Animal of the Week: Malabar Giant Squirrel
Malabar Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica)
When driving in Kabini if you hear a curious furtive sound you cannot attribute to a bird, be sure to look up, for Malabar giant squirrel enchants with its glossy two-toned or sometimes even three-toned colour scheme, as though cloaked by nuances of earth pigments. You might even be overcome to feel its lush and naturally groomed gorgeous tail but alas, it rarely leaves the trees as it dwells in upper canopies.
Referred to as ‘Shekru’ in Marathi, this giant squirrel is the state animal of Maharashtra. It constructs nests only in profusely branched tall trees, and is a wary, shy, elusive animal. If you are solitary, you’ll relate to this squirrel because so is it, except for when breeding time comes calling. When you find yourself in the moist evergreen forests of India, watch out for these charming beings; you might find one adorably hanging from its belly on a tall tree branch, devouring a fruit or hanging upside down to get its share of jackfruit, its two-foot long tail as lovely a thing of vision as can be.
And for playing a significant role in dispersing seeds and thereby shaping the ecosystem of its habitat, it’s our Animal of the Week!