A black squirrel visited Marty Corey in Poland on Thursday morning. Marty Corey photo

POLAND — Marty Corey has seen her share of squirrels over the years, but the creature who came sniffing around her bird feeders Wednesday was a first.

“I looked out in my entryway to check food in the feeders I still have out,” Corey said, “and was honestly shocked to see it.”

The young squirrel, noshing on a morsel of food when Corey snapped a photo, is all black, from the top of its head to the tip of its tail. It was the first time Corey had ever seen such a critter.

“He’s a cute little bugger and most noticeable,” Corey said.

According to Jennifer Marchigiani, owner and operator of Misfits Rehab in Auburn, the squirrel squatting in Corey’s Saunders Road neighborhood is a red squirrel that just happens to be black.

“They are pretty rare,” Marchigiani said, examining the the animal in Corey’s photo. “We see black gray squirrels, too. Both are pretty rare.”

The squirrel, Marchigiani said, is the opposite of an albino.

Drew Desjardins, of Mr. Drew and His Animals, Too, in Lewiston concurred with that assessment. The squirrel Corey spotted, he said, is melanistic, or all black.

“It’s rare,” he said, “but it does occur.”

According to one study, by Cambridge University, in North America, black squirrels are uncommon, with one estimate putting them at a rate of one in every 10,000.

According to the study findings, the black squirrel may be the product of interspecies breeding between the common gray squirrel and the fox squirrel.

So, when Corey spotted the unlikely squirrel Wednesday, she was faced with a choice. Haul if off into the wilderness somewhere to avoid the kinds of damage squirrels can cause, or keep it around as a kind of neighborhood novelty.

It was looking like it would become a nonissue — when Corey looked out into her yard early Thursday afternoon, there was no sign of the squirrel she had taken to calling “Blackie.”

Then, even as she was discussing the animal with a reporter, the black squirrel reappeared as though it knew it was the topic of conversation.

“I just heard scratching at my window looking out into the entryway,” Corey said, “and little Blackie is back! But now I am faced with a dilemma. I relocate red squirrels but really would kind of like to keep him around. I could be nice and not make her have to rummage for food.”

Later Thursday afternoon, Blackie scampered up an oak tree, discovered another red squirrel up in the branches, and began grooming the animal. At that point, Corey was able to determine that Blackie is, in fact, a female.

At that phase of things, the likelihood that Corey would shoo Blackie from the property was growing more remote by the minute.

“She really is so striking,” Corey said in awe.

A black squirrel visited Marty Corey in Poland on Thursday morning. Marty Corey photo

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