Red-legged sun squirrel
|Red-legged sun squirrel|
|in Ishasha, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda|
The red-legged sun squirrel (Heliosciurus rufobrachium) is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae, also commonly known as the crab-eating mongoose and the isabelline red-legged sun squirrel. It is native to tropical western and central Africa where its range extends from Senegal in the west, through Nigeria and the Republic of Congo to Uganda and Tanzania in the east. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and moist savanna. This species is thought to be common and has a very wide distribution, so the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of "least concern".
Distribution and habitat
The red-legged sun squirrel is found in Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda, but not south of the Congo River. It is found in habitats with large trees in which it can climb, in moist primary and secondary forests, plantations, isolated trees in savannahs and gardens. It has been reported from mangrove swamps (Avicennia spp) in Sierra Leone.
The red-legged sun squirrel is diurnal and forages in the upper and middle storeys of large trees. The diet consists primarily of fruits and seeds, but some green vegetation and arthropods are also eaten; much time is spent foraging along branches and probing into crevices for insects and their larvae. In captivity, these squirrels caught and ate birds introduced into their cages, and also ate birds eggs.
These squirrels are usually observed alone or in pairs, but seem to be gregarious as they have been seen grooming each other and resting side by side. Nesting takes place in holes in trunks and branches which are lined by twigs with their green leaves still attached. Breeding takes place twice a year with usually two young being born in each litter.
- Grubb, P. & Ekué, M. R. M. (2008). "Heliosciurus rufobrachium". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- Thorington, R.W.,; Hoffmann, R.S. (2005). "Family Sciuridae". 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.
- Jonathan Kingdon; David Happold; Thomas Butynski; Michael Hoffmann; Meredith Happold; Jan Kalina (2013). Mammals of Africa. A&C Black. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-4081-8996-2.