As we walked down the hill a large and very distinctive squirrel ventured out onto the path right in front of us. It gave us excellent views but turned and ran back into the undergrowth before any of us could get a photograph. This was a shame as Ron recognised it as a very rare species called the Tufted-eared Ground Squirrel. He said that there had been reports of sightings of this rare species here before, but not for some time and not confirmed with a photograph. Well I had extremely good views. It is very distintive in appearance and there was absolutely no doubt that it was in fact this Ground Squirrel as described in reference scources. The highly tufted ears, striped side and incredibly large bushy grey tail could not be mistaken for anything else.
Very little is known about this animal which is endemic to Borneo and is listed as vulnerable. In fact I could not find a single decent photograph on the internet. There is just the illustration below and one short video clip from a fixed camera trap. A fascinating animal and a great sighting.
- According to local hunters, Borneo’s endemic tufted ground squirrel can kill a deer by dropping down on it from above and tearing out its jugular vein. Once the deer bleeds out, the squirrel proceeds to eat the stomach, heart, and liver, then leaves the rest to rot.
- That rumor, along with research showing that the squirrel may have the largest tail compared to body size of any mammal on the planet, has sparked public interest in the species.