The largest squirrel in the world is the Indian giant squirrel (ratufa indica) sometimes known as the Malabar giant squirrel, it can grow to three feet in length, with only the tail measuring up to 2ft. in length. This species is found in southeast Asia, and parts of Nepal.The species is endemic to deciduous, mixed deciduous, and moist evergreen forests of peninsular India, reaching as far north as the Satpura hill range of Madhya Pradesh approx. 22° N).
The Ratufa indica has a conspicuous bipartite (and sometimes tripartite) colouring pattern. The colours involved can be creamy, beiige, buff, tan, rust, brown, or even a dark seal brown. The underparts and the front legs are usually cream coloured, the head can be brown or beige, however there is a distinctive white spot between the ears. Seven different geographical races, each distinctive in the colouration of its upper-parts, have been identified. Among these are the buff and tan Ratufa indica dealbata of the tropical moist deciduous forests of the Surat Dangs; the seal brown, tan, and beige (and darkest) Ratufa indica maxima of the tropical wet evergreen forest of Malabar; the dark brown, tan and beige (and largest), Ratufa indica bengalensis of the tropical semi-evergreen forests east of the Brahmagiri mountains in Coorg extending up to the Bay of Bengal coast of Orissa; and the rust and buff Ratufa indica centralis of the tropical dry deciduous forests of Central India, near Hoshangabad.
The Indian giant squirrel is an upper-canopy dwelling species, which rarely leaves the trees, and requires tall profusely branched trees for the construction of nests. It travels from tree to tree taking amazing leaps with limbs outspread, jumps of up to 6 m (19.69 ft). The long bushy tail helps in balancing their body on the trees. It is an active agile animal, mostly active during the early mornings and evenings. When in danger, the Ratufa indica often freezes or flattens itself against the tree trunk, instead of fleeing. Its main predators are the birds of prey and the leopard.