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Purple squirrel in Pa. remains a mystery

JERSEY SHORE, Pa. - A purple squirrel captured in central Pennsylvania has baffled the couple who caught it - and now photos of the squirrel have gone online, sparking nationwide interest.

Jersey Shore resident Percy Emert says he and his wife, Connie, caught the purple squirrel Sunday in a trap with peanuts. He says even the insides of its ears were purple.

Photos of the purple squirrel ended up online.

The couple say they released the squirrel Tuesday. They say a state game warden later took samples of purple fur left in its cage and trimmed from its tail.

Henry Kacprzyk, curator at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, tells CBS affiliate KDKA that he's seen albino and black squirrels but never a purple one. He says some animals can take on the color of the food they eat, such as flamingos which are pink because of their diet of shrimp. However, in this case, he believes the squirrel must have gotten in contact with some sort of dye.

In 2008, The Telegraph newspaper reported on a purple squirrel near a school in the United Kingdom. People theorized that squirrel got into printer cartridges, KDKA reports.

The Pennsylvania squirrel has a Facebook page, where someone from Minnesota posted a photograph of a purple squirrel she says she found in her yard.