The Indian giant squirrel can grow to 45 centimetres (18 inches) with a 60 centimetre (two foot) tail that is uses as a counterweight to improve its balance. It can leap distances of six metres (20 feet) in search of tree bark, fruit and insects to eat. This squirrel’s time is divided almost exactly down the middle between feeding and resting, leaving just five per-cent of its time dedicated to nest maintenance and other activities.
It’s a solitary animal that marks it territory with pungent body secretions and loud vocal calls. First thing in the morning a squirrel emits a loud squeak to warn others that it is about to leave the nest, then continues to make clicks and chirps while foraging to tell others to stay off their patch. Mother squirrels care for their young by nuzzling and grooming them and if they become separated, the pup will hiss so the mother can follow the sound to find her baby.
Remarkably, the Indian giant squirrel can understand the alarm calls of muntjac deer and make a hasty escape from an approaching predator. They have also been spotted playing on their own by throwing items in the air and catching them again, and they sometimes even play with surrounding monkeys.
Image from www.flickr.com/photos/srikaanth-sekar