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  Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel
   
   


Fig 1
 

Fig 2
 

Fig 3


Fig 4





 

 

 

Order : RODENTIA
Family : Sciuridae
Species : Ratufa affinis

Head-Body Length : Up to 38 cm
Tail Length : Up to 44 cm
Weight : Up to 1.5 kg

The Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel is perhaps the most attractive of all the larger squirrels in Southeast Asia. With a head-body length of up to 38 cm, and a tail reaching 44 cm, it is only eclipsed in size by the Black Giant Squirrel.

This squirrel inhabits primary rainforest, and appears  unable to adapt to over-logged secondary forest. It is diurnal and remains mostly in the forest canopy, but like many squirrels cannot resist raiding nearby cultivated areas in search of ripe fruits. Its natural diet includes forest seeds, leaves and bark.

The nest is a spherical arrangement of twigs built in the crown of tall trees.

Various subspecies are recognised, but the original pale form first described on Singapore Island in 1822 by Sir Stamford Raffles, Ratufa affinis affinis, now appears extinct in that country (although it still survives in Peninsular Malaysia and elsewhere). This subspecies becomes darker in the more northerly parts of Peninsula Malaysia and southern Thailand, as well as in Borneo.

The subspecies illustrated in Figures 3 and 4 (R. a. baramensis) inhabits northeast Borneo, including Sabah. It is easily recognised by its large size, dark upperparts, pale underparts and orange cheeks and throat.

The Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel (including its darker cousins) occurs in southern Burma, southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra (including the Riau Archipelago) and Borneo. In Singapore it is probably extinct.


Fig 1 : Example from lowland forest in Taman Negara, Peninsular Malaysia. This is the nominate subspecies Ratufa affinis affinis.

Fig 2 : Example from Johor in southern Peninsular Malaysia. This adult female was seen consuming flowers of a species of Polyalthia (Mongoon sp.).

Fig 3 : Adult male Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel (subspecies Ratufa affinis baramensis) in typical resting posture with tail hanging down.  Photographed at Danum Valley, Sabah, Borneo.

Fig 4 : Lying horizontally on a thick branch - this is a less typical resting posture.


References : M2, M3, M5