Borneo’s adorable vampire squirrel is threatened by deforestation
It’s an age-old nerd debate: Do vampires melt in the daytime, sparkle in the sunlight, or have an adorable wooly tail? The dreaded tufted ground squirrel, the blood-swilling, tree-born nut lover of the Bornean forests seen in this rare video, finally gives us the answer: It’s the tail.
Erik Stokstad with Science magazine sheds more light on these deep-woods draculas and their ferociously furry backsides:
Few scientists have ever seen the rare tufted ground squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis), which hides in the hilly forests of Borneo, but it is an odd beast. It’s twice the size of most tree squirrels, and it reputedly has a taste for blood. Now, motion-controlled cameras have revealed another curious fact. The 35-centimeter-long rodent has the bushiest tail of any mammal compared with its body size.
This ridiculous rodent has either been gifted or cursed with a tail 30 percent larger than its body earning it the nickname, “J-Lo squirrel.” [Editor’s note: The author just made that up.] No one is sure what use the tail serves, but Emily Mae Meijaard, the 15-year-old daughter of the conservation scientists who collected images for a recent tail-to-body-size comparison, believes it may work to confuse predators. Fitting, as everything about this overly fluffy arboreal nosferatu is confusing.
Tragically, this unique creature is under threat, along with the rest of the great forests of Borneo. Logging and agriculture have already shrunk these massive woodlands, and projections estimate they could be all but gone in less than 20 years. When the forests go, so will the squirrels. And it will be a sad world when the only place left to find vampires is California.