These Giant, Colorful Squirrels Are The Most Beautiful Rodents We’ve Ever Seen

These are not your average squirrels!

You might not normally think of squirrels as beautiful. They are usually grey or brown, and they are rodents, after all. But that’s because you likely haven’t seen the Malabar giant squirrel, also known as the Indian giant squirrel. These critters can be 36 inches long, which is more than double the size of the grey squirrels you are likely to see in the U.S. But most impressively, Malabar giant squirrels have beautiful, multicolored fur, including shades of black, brown, orange, maroon and purple.

Indian giant squirrels mostly live in eastern or southern India, and can be difficult to spot due to their camouflage and the fact that they tend to hop from tree to tree. According to a 2007 study in the journal Ecoscience, they have been known to hoard seeds in nests they build in the treetops.

John Koprowski, professor and associate director at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona, is a squirrel expert. He first saw a Malabar giant squirrel during a trip to India in 2006.

“In the shaded understory of a dense forest, the patchy colors and dark hues are a great adaptation to avoiding detection,” Koprowski told The Dodo. “But when you see these in the sunlight, they show their ‘true colors’ and beautiful pelage [fur].”

Check out this cool photo of an Indian giant squirrel:

Wow! It’s hard to believe that those colors come from nature.

This species is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s designated list of least concern, meaning they are not in imminent danger of going extinct, but their population has been in decline nonetheless due to the destruction of their forest habitat. Protection laws would help them thrive in the future.

Their beautiful colors are so eye-catching that last year, the squirrels became inspiration for people seeking new hues to dye their hair after one was photographed in the Anchankovil forest in Kerala. We can totally see why these creatures are so inspiring!

giant indian squirrel photo
Flickr | Soumyadeep Chatterjee .

It would appear that these giant squirrels aren’t too afraid of humans, either. Check out this video footage of one enjoying a cookie:

Does the Malabar giant squirrel totally change how you’ll look at squirrels forever?