Thai National Parks

Mammals of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Cream-coloured giant squirrel

Binomial name: Ratufa affinis, Thomas Stamford Raffles, 1821

The cream-coloured giant squirrel (Ratufa affinis) is a large tree squirrel in the genus Ratufa found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. It is probably extinct in Singapore, as no recent sightings have been made. Reported sightings in Vietnam in 1984 are considered to be dubious.

Description

Along with its large size, this squirrel's colorful markings, that vary widely from one individual to the next, makes it readily-identifiable and easily-spotted in the wild. The back and head of the body varies from dark brown to gray, and the belly varies from dark yellow to white. The ears are short and round. The adult squirrel's head and body is from 322 to 350 mm in length, and the tail is 373 to 438 mm long, with an overall length of 695 to 788 mm; the weight is between 929 to 1575 g.

Habitat

This species is the only giant squirrel in Borneo (elsewhere its distribution overlaps with that of the black giant squirrel). It is one of the mammal species found in the extensive Belum-Temengor forest preserve in the Malaysian state of Perak, on the Malay Peninsula.

The cream-coloured giant squirrel makes its home in lower montane and secondary forests, frequenting dipterocarp trees. It rarely enters plantations or settlements, preferring the forest. Although this squirrel primarily inhabits the upper canopy of the forest, it will at times come to ground in order to hunt smaller species of squirrels, or to cross gaps in the trees.

Behaviour

This species is diurnal, active during morning and evening. They live either in pairs or alone. When it is angry or shocked, it will give a loud sound that can be heard from afar.

Although this squirrel often will make holes in trees for shelter, during the breeding season it constructs a large globular drey (or nest) in tree branches, roughly the size of an eagle’s aerie. The young are born and raised in this nest.

The main dietary habits of Ratufa affinis are seeds, which it supplements with leaves, fruits, nuts, bark, insects, and eggs. The squirrel has a very short thumb that it uses to hold and control its food while feeding.

Unlike other tree squirrels, the cream-coloured giant squirrel does not sit upright with its tail arched over its back while feeding; instead, it balances itself with its hind feet on a branch so that its hands are free to control its food. In this position the axis of the squirrels body is held at right angles to the support, with its head and forequarters on one side of the branch, and the tail as a counterweight on the other side.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Rodentia
Family
Sciuridae
Genus
Ratufa
Species
Ratufa affinis

Common names

  • English:
    • Cream-coloured giant squirrel
    • Pale giant squirrel
  • French:
    • Écureuil de raffles
    • Écureuil géant commun
    • Ratufe dorée

Conservation status

Near Threatened (IUCN3.1)

Near Threatened (IUCN3.1)

Range map of Ratufa affinis in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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