Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Nagarahole

Siva AN
Siva AN

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Indian giant flying squirrels are nocturnal, and are rarely seen in the day. Small cats, leopards and large raptors, including crested serpent and hawk eagles, are all known predators of giant flying squirrels.

We were on a morning drive at the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve and we heard very loud and repeated alarm calls of spotted deer. We waited there for a few mins and we see this flying squirrel crouched on the base of the tree motionless. It was just beside the safari track. We left the place and came back to the same place after about 25 mins. Only the animal’s bushy tail was visible. Later it was gone. A very rare encounter!

Squirrel specialist Nandini Rajamani, who has extensively studied giant squirrels in the wild, commented on this behaviour:

Indian giant flying squirrels (Petaurista philippensis) are nocturnal, and are rarely seen in the day. However, sleeping animals will respond to loud sounds, disturbance or predators who enter the hollow. Their first instinct is usually to leave the hollow and glide off the tree rather than run up it, and in the process some animals might fall or get injured. Maybe the arrival of the safari vehicle thwarted one such predator attempt, allowing a dazed or possibly injured flying squirrel to slowly get back into its hollow. The alarm calls of the deer support the possibility of a predator attack.

Small cats, leopards and large raptors, including crested serpent and hawk eagles are all known predators of giant flying squirrels.

When I was a volunteer at a WCS project walking transects in Nagarahole, I remember Dr. Ullas Karanth showing me a flying squirrel foot lying on the forest floor at the base of a tree, possibly from a raptor attack. I also remember Dr. Samba Kumar telling me that he once saw a crested serpent eagle predating on a giant flying squirrel in Nagarahole during the day.

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About the author

Siva AN

Siva is a Bangalore-based wildlife photographer.



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