Indian Giant Squirrel Fact File
Across the back the Indian giant squirrel is colored deep red or brown while the underside, inner legs and tail tip feature white fur.
Their coloration allows them to blend with the tree and resemble a passing shadow if a predator approaches.
At the end of the body of an Indian giant squirrel they have a long bushy tail which reaches a length of between 35 and 60cm (14-23.5in) long, often longer than the rest of their body.
The front paw of these animals is larger and has powerful claws which help them to grab branches or their food.
On average the Indian giant squirrel will measure between 35 and 40cm (14-16in) long with an average weight between 1.5 and 2kg (3.25-4.5lbs).
Females and males can be distinguished as the female has three mammae.
The Indian giant squirrel is an omnivore. Their diet includes a range of flowers, fruits, nuts, barks, insects and eggs.
When eating they often sit with their body leaning forward or down with the tail acting as a counterbalance.
They have an important role in their environment to distribute the seeds of plants on which they feed.
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Asia is the native home of the Indian giant squirrel. As their name suggests they can be found in India. Their range is severely fragmented breaking them in to many populations.
The Indian giant squirrel can be found in evergreen, semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests. They are intolerant to habitat degradation and when their habitat is cleared they will not move in to the plantations which replace this.
Most of their time is spent in the high canopy.
Breeding is recorded to take place from October to January but some studies suggest it may occur year round. Males compete among one another to gain breeding rights with the most desirable females.
Females create multiple nests from twigs and leaves throughout their habitat.
A litter of Indian giant squirrels will include between 1 and 3 young. Gestation period is not recorded for this species but in a closely related species was 28 to 35 days long.
Sexual maturity is reached at three years for females and four years for males. Females typically breed for the last time at 12 years old.
Indian giant squirrels are arboreal with most of their time spent in the trees. They will seek refuge within tree hollows.
These animals are able to leap between two trees covering distances of up to 6m (20ft).
Indian giant squirrels are considered solitary though pairs may remain together throughout the year.
Most of their activity occurs during the day.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the Indian giant squirrel include leopards, civets, snakes, and birds of prey.
Humans affect the population of the Eurasian giant squirrel through habitat degradation to expand plantations and hunting for food. These factors are increasing at an alarming rate and leading to significant population declines.
This species is also known as the Malabar giant squirrel.
It is the state animal in Maharashtra.
Indian giant squirrels are the largest squirrel species in India.
By Yathin S Krishnappa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24714929
By N. A. Naseer / www.nilgirimarten.com, CC BY-SA 2.5 in, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27790849
By Manoj Ashokkumar – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49545049
By Joydeep 87 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49257444
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