The 7 Coolest Squirrels You've Never Seen
Today, January 21, is the fifteenth annual Squirrel Appreciation Day. To help kick-start your appreciation, we thought we'd introduce you to squirrel species so obscure they're only known by squirrel hipsters. (Which is you, now.)
1. EURASIAN RED SQUIRREL (SCIURUS VULGARIS)
Peter Trimming, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
The red squirrel is a common sight in the forests of Europe and Asia, but is relatively unknown across the pond. In recent years, however, their populations are on the decline in England, Ireland, and Italy—in part because of the introduction of the ravenous eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolensis) from the United States.
2. JAPANESE SQUIRREL (SCIURUS LIS)
Ma2bara, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Sciurus lis can be found in conifer forests on the Japanese islands of Honshū, Kyūshū, and Shikoku.
3. FINLAYSON’S SQUIRREL (CALLOSCIURUS FINLAYSONII)
Thai National Parks, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
This southeast Asian squirrel makes its home in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
4. INDIAN GIANT SQUIRREL (RATUFA INDICA)
Yathin S. Krishnappavia, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
As its name suggests, Ratufa indica lives in the forest canopies of India. For squirrels, they really are pretty giant—from head to tail, they can max out at nearly 3 feet long.
5. AND 6. JAPANESE AND SIBERIAN DWARF FLYING SQUIRRELS (PTEROMYS MOMONGA AND PTEROMYS VOLANS)
Really. These are real animals. The two lethally cute species look quite similar—here’s P. momonga and here’s P. volans—but there are actually big genetic differences [PDF] between them.
7. GRIZZLED GIANT SQUIRREL (RATUFA MACROURA)
Steve Garvey, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
A near neighbor of the Indian giant squirrel, this rugged-looking species is the runt of the giant squirrel family. It spends most of its time in trees and can jump spans of nearly 20 feet from one tree to another.