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.
Travancore Flying Squirrel
|1||Common Name||Travancore Flying Squirrel|
|2||Scientific Name||Petinomys fuscocapillus|
|3||Length||33 to 42 centimetres|
|4||Colour||Grayish-brown on the upper side and creamy white on the underside|
|5||Height/Girth||Height: up to 20 centimetres (including the tail)|
|6||Tail length (if mammal)||Tail length: up to 22 centimetres|
|7||Height till shoulder (if mammal)||N/A|
|8||Average Weight||350 to 500 grams|
|9||Food Habits||Fruits, nuts, seeds, and insects|
|10||Habitat||Found in the Western Ghats of India, particularly in the high altitude montane forests of Kerala and Tamil Nadu|
|11||Interesting Facts||The Travancore Flying Squirrel is the largest species of flying squirrel in Asia, and it has a patagium that stretches from its ankles to its neck, allowing it to glide up to 150 meters in a single leap. It is also known for its loud vocalizations during the breeding season.|
The Travancore flying squirrel (Petinomys fuscocapillus) is a species of flying squirrel found in the Western Ghats region of southern India. Both males and females have a distinctive coloration, with reddish-brown fur on their backs and white fur on their undersides. They have large, dark eyes and flattened tail that helps them glide through the air.
In terms of size, adult males are generally larger than females, with a body length of around 240-270 mm (9.4-10.6 in) and a weight of 200-230 g (7.1-8.1 oz), while females measure 200-250 mm (7.9-9.8 in) in length and weigh around 160-190 g (5.6-6.7 oz).
One special characteristic of the Travancore flying squirrel is their ability to glide through the air. They have a patagium, a membrane of skin that stretches between their front and hind legs, which allows them to glide from tree to tree. They are also primarily nocturnal and arboreal, spending most of their time in trees and coming down to the ground only rarely.
In terms of behaviour, little is known about the Travancore flying squirrel. However, they are thought to be primarily solitary and territorial animals, with males occupying larger home ranges than females. They feed mainly on fruits and insects, and may also consume tree bark, leaves, and flowers. Overall, the Travancore flying squirrel is an interesting and unique species that plays an important ecological role in its native habitat.
The Travancore flying squirrel is primarily a frugivorous species, meaning they primarily eat fruits. Some of the fruits they feed on include figs, mangoes, and jackfruit. They may also consume insects, tree bark, leaves, and flowers as supplements to their diet.
The Travancore flying squirrel is found in the Western Ghats region of southern India, which is a mountain range that runs parallel to the western coast of India. Specifically, they are found in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.
These squirrels inhabit tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, where they spend most of their time in the upper canopy of trees. They are also sometimes found in plantations and gardens near forested areas.
The Travancore flying squirrel is considered a vulnerable species in India due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by deforestation, logging, and human encroachment. The population size of this species is not well-known, but it is believed to be decreasing due to these threats.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the population of the Travancore flying squirrel is decreasing and there are estimated to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals in the wild. However, more research is needed to accurately determine the population size of this species.
Conservation efforts are underway to protect the Travancore flying squirrel and its habitat. The species is listed in Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which provides legal protection against hunting, trapping, or trade. In addition, several protected areas in southern India, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, provide a safe haven for this species. However, habitat loss and fragmentation remain significant threats to the survival of the Travancore flying squirrel, and continued conservation efforts are needed to ensure its long-term survival.
The Travancore flying squirrel is found in several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in southern India, which are protected areas established to conserve the region’s rich biodiversity.
Periyar National Park: Located in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala, this national park is known for its elephant herds, but it is also home to the Travancore flying squirrel.
Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve: Located in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu, this wildlife sanctuary is known for its tigers, but it also provides a habitat for the Travancore flying squirrel.
Anamalai Tiger Reserve: Located in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu, this wildlife sanctuary is known for its elephants, tigers, and leopards, but it is also home to the Travancore flying squirrel.
Bandipur National Park: Located in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, this national park is known for its tigers and elephants, but it also provides a habitat for the Travancore flying squirrel.