There exists a kind of squirrel with such extraordinary size and vibrancy that they seem like they belong in a storybook.
Known as the Malabar giant squirrel, they can reach a length of up to 36 inches. John Koprowski, an expert in squirrels, is a professor and associate director at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona. During his visit to India in 2006, he came across these creatures and initially thought they were more similar to primates than squirrels.
“Wow, these are giants!” exclaimed Koprowski to The Dodo.
The Malabar giant squirrels are recognized for more than just their size. Their fur is also spectacular and captivating, with a mix of blacks, oranges, and browns, as well as vibrant purple and maroon patches.
While their fur is visually appealing, it also provides some protection.
“In the shaded understory of a dense forest, the dark hues and patchy colors are an excellent adaptation to avoiding detection,” said Koprowski. “However, when in the sunlight, they display their true colors and beautiful pelage [fur].”
It’s not common to see the giant Malabar squirrels. They tend to stay in the highest branches of the forests located in southern and eastern India.
Pizza Ka Yee Chow, a research fellow at Hokkaido University, is an expert on squirrels. “They’re quite timid,” he said to The Dodo. “A friend of mine who lives in India told me the best way to see these giant squirrels is to climb a tree, stay very quiet, and wait for them to come out of their nest.”
According to Wikipedia, their diet consists of “fruit, flowers, nuts, and tree bark. Some subspecies are omnivorous, also feeding on insects and bird eggs.”
The Malabar giant squirrels are not currently facing a risk of extinction, but their shy and elusive nature requires conservation measures. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) considers them to be under the “least concern” category.
However, they are still vulnerable and require protection.
“The major threat to these squirrels is the gradual loss and damage of their forest habitats due to human encroachment and climate change that impacts higher elevation areas,” Koprowski explained. “Nevertheless, there is good news that the squirrels have a vast distribution and can tolerate human activity, including modest levels of low-density housing.”
“They are a remarkable species,” Koprowski said. “They are part of a lineage of squirrels that is quite ancient. They are an evolutionary group that has been around for a long time, and that’s a good thing.”
Their beauty is undeniable, isn’t it?
Rewriter Source: https://blog.therainforestsite.greatergood.com/gfl-giant-multicolored-squirrels/