The Tufted Ground Squirrel
The groove-toothed squirrel
Species: Rheithrosciurus macrotis
This species is endemic to the island of Borneo where it lives in the rainforest. They are mostly found in the central part of the island. In the woodland the squirrel mostly walks on the round but it is an excellent climber too.
The adult squirrel gets about 30-40 cm long, and the tail measures further 30 cm. It has vivid coloration: the back is light chocolate color with wide dark-brown stripe running along the yellow-white sides. The cheeks are gray, the front legs have dark “gloves’, the hind legs are bright brown. The belly is white, the tail is dark with white frosting and very bushy. The squirrel’s long ears have red or brown tufts (hence the species’ name).
The tufted ground squirrel, as the name suggests, spends most of its time on the round, though it is a good climber. It makes nests in low tree hollows, among rocks and stones or in driftwood.
It is believed to be a ferocious carnivore that attacks and kills birds, small mammals and even deer and drinks their blood, although this behavior has never been proved scientifically. Therefore it is often called “a vampire squirrel”.
Your squirrel will need a spacious cage, about 60х50х50 cm for one animal. The frame should be made of metal because the squirrel will try to escape. Over the frame you can put a metal net with cells 10-15 sq.mm each. If the cage is outdoors or on the balcony, it is best to make iron duo-pitched roof over it. If the cage is indoors, the roof is not needed. You should have a wheel and a nest outside the cage. The cage must have branches, driftwood and shelves for the animal to move around. The squirrel’s claws row constantly, so if they don’t get milled, they will get too long for the squirrel to move on the floor. At daytime squirrels are always active, they are curious and alternate activities all the time. The shedding period can be difficult: some animals become lethargic and sluggish, others, on the contrary, become too active. Spring shedding in females normally occurs immediately after mating season; in males it starts earlier and lasts until the middle of the summer.
The menu of the tufted ground squirrel in the wild mainly consists of nuts of the canarium tree, fruit, seeds and some insects. They are reputed to be carnivore that attack and eat the intestines of birds and small mammals but so far there has been little or no scientific evidence of this fact.
In captivity squirrels can be fed with nuts, vegetables: spinach, red-headed cabbage, lettuce, endive, turnips, broccoli, celery (leaves and ½ of stem); finely cut fruit: berries, strawberry, raspberry, water melon, raisin, plums, apples and pears. Cereals are only a small part of squirrels’ menu, so you shouldn’t give a lot of them to your pet. Don’t feed the squirrel with cereals bought in a pet store: they contain honey and supplements that are dangerous for squirrels.
Squirrels shed. They are apt escape artists and can run away from a window of any height. Sometimes they don’t get attached to their owner. They can scratch in a very painful way. Squirrels are wild animals, so in captivity they tend to create a lot of problems both for people and for themselves.
Squirrels very rarely get ill, but in captivity they can become very stressed.