Squirrels on steroids….

I hope you are a fan of squirrels, if you are not then you are going to be after knowing this giant on the trees. The name is Indian Giant Squirrel or Malabar Giant squirrel and it leaves its many other family species dormice in comparison.

Let’s go first into all the Scientific classification stuff…..

Kingdom: Animalia

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Malabar Giant Squirrel at Periyar Tiger Reserve

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Rodentia

Family: Sciuridae

Genus: Ratufa

Scientific Name: Ratufa indica

Let’s Start..

The Indian Giant Squirrel is endemic to India and found in deciduous and moist evergreen forests of Peninsular India. From being mostly found in Western Ghats, it goes up to Satpura range of Madhya Pradesh. They are very secretive and shy and like to spend most of their time on tree canopy only. They choose tall trees with many branches for building their nests. The nests are of large and somewhat globe shaped made of twigs and leaves. Sometimes they also use trees holes as their shelter.
They weight around 1.5-2 kg and head-body length of adults can be of 26-46 cm. The tail length alone can be of 60cm(2 ft).  Holy Moly!!!   They have dorsal coloration that varies from deep red to brown. The undersides have white fur and there is white spot found between the ears. Unlike most of the college students it is diurnal i.e, active during the day and sleeps at night.   No offense!!!
The number of young ranges from one to two, and on the average, Indian Giant Squirrels has a gestation period of 31 days. The maximum a captive Indian giant squirrel had lived was for 20 years, life expectancy in the wild is much shorter.
They are omnivorous, feeding on fruits, flowers, nuts, barks, bird’s eggs and insects. Indian giant squirrels are hunted by various birds of prey like the black eagle, crested serpent eagle, crested hawk eagle, brown fish owl, even the Indian leopard. Sounds like too much handle….. That is why they make their homes on thin branches which can support up to their weight only.

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Spotted a IGS in morning at Periyar Tiger Reserve

Still not a fan??  Get ready to be amazed by these mind-blowing facts:-

  1. They usually live alone and come in pairs during mating periods. Alone, not Lonely….
  2. The Giant Squirrel’s large tail is used as a counterweight, to help them keep their balance.  Yes, that 2 ft long one!!!
  3. They are categorized into Least Concern category  by IUCN Red List. But they were in Near Threatened list years ago.
  4. A single squirrel can build several nests, out of which one is used for nursery for young ones and others for rest and sleep. I guess they don’t like sharing room with kids…     Nice Parenting???
  5. Whenever it senses danger they press themselves up against a branch and freezes. Trying to camouflage??
  6. They can jump up to 6 metres (20 feet) from tree to tree.   More like flying…
  7. They disperses the seeds of the plants they consume when they defecate.   Shit have ecological importance…
  8. Males compete for mating rights with one female, with the winner getting the first go at copulation. He prevents his competition to engage with the female for at least a few hours after copulation to give an advantage to his chances at paternity. The subordinate male eventually also copulate with the female.  What to say about this!!!
  9. Young babies are born without fur and eyesight. The latter is achieved after 22-26 days. They come out of the nest after 30 days and reach sexual maturity at 2 years.
  10. A young / baby of an Indian giant squirrel is called a ‘pup, kit or kitten’. The females are called ‘doe’ and males ‘buck’. Indian giant squirrels group is called a ‘dray or scurry’.  Group Knowledge…
  11. Indian Giant Squirrel is the state animal of Maharashtra, locally called “Shekaru”.  Yup, IGS is a Marathi….

If you want to spot Indian Giant Squirrel then make a visit to south India,  you can easily spot them in national parks and tiger reserves of Kerala,Karnataka and Mahrashtra. Some sanctuaries/reserves for spotting IGS are:-

  1. Bhimshankar WIldlife Sanctuary.
  2. Periyar Tiger Reserve.
  3. Satpura Tiger Reserve.
  4. Bandipur National Park.

Liked what your read?? Share the Blog, and comment or Email me the next species which you want to know about in detail . Till then Adios amigos!!! and keep looking  for wonders…

 

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