You might not normally think of squirrels as beautiful. They are usually grey or brown, and they are rodents, after all. But that’s because you likely haven’t seen the Malabar giant squirrel, also known as the Indian giant squirrel.
These critters can be 36 inches long, which is more than double the size of the grey squirrels you are likely to see in the U.S. But most impressively, Malabar giant squirrels have beautiful, multicolored fur, including shades of black, brown, orange, maroon and purple:
Indian giant squirrels mostly live in eastern or southern India and can be difficult to spot, due to their camouflage and their tendency to hop from tree to tree. According to a 2007 study in the journal Ecoscience, they often hoard seeds in nests they build in the treetops.
John Koprowski, professor and associate director at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona, is a squirrel expert. He first saw a Malabar giant squirrel during a trip to India in 2006.
“In the shaded understory of a dense forest, the patchy colors and dark hues are a great adaptation to avoiding detection,” Koprowski told The Dodo. “But when you see these in the sunlight, they show their ‘true colors’ and beautiful pelage [fur].”
This species is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s designated list of least concern, meaning they are not in imminent danger of going extinct. However, their population has been in decline nonetheless due to the destruction of their forest habitat. Protection laws would help them thrive in the future.
Their beautiful colors are so eye-catching that the squirrels became an inspiration for people seeking new hues to dye their hair after one was photographed in the Anchankovil forest in Kerala, India. We can see why these colorful creatures are so inspiring!
It would appear that these giant squirrels aren’t too afraid of humans, either. Check out this video footage of one enjoying a cookie:
Does the Malabar giant squirrel change how you’ll look at squirrels forever?
Well, you might want to check out some other gorgeous squirrels you may not have seen before. The Prevost’s squirrel, for example, is a gorgeous creature with a coat that sports a tri-color pattern — black, white and reddish-brown. They live in southeastern Asian, in places like the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra and the East Indies. These squirrels, about the same size as the ones we’re more used to, prefer forests and cultivated areas.
Here’s an image of Finlayson’s squirrel, another beauty. You might find these spry little guys in Thailand yards and gardens, but they’re also common in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. Their fur color is quite variable.
Check out the adorable ears of the Eurasian red squirrel, which has such a pretty color in its coat. This squirrel lives in the forests of Europe and northern Asia. These animals are still fairly common in parts of central Europe, but have been extirpated (made locally extinct) in parts of the continent, such as most of Great Britain.
Now you’ve seen some other squirrels, you’re convinced, right? These little guys are awesome!