Tufted Ground Squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis)


Squirrel sulking with an acorn

The Tufted ground squirrel, also known as the groove-toothed squirrel, is a remarkable species of rodent belonging to the family Sciuridae. It is distinguished by its striking physical attributes and exceptional ecological adaptations, making it a fascinating subject of study and conservation efforts.


This unique squirrel species is characterized by its striking tufted ears and a distinctive, bushy tail. The tufted ground squirrel’s fur is typically a rich, chestnut-brown color, accentuated by a lighter underbelly. Its large, dark eyes and agile movements contribute to its captivating appearance. These distinguishing features set it apart from other ground-dwelling squirrels and contribute to its charismatic presence in its natural habitat.


The tufted ground squirrel is an endemic species, exclusively found on the island of Borneo. Its habitat spans across Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia. Notably, its distribution is restricted to specific regions within Borneo, highlighting the species’ reliance on particular ecological conditions for its survival.

Habitat Preferences

This species thrives in the lush, primary forests of Borneo, particularly favoring hillsides within lowland ecosystems. Its specialized habitat requirements underscore the significance of intact, undisturbed forests for its well-being. The tufted ground squirrel’s reliance on specific forest types emphasizes the importance of preserving these ecosystems to support the species’ continued existence.

In summary, the Tufted ground squirrel is an extraordinary mammal with unique characteristics and a limited distribution, making it a species of particular interest for conservation efforts. Its dependence on specific habitats underscores the critical need to protect and conserve the diverse ecosystems of Borneo to ensure the long-term survival of this remarkable species.

Facts About Tufted ground squirrel

  1. The tufted ground squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis) is the sole species in its genus.
  2. It is found only on the island of Borneo, which is divided between Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia.
  3. This squirrel is diurnal, meaning it is active during the day.
  4. It can weigh up to 4.4 lbs and grow up to 13.9 inches in length, with an additional 13.5-inch tail.
  5. The species is rare and lives at low densities, appearing sensitive to timber harvest.
  6. A 2012 study suggests the Rheithrosciurus lineage diverged from a group of Palearctic species some 36 million years ago and colonized Borneo.
  7. The tufted ground squirrel’s fluffy tail is one of its distinctive features.
  8. It is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae.
  9. The squirrel’s scientific name is Rheithrosciurus macrotis.
  10. The tufted ground squirrel was once believed to disembowel deer and feast on their organs, but this has been debunked.

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