What first comes to mind when you hear the word squirrel? Probably an innocent animal.
Not just innocent but this animal is also very common. If you look in your backyard right now, you’ll probably find one.
But if you venture into the forests of India, you might just find a squirrel who will take your breath away.
Meet the Malabar giant squirrel:
Some people went as far as to say they didn’t think this particular species actually existed because of the rarity of their colors. Otherwise known as the Malabar giant squirrel, Ratufa indica, are very much real — and quite adorable.
They are, also known as Shekru, are native to India. Their unique fur can be found in different shades like brown and orange, and maroon and purple colors are rarely found in mammals.
You might think that their conspicuous colors would be a drawback by making them stand out to predators, but in fact, it actually helps them survive.
“In the shaded understory of a dense forest, the patchy colors and dark hues are a great adaptation to avoiding detection,” squirrel expert John Koprowski told The Dodo.
“But when you see these in the sunlight, they show their ‘true colors’ and beautiful pelage.”
Not only are they among the most colorful squirrels in the world, but they’re also some of the largest.
For those more used to seeing the American grey squirrel or its far cuter cousin the Europen red, the Malabar is bound to come as a shock. For starters, as the name suggests, these cool animals are huge. Stretching as long as 3 feet – double the size of their standard gray relatives. They are much harder to miss than our own scurrilous buddies. Admittedly though, the brilliantly blue bushy tail accounts for much of the Malabar’s length. And also they’re capable of jumping up to 20 feet in the air between trees.
The Malabar isn’t too fussy about its diet and will eat what’s available up there in the treetops. Using their huge, bushy tails to swing around, they’ll search for flowers, bark, seeds, insects, and even bird eggs if there are any freely available. Just watch out for mother eagle, though!
While they’re amazing to look at, it might be a challenge to actually find one in the wild. They live in the forests of India, hopping from tree to tree and rarely touching the ground. They’re also known to be quite shy.
These four-pound tree dwellers, native to India, have an unusual method for storing their food that’s unlike any other squirrel.
Their population is doing well, currently listed on the IUCN Red List as “least concern,” although deforestation could threaten them if unchecked.
“They have a wide distribution and seem to tolerate human presence and even some modest level of low-density housing,” he told The Dodo.
“They’re part of a group of squirrels that is pretty ancient. They’re a unique evolutionary group that’s been here a long time, which is a good thing.”
Wow, what a beautiful animal! We had no idea squirrels could be this stunning. If you love these giant squirrels, do not forget to share this story with your friends and family members.