Prevost's SquirrelScientific Name Callosciurus prevostii

Conservation Status Least Concern

Appearance

The top half of a Prevost’s squirrel is coloured black while the lower half is a chestnut brown. Running between the two is a white stripe. This white stripe extends on to the face towards the nose which is black. The thighs and flanks are also white. Some variation in subspecies exhibits with some missing the white stripe.

They have a bushy black tail. This is used for balance when running through the trees.

Their teeth are chisel shaped incisors. These grow continuously throughout their life. Over time they will wear down through use.

From the head to the base of the tail they measure 12 to 28cm (5-11in) with a tail which adds between 7 and 25cm (3 and 10in) to this length. On average, they weigh 326g (11oz).

Lifespan

In captivity Prevosts squirrel’s live for up to 15 years. Wild lifespan has not yet been studied.

Diet

Prevost’s squirrels are omnivores. They have a varied diet including fruit, flowers, seeds, insects, larvae, eggs, reptiles and small birds. When searching for food they use their sense of smell and hearing.

Prevost's SquirrelBy eating fruits, they help to move seeds to new areas of forests. Once they are done with their fruit they drop the seeds on the floor helping to produce new plants.

Habitat

Asia is the native home of Prevost’s squirrel. Here they can be found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and numerous smaller islands. An introduced population also exists on Sulawesi.

They inhabit the lowland and montane forests. With human settlement, they have begun to spread in to cultivated areas and gardens. Here they can live amongst secondary and primary forests. They will make a nest in the trees where they can hide from predators. This may be a tree hollow or be built from twigs and leaves.

Reproduction

Breeding can occur year-round with a peak occurring from June to August. In a single year one female may produce three litters.

Gestation lasts 40 days after which 1-2 infants will be born. These are naked, toothless and helpless. Their average weight at birth is 16g (0.56oz). Parents bring seeds back to the burrow for the juveniles to eat.

By 6 weeks old they are fully furred and able to venture out of the burrow on their own. It will take a year before they are sexually mature.

Behaviour

Most of the Prevost’s squirrel’s activity occurs around dusk and dawn. During this time, they will forage in groups.

These animals have not been studied thoroughly in the wild. Currently the only observed predators of Prevost’s squirrels are eagles and martens. They can also be persecuted by palm oil plantation owners due to their taste for oil palm nuts.

Communication is through vocalisations or body movements such as waving or raising the tail.) They have incredibly good eyesight which allows them to recognize other squirrels from up to several feet away.

Quick Facts

The word Callosciurus means “beautiful squirrel.”

Other names for Prevost’s squirrel include the ornamental, beautiful and tri-coloured squirrel.

Photo Credits

Top – By ZorroIII (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom – By Karakal (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons