A unique, fascinating creature has been turning heads in Northeast Ohio recently: an animal that appears to be a cross between a squirrel and a skunk.
The animal, dubbed a “squnk,” has the body of a squirrel but the dark black fur and white-tipped tail of a skunk:
There have been several sightings of the unique creature in Ohio recently and photos have gone viral on social media. Some have speculated that the “squnk” might actually be a hybrid of the two animals.
That is not the case: it is impossible for squirrels and skunks to mate, as they are too genetically different, according to WTRF.
This “squnk,” it turns out, is actually a black squirrel. While it doesn’t have any skunk DNA, it is still quite a rare sight. Black squirrels are the result of breeding between eastern gray squirrels and fox squirrels: the animal seen here is actually an eastern gray squirrel who inherited a gene variant resulting in a darker coloration, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
Black squirrels are rare, making up only one in every 10,000 squirrels. Their dark coat gives them a thermal advantage over normal gray squirrels, helping them to keep warm in the winter and in colder regions.
Black squirrels are the unofficial mascot of Kent State University: in 1961, 10 black squirrels were released on campus, and they have become an iconic staple of the university ever since.
So if you’re in Ohio and come across a “squnk,” rest assured it’s only a black squirrel with a little skunk-like fur on its tail — you’re not in danger of getting sprayed.
Wow, what a striking creature! It might not actually be a squirrel-skunk hybrid but still a unique animal to come across ❤️
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