Purple Squirrel Puzzling People in Pennsylvania Gets Released Back Into the Wild

After puzzling people Pennsylvania for a few days, the purple squirrel has been released back into the wilderness. The strange creature, and internet celebrity, was captured last week by Percy and Connie Elmert.

Connie said:

“I kept telling my husband I saw a purple one out in the yard. ‘Oh sure you did’ he kept telling me. Well, he checked the trap around noon on Sunday and sure enough, there it was.”

Percy and Connie kept the purple squirrel for a few days so other people could come and observe the peculiar critter. The couple also set up a Twitter and Facebook page. But after a few days of living with an internet celebrity, the Pennsylvania couple decided it was time to let the purple squirrel return to the wild.

The Huffington Post reports that this isn’t the only purple squirrel on record. A similar critter was found in 2008 in England.

Chris Packham, a wildlife expert, said at the time:

“I have never seen anything like it before. Squirrels will chew anything even if it’s obviously inedible. It is possible he has been chewing on a purple ink cartridge and then groomed that coloring into his fur.”

But the Pennsylvania purple squirrel’s coloring problem may not have been the result of an errant ink cartridge. Krish Pillai, a professor at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, believes that the coloring may have been caused bromide laced frack water. Pillai told AccuWeather:

“This is not good at all. That color looks very much like Tyrian purple. It is a natural organobromide compound seen in molluscs and rarely found in land animals. The squirrel has too much bromide in its system possibly from all the bromide laced frack water it’s been drinking. I would raise the alarm. This could mean bladder cancer for humans down the road.”

Do you think the purple squirrel ate some ink? Or is this a sign of something worse?

Here are some more photos of the purple squirrel.

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