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PALLAS'S SQUIRREL

PALLAS'S SQUIRREL AKA RED-BELLIED TREE SQUIRREL (Callosciurus erythraeus) A native to Greater China but not Hong Kong, where the local population has been introduced, probably as escaped pets, it has managed to occupy an empty ecological niche. In 1994 C.Y. Ho studies suggested that there were two subspecies: the thai subspecies (mainly found on HK island) and the styani in the New Territories. A squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing, and to prevent those four teeth from getting too long, squirrels must frequently gnaw on things (the same is true of other rodents... in fact, "rodent" is derived from "rodere" in Latin, which means "to gnaw"). Mainly solitary, they are territorial and rarely interact with one another. Predators of squirrels include the crested goshawk and common rat snake in Hong Kong. SEE THEM: Urban Widespread, particularly on HK Island; Bowen Rd and HK Park are hotspots. Also widespread in NT including Tai Po Kau forest. Look for them during the Bauhinia flower blooming season (November to March) high atop the lovely branches. SPECIES ID: Brown with an orange belly and a large bushy tail. A great climber.


The lovely red-bellied tree squirrel - or just "a rat in a cuter outfit"?hmmmm, it was the character Carrie Bradshaw who said that on a “Sex and the City” episode, and I do not think animals, nature or the environment were her key pre-occupations!

Pallas's squirrels are primarily herbivorous.

Fascinating facts:

1. SQUIRRELS ARE RODENTS.

They’re members of the family Sciuridae, which includes small- and medium-sized rodents like tree squirrels, ground squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks and prairie dogs. This one was eating fallen fruit in Lion's Park SaiKung, and I have often seen them around The Matilda Hospital on the Peak.

2. A SQUIRREL’S FRONT TEETH DON’T STOP GROWING.

To prevent those four teeth from getting too long, squirrels must frequently gnaw on things. (The same is true of other rodents. In fact, “rodent” is derived from “rodere” in Latin, which means: to gnaw.)

3. OTHER SQUIRRELS (AND BIRDS) STEAL A QUARTER OF A SQUIRREL’S HIDDEN FOOD.

Squirrels can also have difficulty keeping track of their buried stash.

4. SQUIRRELS USE SOMETHING CALLED “DECEPTIVE CACHING” TO DETER THIEVES.

Squirrels will sometimes cleverly pretend to bury nuts by digging a hole and then covering it up with nothing inside.

5. SQUIRRELS HAVE POWERFUL SENSES OF SMELL.

6. SQUIRRELS ARE NOT SOCIAL ANIMALS.

They are territorial and rarely interact with one another.

7. SQUIRRELS RUN IN A UNIQUE PATTERN TO ESCAPE PREDATORS.

Running (even along tree branches) in a zigzag pattern makes it more difficult for squirrels to be snatched by hawks and other animals.

8. THERE ARE NO SQUIRRELS IN AUSTRALIA.

But there are more than 200 species all over the rest of the world. In 2016 the Pallas's squirrel was on a hit list of 37 invasive species drawn up by the European Union banning them from being brought into the UK .

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