Why Is This Squirrel Purple?

Illustration for article titled Why Is This Squirrel Purple?

A couple in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, found a purple squirrel in their backyard. No one knows why it's purple. And it's really freaking purple.

Percy Emert and his wife, Connie, trap squirrels in their yard and release them in a different neighborhood to keep the animals from pilfering their bird feeders. The other day, a purple one showed up in a trap.

"I thought, 'Nobody's going to believe me," Emert said. "Even the inside of its ears were purple. It wasn't like it fell into something. It didn't look like that at all."


So what happened? There are theories circulating. Some are ridiculous, some are disgusting, and others are downright intriguing:

1. The squirrel fell into a a porta potty. It seems possible the disgusting blue liquid in a porta potty combined with gray squirrel fur might create purple hue. Emert did say the animals teeth were brown (gross). But how would it have escaped? Also: Everyone saw that episode of Breaking Bad, right?

2. Mr. Squirrel came in contact with fracking fluid. Fracking fluid often appears to be white, but it certainly seems possible one of the liquid's 750 chemical ingredients could have an unexpected effect after coming in contact with squirrel fur.

3. The animal fell in a vat of purple ink or paint. I could happen? That was the theory when another purple squirrel showed up in England in 2008.


4. Krish Pillai, a professor at Lock Haven University, said the color looks like Tyrian purple, which is created with an ancient dye extracted from sea snails. This one seems the most unlikely. Though the squirrel was spotted in a town called Jersey Shore, it is located nowhere near the ocean.

5. A Facebook commenter suggests a PETA protestor threw purple paint on the furry mammal.


In any case, we may never know because the Emerts RELEASED THE SQUIRREL. Luckily, he did leave behind a few tufts of fur for scientists to examine. And naturally, you can like the purple squirrel on its Facebook page. [Accuweather]

Image: The Purple Squirrel Facebook page


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Had to go look up fracking fluid and I still don't think I get it.