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Rainbow-coloured squirrels take over the Internet

Tuesday, April 9th 2019, 6:33 pm - Malabar squirrels tend to inhabit broadleaf forests, an ecosystem that consists of both sunny and dark-shaded areas.

Meet the internet’s latest sensation — the rainbow squirrel, otherwise known as the Malabar giant squirrel.

Photos of the animal went viral after photographer Kaushik Vijayan ran into some of the squirrels in the Pathanamthitta District of India, and then posted about them on social media.

The vibrant squirrels are known in South Asia for their beautiful, multi-toned fur which can span from splotches of beige to maroon.

Why is the Malabar’s fur so colorful?

National Geographic asked John Koprowski, a wildlife conservation biologist at the University of Arizona and co-author of the book Squirrels of the World, about the phenomenon.

Malabar giant squirrel (2) by N. A. Naseer

N.A Nasseer/ Creative Commons

VinodBhattu, Wikimedia, CC

Vinod Bhattu/ Wikimedia, Creative Commons

Indian giant squirrel Wikimedia Creative Commons, Arshad.ka5 (1)

Arshad K/ Wikimedia Creative Commons

No one knows for sure, says Koprowski.

He adds that the Malabar’s violet patterns are probably attributed to their ecosystem and play a role in camouflage.

Their habitat which consists of broadleaf forests, creates "a mosaic of sun flecks and dark, shaded areas,” says Koprowski, which resemble the markings on their body.


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