squirrel extermination

Endangered Squirrels in Singapore

No matter how common squirrels might seem, there are squirrel species which have become endangered because of either human activities or natural calamities. Natural calamities include wildfires, storms, earthquakes and the like while human activities are mostly related to logging, land development, hunting, etc. According to "Singapore Red Data Review" published in 2008, many of the squirrels that live in the country are already critically endangered or they are in the brink of possible extinction. Examples of these squirrels are:

1. The Cream-colored Giant Squirrel

These squirrels are classified as the largest of all the squirrels found around the world. They can grow to as high as 38 centimetres when standing on both hind legs with a total tail length of 44 centimetres. The average weight of a giant squirrel in about 1 Kilogram but some can weigh up to 2 Kilogram or more. It was officially named and described in 1821 by a scientist named Stamford Raffles after an incident report of a local spotting "many" giant squirrels in the woods of Singapore. However, the squirrel is believed to have been already popular among the locals since it is already sold for meat and as a pet in the early 1960s.

The giant squirrel is also diurnal like its cousins, which means that most of its activities happen during the day. It looks for food in tropical forests and rarely come down trees. These squirrels are also omnivores but their diet mostly comprises of fruits and plant matters. But, they also feed on small insects to accompany their vegetarian diet. Although they are mostly creamy in color, their upper body parts are brown.

These squirrels are not only found in Singapore, in fact, three other countries are known to host these squirrels, and these are: Thailand, Borneo and Indonesia. Even in Singapore, these squirrels do not just live everywhere. Since 1995, it was found out that these squirrels have become exclusively found in Bukit Timah and the "Central Catchment Reserves of Singapore". According to an official estimate, only 10 Cream-colored Giant Squirrels remain to live in the wild.

2. Shrew-faced Ground Squirrels

Unlike the first one, these squirrels are seldom found on trees since they live on the floor of the forests. They feed on the earthworms, termites and beetles that are very common on forest beds. They also eat other insects and ants. Being a typical ground squirrel, they also live in solitary and secretive life. They do not like to associate with other animals although most of these activities happen during the day when other animals are also active. They got their name from the likeness of their long and pointed snout to the Tree Shrew which is also a type of a mammal. Their front teeth are obviously smaller than the other squirrels, giving them the appearance that is almost very distinct from their relatives. They have white colored under parts and dark brown upper bodies. They measure about 23 centimetres in length with a tail that measures about 17 centimetres.

Back in the 1900s, these squirrels have been reported to be abundant in the Changi jungle found in Singapore but at present, these squirrels have become extremely rare that they are now just found in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

3. Red Giant Flying Squirrel

These squirrels are called giants for a reason: they are huge! They can measure up to 46 centimetres in body length alone and their tails can be as long as 50 centimetres, Their natural habitat is the forest and they make their nests in the cavities that develop in tall trees. They eat fruits and shoots alone. These squirrels are nocturnal, unlike the other squirrels. It means that they are most active during evening. Moreover, these squirrels do not explore the forests alone. They always move in pairs and they travel from one tree to another by "flying". They do that by gliding through the air using their "wings" which is mostly an extended skin that occurs between their limbs. They have reddish-brown bodies, but some may have black tails, ears, noses and limbs.

They are mostly found in many parts of Asia such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, China, Pakistan, Borneo and India. In the 20th century, these squirrels were classified as common, meaning there are extremely many squirrels of this kind that live in the wild and these can be kept as pers. However, as the 20th century ends, these squirrels began to disappear rapidly, causing the Singaporean government to panic over possible extinction. The last sightings of the squirrel in the wild were in 1986. There by Red Giant Flying Squirrels kept in reserves, these squirrels are carefully bred for possible release to the wild. But that scenario would not happen any time soon.

4. Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel

These squirrels are really small, considering that its full body length is only 18.4 centimetres. Its tail can be as long as 16.6 centimetres. It is also nocturnal like the other flying squirrels that are known to us. They also in in the forest and inhabit tree cavities that they make or they steal from woodpeckers. They have long tails which look more like a feather. They also have rounded head and snout bodies. Their normal color is grey-brown or rusty-brown with some white or orange markings all throughout their bodies. Their tail is basically orange in color and its cheeks seem orange-brown or reddish-grey.

These squirrels are native to Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. However, in 1996, it was found out that this squirrel has already become exclusive to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

What Endangers these Squirrels?

The real reason why these squirrels slowly fade into extinction is the loss of their natural habitats. Because of the rapid urbanization which is very apparent in Singapore that has a very limited space, many squirrels are pushed to live in forests which are not really their natural habitats. As a result, the population of these squirrels start to decrease until too few of them are able to survive.
squirrel extermination