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Text and photos by Nick Baker, unless credited to others.
Copyright ゥ Ecology Asia 2024







Sulawesi Dwarf Squirrels

Family : Sciuridae
Species : Prosciurillus spp.

Head-Body Length : largest in P. alstoni = 19.5 cm
Tail Length : longest in P. leucomus = 19.0 cm

The Indonesian island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) has 10 endemic species of squirrel of which 7 belong to the genus Prosciurillus, also known as dwarf squirrels.

The Celebes Dwarf Squirrel, which is the smallest of the group, is the only species likely to be found throughout this curiously-shaped island. Its head-body length reaches a maximum of just 15 cm. The other 6 species are localised in their distribution on parts of the main island, and may be limited to mountainous areas or outlying islands.

The largest of these squirrels is Alston's Squirrel, which has a maximum head-body length of 19.5 cm.

Prosciurillus squirrels are fairly plain in colour, being various shades of brown. They have relatively short, thick tails, and generally have pointed, erect ears, which may be edged with dark fur. The Whitish Dwarf Squirrel, which only occurs in the north of the island, has pale fur behind the ears. Two of the species have a dark line down the back.

All 7 species are strongly arboreal living mainly in the canopy, though some may descend to the ground where canopy connections are limited.  All are strictly diurnal, and are most active in the morning and late afternoon. They are omnivorous, and subsist on a variety of forest fruits, seeds and insects.

Figs 1 and 2 : Two examples of the Whitish Dwarf Squirrel Prosciurillus leucomus,
in the coastal Batuputih area of Tangkoko-Batuangas Nature Reserve, north Sulawesi. In both encounters the squirrel ascended to the forest canopy once disturbed.  Uppermost photo thanks to Norman Lim.

Fig 3 : Intact forest on the slopes of Mount Tangkoko, north Sulawesi, which supports a population of the Whitish Dwarf Squirrel.

References : M10

Prosciurillus species list Max
Head-Body length mm
Max tail length
P. abstrusus Secretive Dwarf Squirrel 148 130
P. alstoni Alston's Squirrel 195 180
P. leucomus Whitish Dwarf Squirrel 188 190
P. murinus Celebes Dwarf Squirrel 150 120
P. rosenbergii Sanghir Squirrel 190 180
P. topapuensis Mount Topapu Squirrel 190 175
P. weberi Weber's Dwarf Squirrel 187 142


Fig 1
ゥ  Norman Lim

Fig 2

Fig 3