Sciurus anomalus Güldenstaedt, 1785

Amr, Zuhair S., Abu, Mohammad A., Qumsiyeh, Mazin & Eid, Ehab, 2018, Systematics, distribution and ecological analysis of rodents in Jordan, Zootaxa 4397 (1), pp. 1-94: 8-10

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Sciurus anomalus Güldenstaedt, 1785


Sciurus anomalus Güldenstaedt, 1785 

Common Name: Persian squirrel.

Diagnosis: Color on back brownish gray and brownish yellow on the ventral side, fur is coarse with soft underwool ( Figure 5 View Figure ). Tail thick, bushy and flattened in appearance. Ears with very short tufts. Muzzle short and blunt. Eyes surrounded by yellowish hair. Thumbs of forefeet vestigial. Hind feet with 5 digits. Dorsal side of tail is light redbrownish. Five pairs of mammae. Strong depression of the braincase posteriorly. Postorbital process of frontal present and distinctively sharp pointed. Low molar crowns and square-like shaped ( Figure 6 View Figure ).

Localities: Previous records. Kufrinja ( Amr & Disi, 1988); Burmā (Harrison & Bates, 1991); Ajlūn Forest Reserve, Dibbīn Forest Reserve, Rimon, between Sakib and ‘Anjara ( Amr et al., 2006); Ajlūn (AUB specimen cited in Atallah, 1978). New records. Tabaqat Fahl ( Figure 7 View Figure ).

Habitat: It is associated with thick pine and oak forests in northern Jordan. Locally, the Persian squirrel is uncommon and hard to spot in the mountains of Ajlūn, Jarash and Ishtafayna where pine and oak trees are abundant. It uses tree holes as nests and can be located using the piles of eaten acorns and cones under trees. In a recent study, the presence of the Persian squirrel, Sciurus anomalus  , was confirmed in Dibbeen Forest Reserve and other localities in Jordan. The records were based on direct visual observations and finding remains of consumed pine cones. Examination of freshly consumed pine-cone remains constituted an excellent tool to record the presence and distribution of squirrels across the reserve. Freshly consumed pinecones formed continuous clusters in most of the studied localities. Also, remains of fresh, old and very old pine cones were concentrated in pine forested areas, and with less frequency in mixed pine-oak forested regions ( Amr et al., 2006). 

Biology: The Persian squirrel is an arboreal and diurnal species. Squirrels were observed either individually or in groups of up to 9 individuals. It exhibits two activity peaks, early morning hours until around 9 am, and another peak two hours before the sunset when they start making calls (Koprowski et al., 2016). When disturbed, animals always escape to the higher pine trees although oak trees are present. It could be seen either on the ground looking for food remains or on top of trees hiding or feeding on green cones that are usually found on the top of trees. Food remains such as cones were spotted close to or inside tree holes. Also, nests are located on thick branches with large amount of pine needles at various elevations. In Ajlūn Forest Reserve, we located a nesting site with a new born squirrel on a tree during April.

Remarks: The presence of the Persian squirrel in Jordan represents its most southern range of distribution ( Amr, 2000; Koprowski et al., 2016). Its occurrence in Jordan may represent a relict population which have been separated from the continuous range of distribution that extends from the Caucasus through Anatolia, western Syria to Jordan. The karyotype for specimens collected from Iran was found to be 2n=40, NF=76, with 18 metacentric and one submetacentric pairs of chromosomes (Nadler & Hoffmann, 1970), while in Turkey, Al Bayrak & Arsalan, (2006) obtained 2n=40, FN=80 with 5 metacentic and 14 submetacentric chromosome pairs.