Squirrels in Nepal are said to be the least studied species of mammal because squirrel sightings are rare, as only a few wander far from their natural habitats. Perhaps, if squirrels in the United States are afforded with similar living conditions as those in Nepal, the small mammals will not seek shelter and protection in human homes, particularly in attics.
Known Facts About Squirrels in Nepal
Nepal is home to 11 species of squirrels, out of the 248 species found across the globe. The most common of which is the hoary-bellied squirrels, to which only 39 were sighted during a study launched in October to September in 2018. Squirrel sightings occurred mostly on roads and other low altitude areas and in fewer occasions in agricultural lands located near bodies of water.
Squirrels in Nepal are distributed in different geographical locations, across plains, mid hills, and even in the alpine areas of the country’s Trans-Himalayan region. Their natural habitats are typically in mountainous areas, with elevation levels ranging between 70- 4000 meters above sea level; many of which are outside of Nepal’s protected wildlife areas. These species of wildlife mammals are known to use oak trees and tall bamboos as their nesting sites. The preference for these trees are likely due to the protection provided against predators.
Still, like squirrels in other parts of the globe, the existence of squirrels in Nepal are threatened by mankind’s high-use of natural landscapes, which often lead to habitat loss. High use include not only road and infrastructure constructions but also for agricultural purposes, small scale logging activities and in some parts, establishment of human settlements.
As the different species of squirrels are forced to look for other places in which to seek shelter, they are chanced upon by local hunters looking to make money by way of fur or pet trades. In some areas inhabited by indigenous folks, squirrel skin is believed to be an effective protection against evil spirits.
Nonetheless, animal conservationists conduct studies about squirrel as a way to collect data to have a better understanding of the small mammals and the ecology in which they thrive. Doing so will help wildlife agencies introduce future conservation and management programs.
The overall impression we get from brief overviews about squirrels in Nepal is that these small animals are not considered as wildlife nuisance. Except in cases where they stumble into villages in which the people mistake them for wild civet cats. The latter are the leading wildlife pests in mountainous regions. As a result, some squirrels become victims of retaliatory killings like those that transpire in villages near the Makalu Barun National Park in the district Sankhuwasabha.
Squirrels in the U.S. are Protected by Animals Laws
Apparently, habitat loss is a common major problem encountered by squirrel species distributed in different parts of the world.
One major difference though is that in some countries like the U.S., squirrels and other wildlife regarded as nuisance animals are protected by animal laws. Handling of wildlife creatures found invading human homes including those that use attics as nesting places must employ ethical and humane methods in the removal of animals.
As an example, the AAAC Wildlife Removal of San Antonio in Texas will entrust captured nuisance animals to the local Animal Control Officer. The ACO in turn will be responsible for bringing the creatures back to their natural environments that can provide them with safe shelter, food sources and freshwater.