Rare “Vampire” squirrel caught on film

Researchers have captured some rare images, none of them terrifying at all, of the the so-called “Vampire” squirrel, which has a reputation for taking down deer and sucking the blood.

That of course seems incongruent with the Bornean tufted ground squirrel’s ridiculously adorable appearance. Properly called Rheithrosciurus macrotis, the squirrel actually lays claim to mammal with the fluffiest tail of all mammals.

But now researchers from the University of Michigan and Victoria University of Wellington, who set up remote motion-triggered cameras in Gunung Palung National Park in Indonesia, captured what appears to be the first video of the critter.

“I was sitting at the bar in Jakarta waiting to come home, looking through the pictures, and this popped up,” Andrew Marshall, a conservation biologist at the University of Michigan, told Science magazine.


Local legend has it that the 35-centimetre-long squirrel will attack forest deer and drink the blood. Of course, there’s no photographic evidence of such a feat. But scientists do know the squirrel eat nuts of the canarium tree. In fact, little is actually known about the animals, such as, what’s the point of the giant, fluffy tail.

Though some photos have been taken over the years. But is the folklore true? Does the squirrel have a taste for blood?

“I would be very surprised if it were true,” Marshall told Science.

Photos U. Michigan/Victoria University/Gunung Palung National/Science Magazine/YouTube

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