Yes, Giant Technicolor Squirrels Actually Roam the Forests of Southern India

  
Via:  bob-nelson  •  2 months ago  •  17 comments

Yes, Giant Technicolor Squirrels Actually Roam the Forests of Southern India
The colorful creatures can measure up to three feet long from head to tail and weigh in at around four pounds

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


originalThe multi-hued, three-foot-long squirrels currently taking the internet by storm are no Photoshopped mythical creatures.

As Jason Bittel reports for National Geographic, the colorful four-pound critters—enjoying a renewed burst of attention thanks to a series of snapshots posted on Instagram by amateur photographer Kaushik Vijayan—not only roam the forests of southern India, but also, in the words of wildlife conservation biologist John Koprowski, look “exactly” like the majestic orange-, purple- and maroon-colored animals seen on Vijayan’s feed. (Give or take a few filters, that is: Evolutionary biologist Dana Krempels points out that the photographer may have enhanced the squirrels’ natural coloring by applying a “vibrance” setting.)

Officially known as Ratufa indica, or the Malabar giant squirrel, the species is one of four relatively hefty rodents in the squirrel family.

original

“The four species that make up this group are fascinating in their large size, brilliant coloration, and penchant for feeding on some of the massive tropical fruits in the tree canopy,” Koprowski tells Bittel.

Although these companions match the Malabar squirrel in sheer mass, they have decidedly less technicolor coats: Ratufa affinis, found in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, has brown or tan coloring, while Ratufa bicolor, as its name suggests, is mainly black and white. Ratufa macroura, also dubbed the Sri Lankan giant squirrel, bears two-toned shades of black and grey.

original

According to the Independent’s Chiara Giordano, Malabar giant squirrels can measure up to 36 inches, or three feet, from head to tail. Their better-known grey, red and black relatives (such as the friendly eastern greys common across North America) are roughly half this size.

Impressively, the giant rodents are capable of jumping 20 feet between trees. And this is far from their only special skill: As John Wible, curator of mammals at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, explains to National Geographic’s Bittel, the squirrels create food stores in treetops high above the forest floor. Comparatively, most squirrels hide their seeds and nuts underground.

originalVijayan spotted the purple-hued animal in question while visiting a forest in India’s Pathanamthitta District. “I felt so amazed by how drop-dead gorgeous it looked," he told CBS News’ Christopher Brito. "It was indeed a jaw-dropping sight to behold."

original

Malabar squirrels were listed as a vulnerable species some 20 years ago, Mike McRae writes for Science Alert, but their numbers have since stabilized. In 2016, Badri Chatterjee observed for the Hindustan Times, a census found that the giant squirrels had actually experienced an eight percent bump in population across the Indian districts of Pune and Thane.

It remains unclear why the giant creatures boast such vibrant colors. Although these shades provide a boon for nature photographers, they could prove to be a liability in forests where such creatures as lion-tailed macaques, leopards and crested serpent eagles are on the hunt for hapless rodent prey.

McRae posits that the Malabar squirrels’ coloring helps them blend in with the contrasting hues of the forest’s canopic covering, or perhaps attract a mate’s attention. Speaking with Bittel, Koprowski expands on the former theory, noting that their markings may enable squirrels to camouflage themselves among the forest’s “mosaic of sun flecks and dark, shaded areas.”

Initial image: The squirrels measure up to 36 inches from head to tail

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Bob Nelson
1  seeder  Bob Nelson    2 months ago

I wonder if they like to chase dogs...

 
 
 
Split Personality
1.1  Split Personality  replied to  Bob Nelson @1    2 months ago

Ha, the returning everlasting article about technicolor squirrels !!

I think I locked my seed after only 9 comments in a week.

let's see if you can do better, lol.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
1.1.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Split Personality @1.1    2 months ago

Sorry 'bout that... I don't do duplicates, by principle.

Maybe yours ran while I was suspended...  jrSmiley_26_smiley_image.gif

I'll delete if you wish.

 
 
 
Split Personality
1.1.2  Split Personality  replied to  Bob Nelson @1.1.1    2 months ago

Nah, let it rip.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
2  Ed-NavDoc    2 months ago

At three feet long, these critters probably attack and hunt  people...jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Kavika
3  Kavika     2 months ago

Three feet long, holy moly. They are predators not prey. 

Beautiful coloring though.

 
 
 
epistte
4  epistte    2 months ago

I have black and orange, and black and grey mix squirrels in my yard but I have never seen a tree rat that looks like it ate a box of crayons.   Obviously, they would be welcome. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  epistte @4    2 months ago

No problem. All you have to do is move to India...

 
 
 
epistte
4.1.1  epistte  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1    2 months ago
No problem. All you have to do is move to India...

I don't like hot weather that much, but I love the food. India has a severe problem with women's rights that also doesn't sound appealing. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.2  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  epistte @4.1.1    2 months ago

Yeah... OK... right...

But they've got technicolor squirrels!

 
 
 
epistte
4.1.3  epistte  replied to  Bob Nelson @4.1.2    2 months ago
Yeah... OK... right... But they've got technicolor squirrels!

I can probably watch technicolor squirrel videos on YouTube.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
4.1.4  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  epistte @4.1.3    2 months ago

Where's the romance in that??

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
4.1.5  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  epistte @4.1.1    2 months ago

When I lived in Christchurch, New Zealand I had a Indian restaurant I frequented. The owner and I had a standing joke in that every time I went he would always ask me if I wanted to order the eyeball soup to which each time I politely said no thanks I'll pass. Food was great if spicy though...jrSmiley_82_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
epistte
4.1.6  epistte  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @4.1.5    2 months ago
When I lived in Christchurch, New Zealand I had a Indian restaurant I frequented. The owner and I had a standing joke in that every time I went he would always ask me if I wanted to order the eyeball soup to which each time I politely said no thanks I'll pass. Food was great if spicy though...

I try to order something different every time because the menu is 3-4 pages so there is a lot to try. I tend to order it native spicy and they always ask me if I am sure because apparently 40-something white females are not supposed to like spicy food. 

I've tried to make basic Indian dishes (Chicken Tikka', Vindaloo, and Biryani) but my technique still a work in progress. 

 
 
 
Ender
5  Ender    2 months ago

Squirrels have been plotting to take over the world.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
5.1  seeder  Bob Nelson  replied to  Ender @5    2 months ago

    clapping_smiley_emoticon.gif~c200

 
 
 
cjcold
6  cjcold    2 months ago

Wonder what they taste like.

 
 
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