Currently, a multi-hued three-foot-long squirrel is taking the internet by storm. Sounds crazy, right? But despite how hard it is to believe these creatures are real! The three foot long squirrels currently taking the internet by storm are no Photoshopped mythical creatures.
These little colorful critters are once again making their rounds on the internet thanks to a series of snapshots posted on Instagram by amateur photographer Kaushik Vijayan. Jason Bittel reports for National Geographic says that these animals can only be found in the forests of southern India. In the words of wildlife conservation biologist John Koprowski, they look “exactly” like the majestic orange-, purple- and maroon-colored animals seen on Vijayan’s feed. It is suggested the photographer may have manipulated the squirrels’ natural coloring by applying a “vibrance” setting. (A filter)
Incredible pictures of giant multi-colored squirrels set social media alight! Photographer Kaushik Vijayan caught the animals in their native habit. The Malabar Giant squirrel is double the size of its grey relatives and lives only the forest of India.
“The four species that make up this group are fascinating in their large size, brilliant coloration, and penchant for feeding on some of the massive tropical fruits in the tree canopy,” Koprowski tells Bittel.
While these companions match the Malabar squirrel in sheer mass, they have decidedly less technicolor coats: Ratufa affinis, found in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, has brown or tan coloring, while Ratufa bicolor, as its name suggests, is mainly black and white. Ratufa also dubbed the Sri Lankan giant squirrel, bears two-toned shades of black and grey.
According to the Independent’s Chiara Giordano, Malabar giant squirrels can measure up to 36 inches, or three feet, from head to tail. Their better-known grey, red and black relatives (such as the friendly eastern greys common across North America) are roughly half this size.
These giant rodents are capable of jumping 20 feet between trees. Which has got to be an amazing sight to see. But this is far from their only special skill: As John Wible, curator of mammals at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, explains to National Geographic’s Bittel, the squirrels create food stores in treetops high above the forest floor. Comparatively, most squirrels hide their seeds and nuts underground.
Vijayan spotted the purple-hued animal in question while visiting a forest in India’s Pathanamthitta District. “I felt so amazed by how drop-dead gorgeous it looked,” he told CBS News’, Christopher Brito. “It was indeed a jaw-dropping sight to behold.”
It remains unclear why the giant creatures boast such vibrant colors. Although these shades provide a boon for nature photographers, they could prove to be a liability in forests where such creatures as lion-tailed macaques, leopards, and crested serpent eagles are on the hunt for hapless rodent prey. McRae posits that the Malabar squirrels’ coloring helps them blend in with the contrasting hues of the forest’s canopic covering, or perhaps attract a mate’s attention. Speaking with Bittel, Koprowski expands on the former theory, noting that their markings may enable squirrels to camouflage themselves among the forest’s “mosaic of sun flecks and dark, shaded areas.”