Grizzled giant squirrel

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Grizzled giant squirrel
Flickr - Rainbirder - Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura).jpg
The highland subspecies of Giant Squirrel, with denser fur.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Genus: Ratufa
Species: R. macroura
Binomial name
Ratufa macroura
(Pennant, 1769)
  • R. m. macroura
  • R. m. dandolena
  • R. m. melanochra
Ratufa macroura range map.svg
Grizzled giant squirrel range

zeylanicus (Ray, 1693)[2]

The grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura) is a large tree squirrel in the genus Ratufa found in the highlands of the Central and Uva provinces of Sri Lanka, and in patches of riparian forest along the Kaveri River and in the hill forests in the Tamil Nadu and Kerala states of southern India.[3] The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as near threatened due to habitat loss and hunting.

There are three subspecies, all of which are found in Sri Lanka. The subspecies R. m. dandolena (taken from the Sinhalese language name for the Grizzled giant squirrel, dhandu laena-දඩු ලේනා) is also found in India.

Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Shenbagathoppu, Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu, India.


Illustration of Ratufa macroura

R. macroura is the smallest of the giant squirrels found in the Indian subcontinent, with a head and body length of 25 to 45 centimetres (9.8 to 17.7 in), and tail measuring roughly the same or more, for a total length of 50 to 90 centimetres (20 to 35 in). It has small rounded ears with pointed tufts. The home range of an individual is between 1,970 and 6,110 square metres.

Subspecies dandolena is dorsally brown grizzled with white. Ventrally light brownish cream. Tail frosted with white fur. Forehead and feet are black in color. Whereas ssp. melamochra, upper parts are jet black which contrast brownish cream to orange yellow ventral surface. Tail frosted with black fur. Snout of both ssp. are pinkish color.


Ratufa macroura are known to take fruits, nuts, insects, bird eggs, and the bark of some trees. The fruit of the climber Combretum ovalifolium is an especially important food source where it occurs. Young squirrels, upon first emerging from the nest, have been observed to feed exclusively on this fruit.[4]


In India, R.macroura has been recorded from Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary, Theni Forest Division, Palni Hills, Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, Anaimalai Tiger reserve, Sirumalai, Thiruvannamalai Forest Division of the Eastern Ghats, Hosur Forest Division and Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.[5]

In Sri Lanka, it is recorded from all parts of dry zone, specially in Anuradhapura, Mihintale, Kandalama, Matale, Wasgamuwa, and Central Hills and Uva Province.


The table below lists the three recognized subspecies of Ratufa macroura, along with any synonyms associated with each subspecies:[2]

Ratufa macroura taxonomy
Subspecies Authority Synonyms
R. m. macroura Pennant (1769) albipes, ceilonensis, ceylonica, macrura, montana, tennentii
R. m. dandolena Thomas and Wroughton (1915) sinhala
R. m. melanochra Thomas and Wroughton (1915) none


  1. ^ Joshua, J., de A. Goonatilake, W. I. L. D. P. T. S. & Molur, S. (2008). Ratufa macroura. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Thorington, R.W., Jr.; Hoffmann, R.S. (2005). "Ratufa macroura". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: a taxonomic and geographic reference (3rd ed.). The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 754–818. ISBN 0-8018-8221-4. OCLC 26158608. 
  3. ^ Srinivasulu, C.; Chakraborty, S.; Pradhan, M.S. (February 2004). "Checklist of sciurids (mammalia: rodentia: sciuridae) of south Asia" (.pdf). Zoos' print journal (Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India: Zoo Outreach Organisation) 19 (2): 1356. ISSN 0973-2535. OCLC 61770409. Retrieved 28 March 2010. 
  4. ^ Kane, E. (1999). "Ratufa macroura - Sri Lankan giant squirrel". Animal Diversity Wrb. University of Micigan, Dept of Zoology. Retrieved 1 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Babu, S.; Kalaimani, A. (26 February 2014). "New site record of Grizzled Giant Squirrel Ratufa macroura from Thiruvannamalai Forest Division, Eastern Ghats, Tamil Nadu, India" (.pdf). Journal of Threatened Taxa. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 

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