Amongst the World’s Smallest Squirrels: The Bornean Least Pygmy Squirrel (Exilisciurus exilis)

A Squirrel No Larger Than a Mouse

Zipping about high in the trees of the lower Kinabatangan rainforest lives a tiny squirrel. No larger than a mouse, it is less than 8cm in body length and weighs less than 20g.

DSC_1485Click to zoom in


Up the Canopy Platform

A platform has been attached to a tree between the main building and the bunk house at Danau Girang Field Centre that allows visitors and researchers the opportunity to look out through canopy. It was from this canopy platform that we first observed the pygmy squirrels.

We noticed two small squirrels spiralling around a tree. They scampered at remarkable speeds up and down the tree trunks and hung on the vertical surfaces with ease.


An Even Closer Observation

Later that day on the same tree that Emma and I had climbed that morning, I noticed yet another pygmy squirrel. This time it was at eye level. I proceeded to take several snaps of the little fella who remained still for several minutes before disappearing in a flash back up the tree trunk.

Exilisciurus exilis [LEAST PYGMY SQUIRREL] Sabah, Borneo 12-10-2017 (9)
Click to zoom in

Click to zoom in


Photobombed!

Several weeks later whilst thinking about writing this post and editing the photographs, I noticed someone else in a few of the images.

See if you can spot the photobomber who appears in both the following photos. I will reveal the answer below…

Exilisciurus exilis [LEAST PYGMY SQUIRREL] Sabah, Borneo 12-10-2017.jpg
Click to zoom in

Exilisciurus exilis [LEAST PYGMY SQUIRREL] Sabah, Borneo 12-10-2017 (2).jpg
Click to zoom in

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The photobomber is a very well camouflaged frilled tree frog (Kurixalus appendiculatus)!

The front part of the frog’s body can be seen towards the bottom-right of the first image. The entire frog can be seen to the right of the squirrel in the second image.

I had no idea the frog was even there until I was editing the photos. The images really do highlight how little the least pygmy squirrel really is.


Pygmy Squirrel Facts

  • All squirrels are rodents of the family Sciuradae. Sciuradae is derived from the Greek words ‘skia’ (shadow) and ‘oura’ (tail). Presumably because their large fluffy tails cast a vast shadow over their bodies. That being said their is nothing vast about our pygmy squirrel!

 

  • A squirrel baby is called a ‘pup’, ‘kit’ or ‘kitten’. The females are called a ‘doe’ and males a ‘buck’. A squirrel group is called a ‘dray’ or ‘scurry’.

 

  • The Bornean least pygmy squirrel (Exilisciurus exilis) is one of three species in the Exilisciurus genus. The other two species are the Philippine pygmy squirrel (E. concinnus) and the Bornean tufted pygmy squirrel (E. whiteheadi).

 

  • The least pygmy squirrels are bark gleaners, meaning they consume bark and associated lichen.

 

  • The least pygmy squirrel is diurnal, meaning that it is active during the day.

 

  • Although Borneo has some of the smallest of squirrels, such as our least pygmy squirrel (Exilisciurus exilis) which is up to 8cm long and 20g in weight, Borneo is also home to the cream-coloured giant squirrel (Ratufa affinis) with an overall length of up to 78.8cm, weighing up to 1.6kg. That’s 80x larger that the pygmies!

Exilisciurus exilis [LEAST PYGMY SQUIRREL] Sabah, Borneo 12-10-2017 (4)
Click to zoom in


Want to read more?

Check out our other squirrel post from earlier this year at Brownsea Island in England:

Zoomology Red Squirrels


References and Further Reading

Borneopost Website,  Insular squirrels – http://www.theborneopost.com/2017/03/12/insular-squirrels/

Ecology Asia Website, Bornean pygmy squirrel – http://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/mammals/bornean-pygmy-squirrel.htm
(Retrieved 02 December, 2017)

IUCN Redlist Website, Bornean pygmy squirrel – http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/8437/0
(Retrieved 02 December, 2017)

Wikipedia Website, Cream-coloured_giant_squirrel – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cream-coloured_giant_squirrel
(Retrieved 02 December, 2017)

Wikipedia Website, Exilisciurus – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exilisciurus
(Retrieved 02 December, 2017)

Wikipedia Website, Least pygmy squirrel – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Least_pygmy_squirrel
(Retrieved 02 December, 2017)

 

 

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Wow! That is amazing camouflage on the part of the tree frog! Interesting post on the squirrel, it really is tiny!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’re happy you enjoyed the post, Helen! Yes, I still can’t get over the camouflage myself. We honestly didn’t even notice it until the other day when Tom was editing the images which was a month after the actual observation!

      -Emma

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pete Hillman says:

    Fabulous images of this amazing squirrel! I can see an amazing frog of some kind in both images, and a very tiny spider in the top image just down from the squirrel’s splayed paw.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Pete! I can’t believe it took so long for us to spot the frog! 😛 It is definitely a testament to its amazing camouflage.
      Ha! There is indeed a little spider! Just as I was about to read your comment to Tom, he also exclaimed the same thing. 😀 Fab spotting, guys! Now I’m wondering what else is hiding in our photos…

      -Emma

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fotohabitate says:

    It’s a fantastic camouflage!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is, isn’t it?! 😀

      -Emma

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Graham says:

    Fantastic! How cute is that!?! Love the little frog too, I thought it might be a gecko before I looked at the second image. I find it interesting how certain types of species seem to have public support almost by default…we seem to love ducks 🦆 , squirrels and ladybirds 🐞 (and many more I guess). I kind of miss squirrels in NZ…not that I’d want them here as that mistake has been made so many times here already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Graham! Super cute indeed. 😀 It’s true… there are definitely the more socially acceptable animals to like, and then those that aren’t. Many invertebrates seem to have drawn the short straw, although – like you said – most people have a fondness for ladybirds. I wonder why ladybirds are different? Maybe because of the association with them predating aphids on roses or something?

      -Emma

      Like

      1. Graham says:

        Maybe so. Mystery. 😄 I love watching Praying Mantis when I see them in NZ. Fascinating.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. blhphotoblog says:

    Great shots Tom, a real cutie (unlike our imported greys)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Brian. 🙂

      -Tom

      Like

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