With so many different species of animals throughout the world, it’s impossible to be an expert on all of them.
But thankfully, the internet has given us a wonderful way to learn about things we may never lay our own eyes on in person.
An amateur photographer had no idea that when he shared his photos from a trip to India, he’d be teaching people about an animal. Many have never heard of Malabar giant multicolored squirrels, but now plenty are obsessed with the exotic creature.
Kaushik Vijayan was visiting an Indian forest when he first spotted the majestic animals.
Their unusual colors are what makes them so fascinating to look at. The squirrels are black, brown, red, orange, maroon, and purple. He captured some pictures of the pretty critters, which he had also never heard of. He shared the photos to Instagram, where they started going viral.
“The squirrels fascinated me and I got excited to capture this beauty on my camera,” he told SWNS.
These bright, beautiful squirrels look nothing like the ones you’re used to seeing. They are Malabar giant squirrels.
These squirrels are two times the size of an eastern gray squirrel, according to the Dodo. They are about 36 inches from head to tail.
They are locally known as shekru. Their fur features vivid colors, such as maroon and purple, that you don’t usually see in mammals.
Kaushik Vijayan had never heard of the animals before seeing them in an Indian forest.
“The sight was an absolute feast for my eyes,” the amateur photographer told SWNS.
Kaushik captured the photos in Pathanamthitta District in the southern state of Kerala.
“The squirrels fascinated me and I got excited to capture this beauty on my camera,” he explained.
The squirrels’ beautiful coloring has an evolutionary purpose.
As squirrel expert John Koprowski explained to the Dodo, “In the shaded understory of a dense forest, the patchy colors and dark hues are a great adaptation to avoiding detection.”
The vibrancy and variety of the animal’s colors can be seen in the sun. They’re also very flexible animals.
The squirrels are found only in eastern and southern India. While they aren’t in immediate danger of extinction, populations are dwindling.
“The real threat is the slow loss and degradation of forested habitats as humans move in and as climate change impacts higher elevation areas,” the squirrel expert explained.
Many animals have faced similar challenges as populations grow.
But there’s still hope for the squirrels.
As expert Koprowski put it, “The good news is that they have a wide distribution and seem to tolerate human presence and even some modest level of low-density housing.”
The squirrels are believed to be shy, so it’s great that Kaushik got the opportunity to see them. He didn’t see just one of these squirrels, but two interacting playfully.
Kaushik shared his shots of the beautiful animals on Instagram, where they instantly began going viral. It’s been inspirational for the amateur wildlife photographer.
“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,” he explained.
It certainly makes you think about appreciating the beauty that nature has to offer!