By Anupum Pant
Stories of seemingly harmless little creatures killing other larger, or animals apparently higher in the food chain, have been heard time and again. Like the bird-killing tiger fish is one thing that comes to my mind when I hear something like this. This time we have a squirrel which purportedly kills deer in the woods. Or probably not…
We are talking about the vampire squirrels A.K.A fluffy-tailed tufted ground squirrels of Borneo. The distinctive features of this squirrel is its tail, which I’ll talk about soon. Let’s first see what the local hunters have to say about them.
While the squirrel is not seen a lot, has been photographed only some times and have not been studied extensively, they do have frightening tales tied with their names. Locals who live near the jungles around Borneo tell the terrifying tales of these squirrels.
They say that these relatively tiny rodents have been seen lurking on low hanging branches waiting for their prey. Just when an unsuspecting Muntjac (a small variety of deer) comes grazing, they jump onto them and attack them at their jugular veins. Thereby killing the relatively larger animal and then they feast on their internal organs. Gosh! No wonder they are called Vampire squirrels.
But then these are just stories for now. I excitedly hope they are true though.
The most distinctive parts of their bodies as it can clearly be seen in the image above are their tails. These squirrels now officially have the fluffiest tails of all the animals known to man. On an average, their tails are 30% larger than their whole bodies. That is like having a ~1.5 times sized tail. It is, as researchers say, an “anti-predator mechanism.”