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Callosciurus prevostii (Desmarest, 1822)
by Ms. Nur Afikah Abd Shukor
Newsletter
Callosciurus prevostii (Desmarest, 1822)
by Ms. Nur Afikah Abd Shukor

Prevost's Squirrel is a diurnal, medium-sized, arboreal squirrel scientifically known as Callosciurus prevostii (Lurz et al., 2017). It is the largest squirrel of Callosciurus species (Baker, 2021). The genus word, “Callosciurus” give a meaning of beautiful squirrel. It is found in Malaysia, southern Thailand, Borneo and nearby islands (Lurz et al., 2017).

Like its general features, Callosciurus prevostii is also known as Asian Tricolored Squirrel or Tupai Asia Tiga Warna in Malay. This species can easily be identified by the tricolored body pattern with black upperparts and dark reddish underparts together with white stripes along the sides (Lurz et al., 2017). Callosciurus prevostii has an arboreal and diurnal behavior, where they are active during the day and sometimes will descend to the ground from the tree canopy to cross the gaps (Francis et al., 2019). Callosciurus prevostii communicates with each other through touch or smell. In addition, the male chases the female before mating, by emitting squeaking sounds loudly and the female will respond to the squealing along with screeches to show her reaction (Lurz et al., 2017).

According to Hoffman (2003), the breeding season for Callosciurus prevostii takes place all year, but it peaks from June to August. Besides, the pregnancy rate broadly connected to the amount of rainfall in central Malaysia. Although the newborn Callosciurus prevostii are altricial and hairless, the pigmentation of the black back and dark reddish belly can be seen at 14 days of age (Lurz et al., 2017). The maximum lifespan of Callosciurus prevostii is 21.1 years in captivity.

Callosciurus prevostii mostly consumes coconut, rubber seeds, oil palm fruit and other soft fruits, such as figs (Hoffman, 2003). The fruit seeds will be dispersed on the ground and new plants will grow in different areas. Other than consuming sweet fruit, the Prevost's Squirrel also eats insects like termites, ants and beetles, which were dug from decaying wood. It occurs in the high and secondary forests. Prevost's Squirrel breaks into gardens and plantations to feed on fruits from nearby forests (Francis & Barrett, 2019).

Callosciurus prevostii is categorized as least concern (LC) by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Cassola, 2016) due to the most common and widespread in a variety of protected areas. Also, it can be tolerant of certain degrees of habitat change. However, there is a very limited surviving area in this lowland ecosystem. Plantations have absorbed a large portion of its natural range. This kind of Prevost's Squirrel is extensively hunted for pets trade in Sarawak (Cassola, 2016).

References

  1. Baker, N. (2021). Ecology Asia: Prevost's Squirrel (Callosciurus prevostii). Retrieved February 01, 2021, from https://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/mammals/prevost's_squirrel.htm
  2. Cassola, F. (2016). Callosciurus prevostii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T3603A22253650. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Retrieved January 15, 2021, from http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T3603A22253650.en
  3. Francis, C.M. (2019). Field Guide to the Mammals of South-east Asia (2nd Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 416.
  4. Hoffman, H. (2003). Callosciurus prevostii. Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved January 15, 2021, from http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Callosciurus_prevostii/
  5. Lurz, P.W.W., Fielding, I. & Hayssen, V. (2017). Callosciurus prevostii (Rodentia: Sciuridae). Mammalian Species 49 (945): pp. 40-50
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