Thursday, April 14, 2016

Malabar Giant Squirrel

The Malabar giant squirrel (Ratufa indica) is a large species of squirrel native to India.  It is one of the largest species of squirrels in the world.

Physical Features
The malabar giant squirrels have a black or maroon back with its ventral side, face and tail being cream or buff.  Its body length can be anywhere between 30cm-50cm while its tail is around 2 feet long.  

The malabar giant squirrel is generally active in the evening as well as in the early hours of the morning.  They spend most of their time on trees and are seldom seen on the forest floor.  When threatened they freeze or lie flat against a tree.  They are very shy animals. They are generally solitary except during breeding season.

The malabar giant squirrel primarily feeds on fruits, making it a herbivore.

Distribution and Habitat
Malabar giant squirrels generally inhabit mixed deciduous forests and moist evergreen forests with high canopies.  A large portion of their population is present in the forests of Peninsular India, in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and parts of Madhya Pradesh.

Conservation Status
The malabar giant squirrel is rated as 'Least Concern' by the IUCN.  However, its population is threatened by illegal pet trade, habitat destruction and hunting.  It is a protected species and is the state animal of the Indian state, Maharashtra.  

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