Black squirrel: where it lives in Italy, what it feeds on and characteristics of the species. Difference with red squirrel and gray squirrel (also known as American squirrel).
Theblack squirrelit is a species present in the Italian woods since the last century. Its introduction, at the taxonomic level, was confirmed only in 2017 when its identity was confirmed at the molecular level (by DNA analysis).
Until recently, it was thought that itblack squirrelwas a subspecies of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). It took several studies to understand that theblack squirrelit is a species unto itself.
Difference between species and subspecies
Not everyone knows the difference between species and subspecies, so, talk aboutblack squirrelsas a species in itself and no longer as a "subspecies" it can cause confusion.
The subspecies is none other than oneanimal populationwhich differs only for some features from its “typical” form and, moreover, crossing with the “typical form” can give fertile offspring.
Until recently it was thought that itblack squirrelwere onevariantof thered squirrel. The morphological features, in fact, are similar. The livery changes (typically black with white belly in the black squirrel!) As well as the geographical distribution and also the size (theblack squirrelis larger than the red squirrel). These typical characteristics of the black squirrel, until recently, were interpreted as variables of the speciesSciurus vulgaris (common squirrel). A genomic analysis was needed to understand that it isblack squirrelit is not genetically crossed with the red squirrel.
Well yes, it doesblack squirrelis an Italian squirrel. In the list of local squirrels, together withblack squirrel, also include:
- Sciurus vulgaris, red squirrel
- Marmota marmota, marmot
There is no shortage of alien species, like it American squirrel (gray squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis), similar to oursred squirrelbut bigger (weighs twice as much). The name "gray squirrel"Can be misleading, the color of squirrels can vary according to seasonal trends and there is no lack of natural variability. The gray squirrel, unlike the red squirrel, has no tufts of fur on its ears, nor whitish tail margins.
Like itgray squirrel, in our country there are other exotic areas that have invaded more or less extensive habitats, this is the case ofvariable squirrel(Collosciurus finlasyonii, present in Campania, Calabria, Basilicata, in the south of Piedmont and in the north of Liguria) andred bellied squirrel(Collosciurus erythraeus). Another squirrel reported both in Veneto and Lazio is the Siberian chipmunk (Eutamias sibiricus). The presence of these exotic squirrels is overshadowing native squirrels like the same black squirrel.
Black squirrel: where does it live?
Theblack squirrel(Sciurus meridionalis) is endemic to our woods, in particular it lives in the woods of Calabria, Basilicata and other regions of Southern Italy. It can be found on the Pollino or on the Sila.
The presence of the black squirrel and the smaller red squirrel is endangered by the more tenacious American squirrel (the aforementioned gray squirrel). These animals compete for the same resources, in nature, you know, the law of the strongest applies: the increased tonnage and the marked tenacity of thegray squirrelmake this species a threat to native squirrels.
The black squirrel prefers areas with pine forests (it feeds on pine seeds), it is among these trees that it can find good camouflage protection. This animal does not disdain oak and beech woods.
Sciurus meridionalis or southern squirrel
The black squirrel is known as the southern squirrel or black squirrel. Its distribution is separated in the main massifs of ASpromonte, Sila and Pollino. Thanks to reforestation of conifers, the populations of the Pollino have reunited with those of the Pollino area.