Calabrian black squirrel

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Calabrian black squirrel
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Genus: Sciurus
Species: S. meridionalis
Binomial name
Sciurus meridionaliss
Lucifero, 1907
Sciurus meridionalis range Map.jpeg
Approximate distribution in red
  • Sciurus vulgaris meridionaliss (Lucifero, 1907)
  • Sciurus vulgaris silanus Heinrich, 1934

The Calabrian black squirrel (Sciurus meridionalis) is a species of tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus, endemic to the forests of the regions of Calabria and Basilicata, in the south of the Italian Peninsula. It has long been considered a subspecies of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), but studies published in 2009–2017 revealed that it is unique in both genetics and appearance, leading to its recognition as a distinct species.[1][2]

The Calabrian black squirrel is an arboreal animal that generally resembles the red squirrel in its behavior. Unlike the highly variable red squirrel, the Calabrian black squirrel is monomorphic (not variable in appearance), being very dark brown to blackish with contrasting white underparts. Compared to red squirrels of northern Italy, the Calabrian black squirrel is also significatly larger, weighing 280–530 g (10–18.5 oz) or on average about 35% more.[2]

The Calabrian black squirrel lives in mixed forests in highlands, and its nests are often placed in pine or oak trees. It mostly occurs near black pine, as the seeds are an important food source.[3] The northern limit of its range has been northern Pollino, but it is slowly spreading north to the Lucan Apennines (Basilicata region). Its northernmost range limit and the southernmost Italian red squirrel are separated by a gap of more than 100 km (60 mi). The Calabrian black squirrel has a stable population, but its small range means that it likely qualifies for near threatened or perhaps vulnerable. The most serious threat is possibly the Finlayson's squirrel, which has been introduced near its range.[2]


  1. ^ Grill, A.; Amori, G.; Aloise, G.; Lisi, I.; Tosi, G.; Wauters, L.A.; Randi, E. (2009). "Molecular phylogeography of European Sciurus vulgaris: refuge within refugia". Mol. Ecol. 18 (12): 2687–2699. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04215.x.
  2. ^ a b c Wauters, Lucas A.; Giovanni Amori; Gaetano Aloise; Spartaco Gippoliti; Paolo Agnelli; Andrea Galimberti; Maurizio Casiraghi; Damiano Preatoni; Adriano Martinoli (2017). "New endemic mammal species for Europe: Sciurus meridionalis (Rodentia, Sciuridae)". Hystrix. 28 (1): 1–28. doi:10.4404/hystrix-28.1-12015.
  3. ^ Cagnin, Mara; Gaetano Aloise; Fabiola Fiore; Vincenzo Oriolo; Luc A. Wauters; Wauters, L.A.; Randi, E. (2000). "Habitat use and population density of the red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris meridionalis, in the Sila Grande mountain range (Calabria, South Italy)". Italian Journal of Zoology. 67 (1): 81–87.