Fox Squirrel Mistaken for Monkey

It was reported on May 26, 2008 in a story by Jeremy Maready of  The Ledger, a Lakeland, Florida paper, that the Polk County Sheriff's Office received a call about a monkey sighting on Tom Costine Road. A woman said she spotted a large furry primate in a tree on Sunday.

Deputies from the Sheriff's office and the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission soon arrived to capture the creature, but it turned out not to be a monkey at all, but a large fox squirrel. The deputy, who is an avid hunter, said it was the biggest fox squirrel he had ever seen.

It seems on April 22 of that year 15 patas monkeys escaped from a place nearby called Safari Wild. There has been some progress in catching some of the monkeys, but patas monkeys can run up to 35 mph, so they have been very difficult to catch.

Fox squirrels are much less common than gray squirrels in Florida, and two of the three subspecies found in Florida are listed as endangered. One subspecies known as Sherman's fox squirrel, which is shown in the picture above, does have an odd monkey-like appearance. So you may imagine that there might be some confusion when a person sees one of these creatures.

To read The Ledger's complete original story of how a fox squirrel was mistaken for a monkey, go here: Fox Squirrel Mistaken for Monkey

To read more about monkey squirrels go here: Ten Questions: Florida Monkey Squirrels

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  1. Seems a little weird. I don't think the person got a very good look, eh?

  2. A very interesting story....we have had sightings of things around the area which I live that turned out not to be anything as spectacular as first thought!!

    It's amazing how when people no that something might be at large they see it around every

  3. I may not know a whole lot about wildlife but I think I could tell the difference between a squirrel and a monkey. I think they must not have gotten a very good look before they made the call

  4. Ratty, this little guy does not look like a monkey in any way, shape or form. They didn't get a good look. With all the squirrels I see and come in contact with now, I'm beginning to know and recognize them very well.

  5. Shows the accuracy of human observation. Makes one wonder about eyewitness testimony in sensitive court cases!

  6. In Florida we do have a large squirrel with a
    monkey like face. We call them "monkey squirrels" because of their faces and long tails, and they are way bigger than regular squirrels.

  7. We would see these monkey squirrels in Homasassa, Fl, in the early 90's. They're beautiful squirrels. The most common ones we saw were primarily black and white.

  8. It's obviously a squirrel! :)

  9. We're planning an article right here at Nature Center Magazine where we talk a bit more about this fascinating offshoot of fox squirrels. We plan to explain why they are sometimes mistaken for monkeys on first glance.

  10. hahahahaa...i wonder where this woman was from...the one who reported a primate in the tree!!
    to me anyway...the Fox Squirrel just looks like a LARGER than usual squirrel.
    maybe she heard all those stories about monkeys escaping from...uh, one of those theme St Pete or Tampa...and finally thought she spotted one!! haha!!


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