The Indian Giant Squirrel travels from tree to tree with jumps of up to 19 feet.

It makes the other squirrels look like dormice in comparison. Secretive and shy, the giant squirrel is indeed a giant among its kind. A rare animal at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, the red furry squirrel is one of the favourites at the zoo.

Endemic

Not a common sight in the wild, this species is endemic to deciduous, mixed deciduous, and moist evergreen forests of peninsular India. Zoo officials are now planning to mate the species to improve their collection.

“It is rarely spotted due to its colour and shy nature. These squirrels have some peculiar characteristics.

During the breeding season, they nest on trees like birds and rear the young ones in the nest,” zoo curator G. Ramalingam said.

Listed in the near threatened species in the IUCN Red List, the squirrel has a conspicuous colour scheme. The head and body of this gorgeous animal varies between 14 and 16 inches.

“The Indian giant squirrel is an upper-canopy dwelling species, which rarely leaves the trees, and requires tall profusely branched trees for the construction of nests,” curator Ramalingam said. It travels from tree to tree with jumps of up to 19 feet.

When in danger, it often freezes or flattens itself against the tree trunk, instead of fleeing and camouflages with the tree trunk.

Its main predators are the birds of prey and the leopard.

A shy and wary animal, the Giant Squirrel is mostly active in the early hours of the morning and in the evening, resting midday.