Multicolored Squirrels From India Make Their Spring Debut on Social Media

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
April 4, 2019 Updated: April 4, 2019

An amateur wildlife photographer has captured impressive images of multicolored squirrels scavenging for food in the evergreen forests of South India.

Photographer, Kaushik Vijayan, 39 captured the photographs in a forest in the Pathanamthitta District of the southern state of Kerala, reported The Independent.

This almost unreal looking, multicolored squirrel also called the Indian giant squirrel or the Malabar giant squirrel is gifted with a unique fur that can be black, brown, purple, orange, and maroon colors.

Maroon and purple are unusual colors in mammals, according to The Dodo.

When squirrel expert John Koprowski first saw the Malabar squirrel he thought it was too big for a squirrel—more like a primate, according to The Dodo.

Vijayan told The Independent that he always gets a great response on the giant squirrel pictures he posts on social media and it encourages him to go to the forests.

“It was when I shared some of the photographs on social media many of my friends and followers came to know about the Malabar giant squirrel and they were all amazed by its appearance,” Vijayan said.

Malabar giant squirrels are huge and look very different from those seen in North America. Their bodies from head to tail are about 36 inches.

“Up until that point I had never heard about a squirrel like that or seen one. The sight was an absolute feast for my eyes. The squirrels fascinated me and I got excited to capture this beauty on my camera,” he said.

Koprowski said that in a shaded, dense forest, the patchy colors and dark hues help the squirrels to adapt and avoid detection.

“But when you see these in the sunlight, they show their ‘true colors’ and beautiful pelage [fur],” he said.

These squirrels also have furry ear tufts and robust forelimbs and this gives them a distinct appearance.

It’s not easy to spot Malabar giant squirrels. To observe them one has to trek into a forest in eastern and southern India and even then it’s difficult to spot them.

“They are pretty shy,” Pizza Ka Yee Chow, squirrel expert and research fellow at Hokkaido University, told The Dodo. “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].”

This unique squirrel’s population is declining but it’s not yet identified as threatened by extinction.

“The real threat is the slow loss and degradation of forested habitats as humans move in and as climate change impacts higher elevation areas,” Koprowski said. “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.”

Follow Venus on Twitter: @venusupadhayaya

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