Yes, that’s really a squirrel and its really, severely, purple. No one seems to know why, could be a hoax, or something else. Put on your skeptic hats and offer some ideas.
(Link) — “I kept telling my husband I saw a purple one out in the yard. ‘Oh sure you did’ he kept telling me,” said Emert. “Well, he checked the trap around noon on Sunday and sure enough, there it was.” AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski has a different idea. “Squirrels get into all kinds of stuff. He could have gotten into some purple ink or purple paint at some point.”
Purple ink was the theory when people saw a purple squirrel called Pete in the U.K. in 2008. There were no theories when another purple squirrel was spotted in 1997. John Griffin, Director of Humane Wildlife Services for the Humane Society, said “It might be possible that there was some introduction of a product into the nesting material that imparted this color to the fur, or accidental immersion/contact with a dying or coloring compound during (its) lifetime.” He also said “The color (of the squirrel) does not appear to be even which would make me think that it is likely to be the natural color of the fur.”
I asked a friend of mine who is a cosmotologist and specializes in hair color about his. She said, at least in people, ink or paint or purple dye by itself wouldn’t turn darkish squirrely hair that shade of purple. Brown hair would need to have, and I quote, “the shit bleached out of it first” and then the purple dye applied (It might work with dye alone for people with very light blonde hair, she added). No idea if that applies to rodentia, but it seems reasonable considering we’re both mammals.
I have an inkling of an idea how that might have happened. If I had to guess, I’d go with kids trapping the critter and doing exactly that. Second guess would a business like a hair salon or cleaning company nearby, or better yet think of the most common products in a dumpster that could cause this: where the animal got into a product containing bleach followed by ink, maybe some kind of printer cartridge or paint?