Yes, Giant Technicolor Squirrels Exist

2 mins read
CREDIT: Kaushik Vijayan

Although it sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, giant rainbow-colored squirrels exist.

Malabar giant squirrels (ratufa indiadica) are twice as large as normal grey squirrels and have vivid colors. They live in the trees of Southern India’s rainforests.

The colors of their coats vary from deep purple to reddish maroon, cream, and rust orange.

They can grow to over 3 feet in length and weigh up to 5 lbs. American grey squirrels are only 1.5 pounds and almost half as long as the American grey squirrels.

These animals eat huge tropical fruits (like Jack fruit), nuts, and flowers. Although it is not clear why burly squirrels have brightly colored fur, it can be an advantage when hiding from predators.

CREDIT: Kaushik Vijayan

Some believe that the color variation actually helps animals hide from predators below. It seems to match the bright and dark shades of the tree canopy where they spend most of their lives.

CREDIT: Kaushik Vijayan

It may help you attract your mates.

Twenty years ago, the beautiful squirrels were designated a vulnerable species. Although they have been removed from the endangered species list, their habitat remains threatened by human development and deforestation.

Amazingly, giant rodents can leap 20 feet between trees.

Squirrels build food stores high up in trees, above the forest floor. Comparatively, squirrels tend to hide their nuts and seeds underground.

It is not clear why these giants are able to display such vivid colors. These colors are a boon to nature photographers but could be dangerous in forests where leopards, lion-tailed macaques, and crested serpents eagles hunt for rodent prey.