Vampire squirrel has world’s fluffiest tail

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

There is a large squirrel rarely spotted in Borneo that hunters say will jump onto deer and bites at their jugular vein to bring them down and disembowel them.  It turns out the tufted ground squirrel also has the bushiest tail compared with its body size of any small mammal (30% more voluminous than its body).  This fact was only discovered recently after motion-sensing cameras took some photos of the squirrel.  Scientists think that this super-bushy tail might confuse predators or cause them to get a mouthful of hair if they try to attack the squirrel, acting as a form of defense.
A photo taken by a motion-activated camera of the tufted ground squirrel in Borneo. Photo credit: Rona Dennis.
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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.