The black squirrel has spent the last century colonizing the District of Columbia—-even earning its own Adams Morgan hotspot—-and it’s made its rounds around the rest of the United States, too. Now, the black squirrel has popped up in England, and according to British tabloid the Daily Mail, it’s “left the grey squirrel population in fear.”
The black squirrel has done well in the District since its 1906 import from Canada. Despite its conspicuous coat, some scientists have hypothesized that the American black squirrel has survived through its dark fur’s superior solar retention. Cute.
But the Daily Mail has another explanation for the black squirrel’s newfound prominence in the UK: It cites a scientific study that claims the black squirrel is “testosterone-charged,” showing “higher levels of the male sex hormone testosterone—-making them more aggressive and more successful.”
Throughout, the Daily Mail‘s often-inflammatory tone turns this fluffy tale (get it!?) into a screed against the “aggressive” and “mutant” black squirrel—-and it ends up reading like strange racial satire. The piece details the grey squirrel’s history of “driving its red cousin into the remotest corners of the country,” implies anti-miscegenation fears in noting that “female greys appear to prefer them [black squirrels] as mates,” and describes the black squirrel’s survival success as a “rampage.” It doesn’t help that throughout, the black squirrels are referred to simply as “blacks.”