Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus)

Range Description:

This species is found from Peninsular Malaysia and Thailand to Java, Bali, Lombok, and Borneo (Lekagul and McNeely 1988; Thorington and Hoffmann 2005). It is also widespread on smaller islands. The population on Salajar island, south of Sulawesi, has been introduced possibly from Java (Musser 1987). This species is found from lowland up to 1,500 m.
Countries: Native:
Brunei Darussalam; Indonesia (Bali, Jawa, Kalimantan, Lesser Sunda Is., Sumatera); Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia); Singapore; Thailand.


Main features: Small; head and body 20-25cm, tail about the same length.

These agile squirrels are a beautiful greyish brown, with a chestnut belly and a black-and-white line between the two. In fact, their genus name Callosciurus means Beautiful Squirrels and the genus includes some of the most colourful mammals. This is a medium sized squirrel with olive brown upperparts and solid brown underparts. The tail is olive brown, tipped with red found in the subspecies of Thailand. On the flank there is a narrow there is a narrow black strip which borders the red brown colour of the under parts.Immediatly above this black stripe there is a narrow buff stripe. The female as 2 or 3 pairs of mammae.

 Plantain Squirrels eat mainly fruits and nuts but also snack on insects and other titbits that they come across including birds eggs. They have been known to break open ant plants to eat the ant larvae.
  C. notatus is a very adaptable species, as it is found in secondary forests, plantations, and all kinds of habitats, though not so common in pristine forest (Han pers. comm.). Ancestral habitats appear to be mangroves and major natural disturbances along big rivers (Payne et al. 2005). Now it is very common in towns, scrub, secondary forest, forest edge and urban parks (W. Duckworth et al pers. comm.).
This is a diurnal and arboreal species (Saiful and Nordin 2004), though it does descend to the ground to forage (Han pers. comm.). The diet of this species consists of fruit (42%) and bark 40% (A. Saiful pers. comm.), as well as insects and rubber tree latex (Lekagul and McNeely 1988). The Plantain squirrel (Callosciurus notatus), is also one of several species called the Oriental squirrel or Tricoloured squirrel. It is found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, in a wide range of habitats: forests, mangroves, parks, gardens, agricultural areas. Fruit farmers consider them to be pests.
 Its diet consists mostly of leaves and fruits, but also may include insects and bird eggs. Plantain squirrels are known to break open twigs that contain ant larvae to eat them, and they can eat fruits much bigger than them, such as mangoes, jackfruits or coconuts. They are very quick and agile in trees, able to jump a few meters between trees and rarely wander on the ground. Plantain Squirrels forage mostly in trees and undergrowth and rarely come to the ground. They are active during the day, more so in the morning and evening. They rest in hollow trees and some construct a nest out of leaves and twigs, in tree branches or large bushes. Like other squirrels, they scamper energetically among the undergrowth and trees. To do this, they have good eyesight, sharp claws and a long counterbalancing tail. Plantain Squirrels are very quiet, and often the first sign of their presence is a quick movement seen from the corner of your eye! Role in the habitat: Plantain Squirrels disperse plants by eating their fruits. But they are considered a pest by fruit farmers and coconut plantation owners. They nest throughout the year with the nest being a spherical structure made out an outer wall of twigs and broad leaves lined with fibrous material such a shredded palm spathe, and with a lateral entrance. Litter sizes vary from 1 to 4. The maximum recorded life span in captivity is 9 years and 7 months.

Status and threats:

Plantain Squirrels are fairly common because they have adapted to humans. They are often found in gardens, parks and agricultural areas.. There are no major threats to this species.

Conservation Actions:

It occurs in a number of protected areas across its range and there are no conservation measures needed for this species (W. Duckworth et al. pers. comm.).