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Squirrels spotted anew in Mindanao and Manila

Squirrels spotted anew in Mindanao and Manila

Squirrels were spotted again in Mount Apo Natural Park (MANP) during a biodiversity monitoring conducted by the park's Area Management Office.

According to Kuya Kim on "24 Oras," Tuesday, the squirrels in the forest were first sighted in 2022 although the park wasn't able to take photos of the elusive creatures. They were documented again in 2023 and just recently by park staff.  

This time around, park ranger and photographer Lucky Naquines was able to snap photos of the two species of squirrels, which were identified as a Philippine pygmy squirrel (Exilisciurus concinnus) and a Mindanao squirrel (Sundasciurus mindanensis).

Kuya Kim explained that a squirrel is a type of rodent and is related to hamsters and rats. A squirrel has four front teeth, which grow throughout the course of its life. It also has four toes on its fore feet and five toes on its hind feet.

Joyce Quilla, a forest technician in MANP Cotabato, shared that these two squirrels discovered in MANP are considered endemic or native to the Philippines.

"Considered sila as arboreal species. Ang lahat ng mga activities nila sa mataas na kahoy lang. Ang dalawang species na ito ay classified as least concerned. Ang sightings ng squirrels ay indicator sila ng healthy ecosystem," she said. "'Yung mga squirrels ay tumutulong sa pagdi-disperse ng mga seeds, also 'yung regeneration ng ating forests and ecosystems."

Another squirrel was also spotted recently in Taguig City, which a content creator was able to take a video of. According to Kuya Kim, however, the squirrel seen in Metro Manila is a Finlayson's squirrel and is not native to the Philippines.

He added that some believe this type of squirrel may have arrived in the country due to the illegal pet trade. It is considered an invasive alien species and can pose a threat to native biodiversity, the environment, and agriculture.

— CDC, GMA Integrated News