Cream-coloured giant squirrel
|Cream-coloured giant squirrel|
|Cream-coloured giant squirrel range|
The cream-coloured giant squirrel (Ratufa affinis) is a large tree squirrel in the genus Ratufa found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. It is probably extinct in Singapore, as no recent sightings have been made. Reported sightings in Vietnam in 1984 are considered to be dubious.
Along with its large size, this squirrel's colorful markings, that vary widely from one individual to the next, makes it readily identifiable and easily spotted in the wild. The back and head 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 13.8 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 (2.048 to 3.472 lb).
This species is the only giant squirrel in Borneo (elsewhere its distribution overlaps with that of the black giant squirrel). It is one of the mammal species found in the extensive Belum-Temengor forest preserve in the Malaysian state of Perak, on the Malay Peninsula.
The cream-coloured giant squirrel makes its home in lower montane and secondary forests, frequenting dipterocarp trees. It rarely enters plantations or settlements, preferring the forest. Although this squirrel primarily inhabits the upper canopy of the forest, it will at times come to ground in order to hunt smaller species of squirrels, or to cross gaps in the trees.
This species is diurnal, active during morning and evening. They live either in pairs or alone. When it is angry or shocked, it will give a loud sound that can be heard from afar.
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.
The main dietary habits of Ratufa affinis are seeds, which it supplements with leaves, fruits, nuts, bark, insects, and eggs. The squirrel has a very short thumb that it uses to hold and control its food while feeding.
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.
The table below lists the nine recognized subspecies of Ratufa affinis, along with any synonyms associated with each subspecies:
|R. a. affinis||Raffles (1821)||albiceps, aureiventer, frontalis, interposita, johorensis, klossi, pyrsonota|
|R. a. bancana||Lyon (1906)||none|
|R. a. baramensis||Bonhote (1900)||banguei, dulitensis, lumholtzi, sandakanensis|
|R. a. bunguranensis||Thomas and Hartert (1894)||confinis, nanogigas, notabilis, sirhassenensis|
|R. a. cothurnata||Lyon (1911)||griseicollis|
|R. a. ephippium||Müller (1838)||vittata, vittatula|
|R. a. hypoleucos||Horsfield (1823)||arusinus, balae, catemana, femoralis, masae, nigrescens, piniensis|
|R. a. insignis||Miller (1903)||bulana, carimonensis, condurensis, conspicua|
|R. a. polia||Lyon (1906)||none|
- Duckworth, J. W., Meijaard, E., Giman, B. & Han, K. H. (2008). Ratufa affinis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
- Thorington, R.W., Jr.; Hoffman, R.S. (2005). "Family Sciuridae". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 754. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Nowak, Ronald M. Walker’s mammals of the world. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-8018-5789-8, OCLC: 39045218. Chapter: "Sciuridae: squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs" in volume two.
- Payne, Junaidi, Charles M. Francis, and Karen Phillipps. A field guide to the mammals of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia: Sabah Society, 1998. ISBN 978-967-99947-1-1, OCLC: 21150449.
- Pale giant squirrel (Ratufa affinis) - Arkive.org page about this species, includes images.