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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless otherwise credited.
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Irrawaddy Squirrel

Family : Sciuridae
Species : Callosciurus pygerythrus

Head-Body Length : up to 20 cm
Tail Length : up to 20 cm
Weight : approx 45 grams

Callosciurus pygerythrus (Irrawaddy Squirrel or Hoary-bellied Squirrel) is a relatively small squirrel which inhabits parts of northwestern Southeast Asia, and beyond. It is named after the Irrawaddy River, which runs through the heart of Myanmar. The term 'hoary' means 'greyish white.

It is an adaptable species which can thrive in a variety of forest types including deciduous broadleaved woodland, coniferous evergreen forest, secondary growth and mixed agricultural areas. Population densities are higher in disturbed forest, when compared with intact forest (IUCN: Duckworth, 2016).

Its diet includes a wide range of vegetation including seeds, flowers, fruits, bark and lichen, as well as insects and probably occasional small vertebrates.

There is some variation in fur colour between different populations, but the upperparts are reddish-brown to greyish-brown, and somewhat grizzled, and the underparts variable. Pale patches may be present on the hips. Francis (2001) summarizes a wide range of colour variation in Myanmar, although many such variations might be difficult to identify in the field.

The species is closely-related to Callosciurus inornatus (Inornate Squirrel), which occurs in parts of Laos and Vietnam (Oshida et al, 2021). 

Callosciurus pygerythrus is known to occur in Bangladesh, northeast India, Nepal and Myanmar (mainly west of the Irrawaddy River). It ranges from lowlands to lower montane regions at around 1500 metres.

Figs 1 and 2 : Example from northeastern India, with grizzled grey-brown fur, a dark tip to the tail and pale hip patch.  Photos thanks to Senan D'Souza.

References : M1

Duckworth, J. W. 2016. Callosciurus pygerythrus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species2016: e.T3604A22253451.

Oshida, T. et al (2021). Phylogenetic relationships among Callosciurus squirrels in the Indochina Peninsula: phylogenetic position of C. pygerythrus from Myanmar. Acta Zoologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 67(1), 87-98.

Fig 1

ゥ  Senan D'Souza

Fig 2

ゥ  Senan D'Souza