Patriots, do you recognize the horribly englutted skwerlball above? If not, you're not alone...
Several weeks ago we received this shocking photo from one of our operatives stationed in Ipoh, Malaysia. The operative, Patriot Tan Chin Tong asked that we identify the oversized, drooling chitterbox and send along further instructions on how to deal with this terrifying discovery. He estimated the skwerl's body length at 35cm with a tail at least that long.
Unfortunately, we were unable to either positively name the nutzy or assign a definite level of threat to its presence in Malaysia.
Subsequently, Patriot Tan sent us another series of photos, each more flabbergasting than the last. Understandably, some of the photos were blurred as Patriot Tan struggled between an instinct for self-preservation and his loyalty to mankind (i.e. with shaky hands he stood his ground and bravely photographed the beast). We present here the best of the series for your consideration...
The new photos suggested that this was no ordinary skwerl. So we forwarded them to experts around the globe for consideration. But the experts were stumped as well.
At first, the closest anyone came to a positive iD was an opinion from Kit S. Tan, Curator at the Singapore Zoo...
It looks like either a mutant Ratufa or Callosciurus.
Kit S. Tan, Curator
Singapore Zoological Gardens
80 Mandai Lake Road
Of course, we agree that this bloated excuse for a chitterbox is a "mutant" of some sort. However, there are many variations of Ratufa, also known as the giant squirrels of India and Asia (e.g. Ratufa bicolor). Likewise, there are at least 17 kinds of Callosciurus (e.g. Prevost's squirrel). Which is it?
Patriots, this is not a question of mere academic interest. The genus Callosciurus is a known player in the bushytail quest for squirrel world domination.
For example, Finlayson's squirrel, Callosciurus finlaysoni is native to Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. However, a cadre of Callosciurus finlaysoni was discovered in Northwestern Italy in 1998. See: Bertolino S., Currado I. & Mazzoglio P.J. (1999a) Finlayson's (Variable) Squirrel, Callosciurus finlaysoni in Italy. Mammalia, 63 (4): 522-525).
Callosciurus is omniverous, but prefers delicious nuts such as hazelnuts. The significance: the world's supply of hazelnut-based Nutella is threatened by this growing terrorist threat.
Is the threat any less real if the skwerlien is a Ratufa? Observe the photo of the skwerl above eating a delicious fruit; then consider the following news brief...
Man mistaken for squirrel killed in tree
August 04, 1998
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - A man who climbed a tree to pick some fruit was
killed by hunters who mistook him for a squirrel, a news report said Tuesday.
Harun Mamat, 47, was shot in the chest Monday while perched in a mangosteen
tree in a village near Kota Baharu, in northern Malaysia. Mangosteen is a
tropical fruit somewhat like an orange.
Two men from a neighborhood-watch group were hunting for squirrels and
accidentally shot Harun, police spokesman Muhammad Muda told the Bernama news
Police detained one of the men for questioning and confiscated his shotgun.
What should we make of the tragic incident above? Were the hunters inexperienced and unable to tell the difference between a skwerl and a human? Did the victim forget to remove his bushytail-skin cap before climbing the tree (click skwerl for comment)?
Of course, the unfortunate event may have been an ignorant mistake or simply a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, we conclude that something much more sinister is going on. Consider the information we received from Dr. Brian Arbogast, Department of Biological Sciences, Humboldt State University, Arcata, California...
What a great pic! It is definitely a Ratufa, although it's coloration is a bit different thant the ones I have seen in Borneo (not incredibly different though). The large size along with the distinctive face make me sure that it is in the genus Ratufa. Probably one of the many color forms of Ratufa affinins.
It may also interest you to know that Ratufa appears to have filled the ecological role typically played in other tropical forests by medium-size frugivorious primates.
Hope this helps,
There you have it, Patriots. Dr. Arbogast not only positively identifies the Beast but its mission as well: To replace primates as the dominate species on the planet. Thus, while the demonic nutzy may go by many names, its sole interest is the pursuit of squirrel world domination.