INDIAN GIANT SQUIRREL/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus



          picture taken by: Bilkis Seikh
DESCRIPTION: There are four species of giant squirrels in South and South–east Asia, of which three are found in India. Thecommon species in India is the Indian or the Malabar Giant Squirrel, which is anendemic squirrel of varying bright pelages. The back is a mixture of maroon and black and the underparts are cream or buff. R.i. indica is completely maroon on its back and ears with a pale cream venter, pale face and pale tail tip. R.i. dealbata is a very pale brown with an almost all-white or cream tail. The extent of white on the tail varies in different forms as it intergrades southwards. R.i. maxima is similar to R.i. indica except that it has a black saddle across its shoulders, the maroon on the dorsal side is darker, and the tail is black and brown with no pale tip. R.i. centralis has red ear tufts instead of maroon, this colour continuing through the back, sides and hind legs. It has black on the forelimbs and shoulders, and the tail is also black with a pale tip.
BEHAVIOUR: These forest canopy-dwellers rarely come down to the forest floor. They build multiple globe-shaped nests, and use some for sleeping and at least one as a nursery. They make shrill sounds and their high-pitched alarm calls rival those of monkeys, especially when they mob predatory birds. They are also known to take shelter inside their nests in the middle of the day as an anti-predator strategy. They often sleep draped over a branch, with their tails falling over.
DISTRIBUTION: They are distributed in discontinuous patches in southern and central India. R.i. dealbata has been reported from the Dangs; R.i. centralis from eastern and central India . R.i. indica in the northern and central Western Ghats up to the Palakkad Gap in and R.i. maxima in the southern Western Ghats south of the Palakkad gap.
HABITAT: It inhabits high canopy in dry and moist deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen forests and dry scrub. Not found in plantations unless forest fragments are present in them.

Size: 35–51 cm,

Wt: 2 kg

IUCN Status: Near Threatened


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