The beautiful Black Giant
Squirrel is one of the largest squirrels in the world. It inhabits tall
primary forest and generally remains high in the canopy, but at times may be
found at lower levels when feeding. It is largely solitary in habits
and extremely shy, rarely coming to ground. It can confidently make huge
leaps from branch to branch in the high canopy.
Its upperparts and tail
are jet black, but the cheeks, chest, front of the forelimbs and underparts
are cream or orange. The tail is long and dorso-ventrally
Fruits, seeds and young
leaves make up
its diet, supplemented by occasional insects and sometimes birds eggs. It
builds a large, spherical nest of leaves and twigs.
The species once ranged extensively from Nepal and Assam through Burma,
Indochina and Thailand to Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java and Bali.
Its numbers have declined with the large-scale clearance of primary forest.
It is absent from Singapore.
Fig 1 : Orange-chested form from
Langkawi, Peninsular Malaysia, showing typical feeding posture.
Fig 2 :
Photographed at Frasers Hill, Pahang, Peninsular
Fig 3 : Pale-chested form at Gunung Pulai, Johor, Peninsular
Order : RODENTIA
Family : Sciuridae
Species : Ratufa bicolor
Head-Body Length : Up to 40 cm
Tail Length : Up to 50 cm
Weight : Up to 1.6 kg ?
References : M1, M3