Giant Forest Squirrel

Giant Squirrel
Photo: Mammal Watching

Giant Forest Squirrel, Protoxerus stangeri, is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae family typified by their slender bodies, bushy tails and large eyes. Squirrels, called Òkéré in Yoruba, are noted for its undying love for the palm-fruits, and are used as a metaphor for dexterity in Palm Oil production in verbal salute known as oríkì of a certain Arèsà lineage.

The Giant Forest Squirrel evolved from more primitive rodents approximately 36 million years ago when the earth was much warmer and consequently heavily forested. This has been hypothesized to provide arboreal niche, for which the ancestral squirrels became adapted. This animal is found in the lowland forest region of southern Nigeria, and is widely distributed in the whole of west and central Africa. Like many rodents, it is diurnal. Giant squirrels are shy and usually stay high up in the canopy. Their diet mainly consists of fruits and seeds. They are among the most commonly hunted species in Nigeria but may live for up to 5.1 years.

Body length of the Giant squirrel is about 30 cm, the animal being a small one. It is red brown on the back, and has a large grey head, with a broad and flamboyant white and black-banded tail of another 30cm. Weight averages 700 g.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer