(Photo: Facebook/Michelle Emert Carithers)
A couple has found a most unusual creature in their traps to keep squirrels away: a extremely rare purple squirrel.
Percy and Connie Emert keep several traps in their yard to keep squirrels away from bird feeders; the traps are cage-like and the confined squirrels are then released into the woods.
However, Percy told reporters his wife caught a very elusive creature in one of the traps. "I came home one day, recently, and my wife said, 'You're not going to believe it, but I saw a purple squirrel in the yard. So I put a trap out a trap with a couple of peanuts inside."
When the squirrel made another appearance, it was caught in the cage. "I thought, 'Nobody's going to believe me. Even the inside of its ears were purple. It wasn't like it fell into something. It didn't look like that at all.'"
Percy called a state game warden to investigate and gave him samples of the squirrel's fur. Henry Kacprzyk of the Pittsburgh Zoo told the Associated Press, "But the purple coloration, from the purple I saw…it looked to me like this animal had come in contact with something with its fur and dyed its fur."
"I've got to think one of the suggestions might be it fell in a Porta John that had blue coloration. I have no idea why…but I don't think it was born that way. There are definitely birds that have coloration like this…but not mammals. Mammals don't normally uptake color, ingest something it goes through and then it come out through their fur," Kacprzyk added.
The squirrel has become known internationally, with British papers picking up the story. Michelle Emert Carithers has posted images of the squirrel taken by her father, and people are offering suggestions as to how the squirrel became purple. One user, Rosemary Glantz, posited the theory that the squirrel drank TruBlu from a golf course.