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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Rare squirrel is doorstep visitor
Black squirrel
The black squirrel is a form of the grey variety
A rare black squirrel has become a regular visitor to a suburban garden.

Carol Eade said she first spotted the squirrel in her garden at Stevenage, Hertfordshire, on Saturday.

Conservationists say the animal - a melanistic form of the grey variety - is unusual but at least one cluster of them is known in Cambridgeshire.

Mrs Eade said when she found the squirrel sitting on her step when she opened her door on Saturday morning she thought it was a pet.

"I was so surprised - I had never heard of black squirrels and it was so tame, I thought it must have belonged to someone.

"I gave it some nuts and went out - the nuts disappeared and the squirrel was back on Sunday," she said.

Albino squirrels

"What intrigues me is whether it is a lone black squirrel or whether there are others around."

Mrs Eade's daughter, photographer Sarah Patchett, of North Walsham in Norfolk, took the pictures of the squirrel earlier this week .

Forestry Commission chief wildlife ranger for East Anglia, Trevor Banham, who confirmed from the pictures that the squirrel was a grey one, said though black squirrels were known, a close-up photograph was unusual.

Squirrel specialist Brenda Mayle, of Forest Research, said she had not seen a black squirrel in England in her 25 years working in the field.

But they are thought to be more common than albino squirrels.

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