Scientists believe they’ve captured the first-ever footage of one of the rarest and most unusual squirrels on earth.
The Bornean tufted ground squirrel is native to the forests of Borneo, an island in southeast Asia. They’re most notable for sporting the fluffiest tails of any animal. These bushy appendages are an impressive 130 percent the size of their bodies, which are already twice as large as most tree squirrels.
Other than that, little else is known about thIs elusive creature. Few photographs of it exist, and this new footage could mark the first time it’s ever been captured on video. The clip is the result of an effort from researchers studying the ecology of the island’s Gunung Palung National Park. Thirty-five motion-sensitive cameras were installed throughout the reserve, one of which recorded a Bornean tufted ground squirrel sniffing around the forest floor.
Though the cameras do film in color, they switch to infrared in low light, as was the case with this black-and-white footage. What looks cute at first turns creepy fast within the context of the folklore surrounding the animal. According to local hunters, the squirrels skulk in trees waiting for a deer to pass by, which they then attack, ripping out its jugular vein before finally disemboweling the lifeless corpse.
This has earned it the nickname “vampire squirrel,” though scientists are skeptical of accounts of such bloodthirsty behavior. The squirrel has so far been known to mostly eat giant, rock-hard acorns, though how it’s able to gnaw through them still remains a mystery (with razor-sharp, vampire teeth perhaps?). Scientists hope that the additional cameras they’ve installed will reveal the answer to this question and more.