Biologists believe that most of the world’s wildlife remain undiscovered. In fact, in the year 2010, biologists said that there are still over 5 million plants and animals species waiting to be named and discovered. With this staggering number, it is undeniable that there are still a lot of wonders in the world that we have to see, discover, and experience!
With this in mind, it is very understandable why John Koprowski, a squirrel expert, was surprised to know that there are such things as a giant squirrel. Though he considers himself as a squirrel expert, he still found it hard to believe that the giant squirrel in front of his eyes, which is called as the Malabar giant squirrel, is indeed a squirrel.
According to John, he was on his trip to India back in the year 2006, when he first encountered the Malabar giant squirrel. Due to their size and length, the Malabar squirrels look more of a primate rather than a squirrel.
“These are giants!” The professor and associate director at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Arizona exclaimed, describing the 36-inches length of these giant squirrels.
The astounding size of the Malabar giant squirrel is not their only attribute that fascinated the professor. The colorful fur of the Malabar giant squirrels that can range from black, orange, brown, purple, and maroon makes their species a cut above the rest. This is because purples and maroons are not typical colors of a mammal species.
“In the shaded understory of a dense forest, the patchy colors and dark hues are a great adaptation to avoiding detection,” Professor John explained, pointing out the purpose of the gorgeous furs of the giant squirrel. “But when you see these in the sunlight, they show their ‘true colors’ and beautiful pelage [fur]
Found mainly in the forests of South, Central, and East India the Malabar giant squirrels sport round ears that resemble the ears of Pandas. They also have big paws and strong claws that help them climb trees with ease. Aside from climbing trees, Malabar giant squirrels also enjoy leaping in the air, in fact, they can leap more than 20 feet long.
Living inside a forest, the Malabar giant squirrels eat fruits, flowers, nuts, and tree bark as a part of their natural diet. But sometimes, there are subsepcies of Malabar giant squirrels who can also eat insects and bird eggs, making them omnivorous.
Since the Malabar giant squirrels are shy and quiet giants, it is very rare to see them in the wild. But if you are really insistent on seeing one, you might as well climb a tree, keep still, and wait for one to appear. re glimpse.
“They are pretty shy,” Pizza Ka Yee Chow, a research fellow at the Hokkaido University shared. “One of my friends who lives in India shared with me that the best way to see these giant squirrels is to climb up on a tree, stay very quiet and wait for them to emerge from their [nest].”
Fortunately, these gentle and gorgeous giants are not in danger of extinction… yet. However, this does not discredit the fact that their population is declining in number. Professor John explained that this is due to deforestation.
“The real threat is the slow loss and degradation of forested habitats as humans move in and as climate change impacts higher elevation areas,” The professor explained. “The good news is that they have a wide distribution and seem to tolerate human presence and even some modest level of low-density housing.”
The professor is hoping that we will be able to preserve their home and boost their population growth for the benefit of the next generations.
“They’re part of a group of squirrels that is pretty ancient,” Professor John said. “They’re a unique evolutionary group that’s been here a long time, which is a good thing.”
Is it also the first time that you have heard of the Malabar giant squirrels? What wonderful rare animals do you know? SHARE your thoughts under the comment section!