Five-striped Squirrels Are Voracious Insect Eaters

Five-striped Squirrels Are Voracious Insect Eaters

On 20th July 1989, there was a light shower in Udaipur at around 4 o’clock in the evening which lasted for around half an hour. Thereafter the sky remained overcast with drops of water falling here and there until nightfall. Probably it was the first monsoon season shower in Udaipur that year.

 

Five-striped Squirrels Are Voracious Insect Eaters

On 20th July 1989, there was a light shower in Udaipur at around 4 o’clock in the evening which lasted for around half an hour. Thereafter the sky remained overcast with drops of water falling here and there until nightfall. Probably it was the first monsoon season shower in Udaipur that year.

In my compound there are two trees of Sitafal (Anona squamosa). At the base of these trees there were two holes from which the winged as well as normal termites started emerging at half past four.

 Seven Five-striped Squirrels gathered near the tress and started devouring winged termites. They leaped into the air to catch the low flying termites. They precisely caught the termites by their wings and after consuming the body threw the wings away. Hundreds of termites went on emerging from the holes.

After sometime the squirrels found the source and took up their position near the hole. As soon as the winged or normal termites emerged, they would catch and eat them. They fought bitterly among themselves to keep up their strategic positions near the hole. This lasted till dusk.

 In front of my room at Panchwati, Udaipur, there is platform. On 31st July 1989, around 5 PM we were sitting on this platform. Two columns of black ants emerged from the kitchen and crawled on this platform diagonally with their eggs in their mouths.

A Five-striped Squirrel came on the platform. It went at the edge of the platform and started devouring ants from that end towards which they were moving. Within a very short time the squirrel licked away all the ants of the columns from end to end.

 After a while the ants again started transporting the eggs. I counted the ants; the average number of the ants in an inch was six. The length of the columns was 24 ft. and as there were two columns moving parallel to each other, the total number of ants on the platform at the time of squirrel’s attach were about 3456. The squirrel ate at least 3456 ants in a very short period.

Published in The Indian Forester:

Tehsin, R. H (1991) Five-stripped Squirrel (Funambulus pennanti) Are Voracious Insect Eaters. Ind. For. 117(6): 497

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