There’s a new resident in the Small Mammals building, a male Prevost’s squirrel. His habitat is located next to the cotton-top tamarin, and his name is Kopi.
In the wild, Prevost’s squirrels are found in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia and are arboreal (tree squirrels). Their status in the wild is Stable.
The Prevost’s squirrel is a new species to the Zoo, and they play an important ecological role in their forest habitat. They eat an assortment of seasonal fruits and disperse undigested seeds in their waste as they travel through the forest. The seeds sprout away from the parent plant and increase the survival of fruiting plant species.
Animal care staff comment that they’re excited to work with him, and they are taking everything very slow as he acclimates to his new home. They’ve observed him climbing all over his habitat and exploring any item they add to it. He likes to lay flat on the tree branches and sleep in his crate, bedded with leaves for a “nest.” He also seems to be most active at dusk.
He eats a diet of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, bugs, leafeater biscuits, and a variety of greens. One of his favorite things to eat is peanut butter! When feeding, Prevost’s squirrels squat on their haunches holding the food between their front paws.
Zookeepers are starting to offer training sessions, and one of the behaviors is to go into his crate when they clean the habitat.
Like all rodents, their teeth never stop growing! These squirrels must constantly eat and chew to keep their teeth short. They have two kinds of teeth: incisors and premolars. Incisors in the top and bottom jaws crack open seeds and bird eggs. Premolars chew food into tiny pieces for their stomachs to digest.
The primary threats to the species are deforestation for palm oil plantations and trafficking for the illegal pet trade. You can help Prevost’s squirrels and the other species that share their habitat by choosing products made with sustainable palm oil.
Next time you’re at the Zoo, be sure to see this new addition to the population!
Fun Fact: The genus name for the Prevost’s squirrel is Callosciurus, meaning “beautiful squirrel.”