These exotic, giant squirrels with brightly-coloured three-tone fur coats make their British grey and red cousins look pale in comparison.
Malabar Giant squirrels, found deep in the forests of India, have a remarkable patchwork of fur, with colours ranging from beige and tan to shades of brown and rust. They are double the size of their grey relatives, measure up to 36 inches from head to tail and can leap an incredible 20ft between trees.
The exotic squirrels prefer the tops of trees to the ground, foraging for nuts, fruits and flowers far from the ground for safety. ‘In the shaded understory of a dense forest, the patchy colours and dark hues are a great adaptation to avoiding detection,’ John Koprowski, professor at the School of Natural Environment at the University of Arizona, told the Dodo. ‘But when you see these in the sunlight, they show their “true colors” and beautiful pelage [fur].’
Photographer Kaushik Vijayan, 39, snapped the animals in their native habitat to produce a series of stunning images. Vijayan, from Kerala State, India, said: ‘The response I see from the people on social media when I post a picture of the giant squirrels fuels my enthusiasm to go out there. ‘It was when I shared some of the photographs on social media many of my friends and followers came to know about the Malabar Giant Squirrel and they were all amazed by its appearance.
‘Up until that point I had never heard about a squirrel like that or seen one. The sight was an absolute feast for my eyes. The squirrels fascinated me and I got excited to capture this beauty on my camera.’
The amateur wildlife photographer, who works in finance in Saudi Arabia and has over 20,000 followers on Instagram has attracted thousands of likes and comments with the amazing pictures.