Giant Squirrel (Ratufa affinis)


Giant Squirrel (Ratufa affinis sandakanensis)

Global population trend: decreasing

At SAFE Project: rarely seen

Habitats observed in at SAFE Project:

Primary forest

Logged forest

Palm oil plantation


Animal Facts

Also known as the pale giant or cream coloured squirrel. It is a closed canopy species that is never seen on ground. It is one of the largest species of squirrel in the world. The head and back of the body varies from dark brown to gray, and the belly varies from dark yellow to white. The ears are short and round. The adult squirrel’s head and body is from 322 to 350 millimetres (12.7 to 14 in) in length, and the tail is 373 to 438 millimetres (14.7 to 17.2 in) long, with an overall length of 695 to 788 millimetres (27.4 to 31.0 in); the weight is between 929 to 1,575 grams (2.05 to 3.47 lb).

This species is diurnal, but mainly active during morning and evening. They live either in pairs or alone. Unlike other tree squirrels, the cream-coloured giant squirrel does not sit upright with its tail arched over its back while feeding; instead, it balances itself with its hind feet on a branch so that its hands are free to control its food. In this position the axis of the squirrels body is held at right angles to the support, with its head and forequarters on one side of the branch, and the tail as a counterweight on the other side.

Although this squirrel often will make holes in trees for shelter, during the breeding season it constructs a large globular drey (or nest) in tree branches, roughly the size of an eagle’s aerie. The young are born and raised in this nest.

Where do they live?

Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatera); Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak); Singapore; Thailand.

Habitat:

Wet evergreen forests.

What do they eat?

Mainly fruit seeds and leaves, sometimes on insects.

Who eats them?

Humans, cats, snakes and raptors.

Threatened by…

Competition from the great variety of other arboreal vertebrates (such as birds, and especially primates) for food. This species is threatened by logging and hunting in forest fragments.

Cream-coloured giant squirrel
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Genus: Ratufa
Species: R. affinis
Binomial name
Ratufa affinis(Raffles, 1821)
Subspecies
  • R. a. affinis
  • R. a. bancana
  • R. a. baramensis
  • R. a. bunguranensis
  • R. a. cothurnata
  • R. a. ephippium
  • R. a. hypoleucos
  • R. a. insignis
  • R. a. polia
Cream-coloured giant squirrel range

References

  • http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/19376/0
  • Slideshow Image: http://www.ecologyasia.com/images-abc/cream-coloured-giant-squirrel_5462.jpg
  • Species image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnnizam/2384236292/
  • IUCN conservation status bar: http://www.asknature.org/strategy/4862dec85d058535bb6e9d6be435ec62
  • Logged forest image: http://www.fredhoogervorst.com/oni.app/local/upload/35755.jpg
  • Palm oil plantation image: http://static.zsl.org/images/width225/flickrview-of-palm-oil-plantation-in-cigudeg-bogor1-8191.jpg
  • Table: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream-coloured_giant_squirrel (Updated 19/12/2012)

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Compiled by Adam Sharp, Rosie Burdon and Nicola Harrison