India boasts an impressive array of squirrel species, each with its own unique traits and geographical range. Among the most iconic is the Indian giant squirrel, with its stunning multicolored fur, inhabiting the forests of southern India. Urban and rural areas are also teeming with Indian palm squirrels, renowned for their lively antics. Gardens and forests across India harbor the five-striped palm squirrel, featuring five distinctive stripes that set it apart from other squirrels. While squirrels are widely admired for their vital role in seed dispersal and forest regeneration, they can also pose a nuisance to homeowners, damaging property and electrical wiring. Nonetheless, these captivating creatures form an essential part of India’s diverse and invaluable wildlife, adding to the country’s rich biological heritage.
Flying squirrel in India
Flying squirrels are an extraordinary group of squirrels found in India and other parts of the world. India is home to several species of flying squirrels, including the Indian giant flying squirrel, the red giant flying squirrel, and the Malabar giant flying squirrel. These nocturnal creatures have adapted to life in the trees, where they can glide from one branch to another using their skin flaps or patagia. Their large, expressive eyes allow them to see well in the dark, and their soft, fluffy fur helps them stay warm during cold nights. Flying squirrels play an important role in forest ecosystems, where they help to disperse seeds and pollinate flowers.
Kashmir flying Squirrel
|1||Common Name||Kashmiri flying squirrel|
|2||Scientific Name||Pteromys petaurista|
|3||Length||25 to 35 centimetres|
|4||Colour||Grayish-brown on the upper side and pale cream on the underside|
|5||Height/Girth||Height: up to 20 centimetres (including the tail)|
|6||Tail length (if mammal)||Tail length: up to 20 centimetres|
|7||Height till shoulder (if mammal)||N/A|
|8||Average Weight||150 to 300 grams|
|9||Food Habits||Fruits, nuts, seeds, and insects|
|10||Habitat||The Kashmiri flying squirrel is found in the forests of the Himalayas, from Pakistan to Bhutan, including India’s Jammu and Kashmir region.|
|11||Interesting Facts||The Kashmiri flying squirrel has a membrane called a patagium that extends from its wrists to its ankles, allowing it to glide through the air for up to 100 meters.|
The Kashmir flying squirrel, also known as the Pallas’s flying squirrel, is a species of flying squirrel found in the northern regions of South Asia, including India and Pakistan.
Both male and female Kashmir flying squirrels have a soft, dense, and silky fur that is brownish-grey on the upper side and white or pale grey on the underside. They have large, dark eyes and flattened tails that help them glide through the air. The squirrel’s body is around 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) in length, and their tail can be around 7-9 inches (18-23 cm) long.
One of the special characteristics of the Kashmir flying squirrel is that they are arboreal animals, which means they spend most of their time in trees. They have developed special adaptations to help them glide between trees, including a flap of skin called a patagium that extends between their front and hind limbs, which helps them glide through the air. Additionally, the squirrel’s tail acts as a rudder, allowing them to control their direction during flight.
The Kashmir flying squirrel is nocturnal, which means they are most active at night. They feed on a variety of foods, including nuts, fruits, and insects. They are also known to store food in tree hollows and crevices, which they can access later.
In terms of differences between males and females, there are some subtle distinctions, such as size and weight. Generally, male Kashmir flying squirrels tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females. However, the differences are not significant, and both sexes share similar physical characteristics and behaviours
The diet of the Kashmir flying squirrel consists mainly of nuts, fruits, and insects. They are known to feed on a variety of nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts, and fruits such as apples, pears, and berries. Insects, especially moths and beetles, form a significant part of their diet, especially during the breeding season.t.
The Kashmir flying squirrel is found in the northern regions of South Asia, including India, Pakistan and China. In India, the species is found in the Himalayan regions, including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and parts of Punjab.
The Kashmir flying squirrel inhabits high-altitude forests, especially those dominated by coniferous trees such as pine, fir, and spruce. They are also found in mixed deciduous forests and oak forests, where they can find a variety of food sources.
The Kashmir flying squirrel is listed as a “Least Concern” species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, it is still considered to be rare in some areas due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
In India, the Kashmir flying squirrel is found in scattered populations in the Himalayan regions. According to the available data, the population size and distribution of the species in India are not well known. However, it is believed that the species is relatively stable in some areas, while in others, it may be declining due to habitat loss and degradation.
The major threats faced by the Kashmir flying squirrel include deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and hunting. The species’ dependence on old-growth forests and their sensitivity to habitat disturbance make them vulnerable to habitat loss and fragmentation. Additionally, the squirrel’s unique characteristics, such as their ability to glide through the air, make them attractive targets for hunting and poaching.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the Dachigam National Park and Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary are two such protected areas that provide suitable habitat for the species. The Dachigam National Park, located near the city of Srinagar, is spread over an area of 141 square kilometres and is home to a variety of wildlife, including the Kashmiri flying squirrel.
The Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the district of Anantnag, covers an area of 32 square kilometres and is also an important habitat for the species.
In Punjab, the Bir Mehas Wildlife Sanctuary is another protected area that is home to the Kashmiri flying squirrel. The sanctuary covers an area of 267 square kilometres and is located in the Rupnagar district of the state. The sanctuary is known for its diverse flora and fauna, and provides an important refuge for several threatened species.