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The Indian giant squirrel, also known as the Malabar giant squirrel, is a large species of tree squirrel that is only found in India. The state animal of the Indian state of Maharashtra is known as’shekru’ in Marathi. Giant squirrels are nearly three feet long from tip to tail and appear far too large to be squirrels.

Classification of Indian Giant Squirrel

Common NameIndian giant squirrel
Local NameShekru
Zoological NameRatufa Indica
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderRodentia
FamilySciuridae
GenusRatufa

Habit and Habitat of State Animal of Maharashtra Indian Giant Squirrel

  • They prefer mixed deciduous and moist evergreen forests, as well as tropical and rain forests. They are arboreal, spending the majority of their time in trees.
  • The Indian giant squirrel is an omnivore, eating fruits, flowers, nuts, bark, bird eggs, and insects. They prefer to build their nests in tall, densely branched trees.
  • It usually remains high in the forest canopy, never leaving the trees. This squirrel can jump from tree to tree by using its long tail for stability.
  • The Giant Squirrel’s large tails help it balance and move quickly, running and jumping on surprisingly thin branches high in the forest.
  • They are naturally wary and shy. They either live alone or in pairs. They travel from tree to tree, jumping up to six times.
  • Breeding occurs all year, or at least several times a year. During the breeding season, males actively compete for females, and pairs may stay together for extended periods of time.

Identification Of Indian Giant Squirrel

  • They have underside white fur and range in color from brown to dark red. A white spot can be found between the ears. 
  • Indian giant squirrels have a 2-foot tail (61 cm).
  • Because of their shy nature, they are difficult to spot in the wild.
  • They are a noisy species, and their territorial calls are loud and staccato-like vocalisations that last several minutes before fading into softer chirps.
  • They eat flowers, fruits, bark, seeds, nuts, bird eggs, and insects and are omnivorous.
  • They are essential for seed dispersal.
  • These animals prefer to have their own nests rather than share them with their young.

Indian Giant Squirrel Size and Comparison

Male and female Indian Giant squirrels differ in size because they are the largest squirrels in India. Males measure approximately 75 cm from head to tail (Head to body – 34 cm and Tail – 41cm approx), whereas females measure approximately 78 cm from head to tail (Head to body – 36 cm and Tail length – 42 cm approx). Even the most commonly seen Three-striped palm squirrel (Head to tail 30 cm) is three times smaller than Giant squirrels.

Mating and Reproduction

The Indian giant squirrel’s mating season lasts from October to January. Males compete for the right to mate with one female, with the victor having first dibs on copulation. He prevents his competitors from engaging with the female for at least a few hours after copulation in order to improve his chances of paternity. The female eventually copulates with the subordinate male. After a gestation period of 21-25 days, a litter of a single pup is born.

State Animal of Maharashtra – FAQs

What is the local name of the Indian giant squirrel in Maharashtra?

Indian Giant Squirrel is locally called Shekru in Maharashtra.

What is the height of the Indian Giant Squirrel?

The male height from head to tail is 75 cm and the female 78 cm.

What is the zoological name of the Indian giant squirrel?

The zoological Name is Ratufa Indica.

What is the habitat of Ratufa Indica?

They prefer tropical and rain forests, as well as mixed deciduous and moist evergreen forests. They are arboreal, meaning they spend the majority of their time in trees.

In which season Indian Giant Squirrel mate?

The mating season of the Indian Giant Squirrel is from October to January.