We Can’t Believe These Giant, Colorful Squirrels Are Real
The Malabar giant squirrel, also known as the Indian giant squirrel, is a two- to three-toned squirrel native to India. Their beautiful colors would seem to make them more vulnerable to predators, but it’s just the opposite. Their colors help them blend into their environment in the upper canopy of the forests of India.
While commonly seen eastern grey squirrels measure less than two feet from head to tail, Malabar giant squirrels measure over three feet, dwarfing their cousins by comparison. Instead of foraging on the ground, these squirrels spend their time foraging in the upper canopy of the forest. Despite their large size, these giant squirrels are hard to spot.
The variety of colors on the Malabar giant squirrel aren’t for just beauty. The colors and patterns help them use the light and shade in the canopy to hide from predators, mainly birds of prey and leopards. These squirrels come in a colorful mix of black, brown, orange, cream, maroon, and purple. Pretty!
In order to keep their predators guessing, Indian giant squirrels make several globe-shaped nests. They have at least one for sleeping and a separate one for a nursery. Another measure they take for safety is to build these nests at the end of thinner branches to make it more difficult for large birds and leopards to reach. When they are in immediate danger, they either leap from tree to tree or lay flat on a branch to avoid detection.
A Malabar giant squirrel is mostly a solitary creature whose diet consists of fruit, flowers, nuts and tree bark. They play an essential role in shaping the ecosystem in their habitat by distributing seeds all around the forest. This helps keep the forests of India thriving, which helps all of the animals who live there.
The Indian giant squirrel population is not listed as endangered or threatened, as of now, because of its wide distribution and current numbers. Their population is declining; however, due to climate change and forest destruction, as humans move into the area.
Researchers are keeping an eye on these beautiful animals to ensure they’ll be around for a long time to come.
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