Tufted Ground Squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis)
Many of the squirrels appear quite similar, but can usually be identified based on differences in colour patterns if they are seen clearly. Conditions are rarely ideal, though, and many ground squirrels are glimpsed only briefly in dim light, while tree squirrels are often obscured by leaves or sihouetted against the sky. Binoculars are helpful for viewing squirrels, and many species, with the exception of giant and pygmy squirrels, can be trapped fairly easily in cage traps for closer study.
The Shrew-faced Ground Squirrel, Rhinosciurus laticaudatus, could be mistaken at a distance for a Tupaia treeshrew because of its pointed muzzle, but can be distinguished by its shorter bushy tail.
Measurements: HB 335-352, T 299-342, HF 81-88 (7 specimens) Wt 1170-1280g/kg.
Identification: Upperparts very dark brown, with a blackish and pale stripe on each side of the body; underparts pale grey-buff. Tufts on hair on the tips of the ears. Large, bushy, grizzled tail, held high when the squirrel is active, distinguishes this squirrel from all other Borneo mammals - when glimpsed briefly in the forest, the tail may even give the impression of a larger animal such as a small pig running away.
Ecology and Habitat: Diurnal. Found primarily on the ground or lower tree trunks, but sometimes feeds in tall trees. The few observations available suggest a diet of fruit and seeds. This squirrel is rarely seen and seems to occur in small numbers even under optimum conditions. Most often encountered on steep slopes. Most records are from tall dipterocarp forests, but also recorded in old orchards and recently logged forest.
Distribution: Confined to Borneo. Known from many scattered localities throughout the island. Most records are from hills, up 1070 m on Usun Apau in Sarawak.