm and fallen into a port-a-potty or something similar."

AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski has a different idea. "Squirrels get into all kinds of stuff. He could have gotten into some purple ink or purple paint at some point."

Purple ink was the theory when people saw a purple squirrel called Pete in the U.K. in 2008. There were no theories when another purple squirrel was spotted in 1997.

A different purple squirrel was sighted in Minnesota in 1997. Photo submitted by Facebook fan Maren Nelsen Beckman.

John Griffin, Director of Humane Wildlife Services for the Humane Society, said "It might be possible that there was some introduction of a product into the nesting material that imparted this color to the fur, or accidental immersion/contact with a dying or coloring compound during (its) lifetime." He also said "The color (of the squirrel) does not appear to be even which would make me think that it is likely to be the natural color of the fur."

Krish Pillai, a professor at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, commented that "This is not good at all. That color looks very much like Tyrian purple. It is a natural organobromide compound seen in molluscs and rarely found in land animals. The squirrel (possibly) has too much bromide in its system."

Jeff Moore, another Facebook commenter, suggested that "Someone from PETA threw paint on it."

Ruth Dixon, said that she had a rabbit with purple fur. "I think it's a genetic foul-up. The rabbit had other problems worse than his color."

Local squirrel enthusiast Erik Stewart said, "If it has white hair on it at all, it's probably not dyed. I've had multiple squirrels as pets, though, and I've certainly never seen a purple one. I've seen dark red, light red, gray and brown, but never purple. Also, I've tried to dye my dog before, and trust me it didn't look like this. Though, I've only seen a picture, so your guess is as good as mine."

"Like" the purple squirrel on Facebook or follow it on Twitter.


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