Urban Mammals: Squirrels and Treeshrews

plantain squirrel on a tree trunk

Plantain squirrel (Callosciurus notatus)

Local name: Tupai kampong, tupai kampong, tupai merah, tupai pinang

Description:

  • Identified by two cream and black stripes on the sides of its body
  • Commonly mistaken for the common treeshrew (Tupaia glis) but the  plantain squirrel has a bushier tail and a more rounded face than the common tree shrew.
  • Extremely agile in trees. In the city, it is easy to spot them running on cable wires between electric poles to cross from one place to another. They do this because there are no natural bridges (like overlapping branches of many trees) for them to cross.
  • Feed mainly on fruits such as jackfruits and mangoes

Activity pattern: Diurnal

Ecological function: Seed disperser

Level in food chain: Primary and secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: Omnivore

Food items: Fruits, sometimes insects

Microhabitat: Shrubs and tree holes

tree shrew, Tupaia glis

Common treeshrew (Tupaia glis)

Local name: Kenchong, kencong, tupai muncong besar, tupai muncung besar, tupai moncong besar

Description:

  • Reddish-orange brown to olive-brown fur
  • Commonly mistaken for the plantain squirrel however, the long and pointed snout indicates that it is a treeshrew.
  • Agile in trees but more often found on the ground
  • Territorial – They frequently scent-mark their territories. When two tree shrews are chasing one another, it is an aggressive territorial chase.

Activity pattern: Diurnal

Ecological function: Seed disperser

Level in food chain: Primary and secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: Omnivore

Food items: Insects and fruits

Microhabitat: Shrubs and tree holes