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Last Updated: Saturday October 22 2005 15:22 GMT

Rare squirrel snapped in garden

Black squirrel
The black squirrel is a form of the grey variety
A rare black squirrel has been photographed visiting a garden in Stevenage in Hertfordshire.

Carol Eade said she spotted the unusual visitor on her step, fed him some nuts and he has since become a regular.

Experts say the creature is a sort of grey squirrel with lots of melanin in its skin. The amount of melanin you have decides what colour you are.

Although black squirrels are unusual, they are not as rare as albinos, which have no melanin and are white.

Mrs Eade said when she found the squirrel sitting on her step 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.

Forestry Commission chief wildlife ranger for East Anglia, Trevor Banham, said that although black squirrels are not unheard of, it is rare to get a close-up photograph of one.

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