Did you know that the Satpura Tiger Reserve is the only tiger reserve in Madhya Pradesh where you get to see the Indian Giant Squirrel or we call this one Nanhi as our mascot? Indian Giant Squirrel or Malabar Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica) has four different subspecies; the one we get here is called (Ratufa indica centralis). It is a big squirrel with a wine red upper body with creamy white underpart and a reddish-brown tail with a white tip. This is a highly arboreal species. These squirrels are found throughout Satpura tiger reserve. But mostly they are seen where there are tall trees. You see them solitary or in pairs. They are quite territorial.
It’s a thrilling sight to see them chasing each other from one tree to another. A pair can make several nests on the treetop in one area and some of them are used as a nursery, some of them are used as roosting places or some of them are used to fool the predators. You see them leaping from one tree to another frequently in search of food.
According to the flowering or fruiting season they have been seen on those trees. After the monsoon, their diet consists of soft bark of Tendu, Sàaj, Kasai. Eventually, soft seeds inside the hard winged fruit of Saaj mostly go for that till winter. Also, you see them on Amla and Bheel quite often.
When Red Silk Cotton Flowers are coming with spring, you mostly find them along with other visitors on the treetop. They are highly skilled at eating their food hanging upside down. They turn their hind claws like a hook to hang from the tree trunk and skillfully hold the food with foreclaws. When the sun is there in the nippy winter mornings, it’s the time when they come out from their Drey. But when it’s too hot in the midday you might see them dozing off on a branch with all the four legs loosened out and with the hanging tail. Their loud metallic click.. click… call is very distinguished when they feel threatened or alert by any predators. Indian Giant Squirrel is mostly preyed on by Crested Hawk Eagle. Which mostly prey on smaller mammals like Rhesus Macaque, Langur, Indian Hare, etc. This is the species that need big trees and woodlands, so we have to protect these woodlands otherwise we will lose the habitat of this majestic, curious creature.
Satpura marks as Northern extremities of this and several other species and is the only place to find Indian Giant Squirrel in Madhya Pradesh.