It’s time for “Helping Tomer Identify Small Mammals based on Terrible Pictures!”

So I didn’t do my homework on small mammals before goign to the CAR… So I kind of learned some of the squirrels and galagos as I went along. Well, the red-legged sun squirrels and the tiny but noisy green bush squirrels were readily identified (most of the time), and I got a good look at but no photos of Thomas’s rope squirrel twice. But the rest I’m kind of having trouble identifying:

  1. Could this be not a red-legged sun squirrel? It looked a bit smaller, and its leg, frankly, more red-legged than the rest:
  2. This squirrel looked more like pictures I saw of African Giant squirrel than of the red-legged sun squirrel. Any thoughts?
    IMG_3281 IMG_3286
  3. The next one I think is for sure a rope squirrel… but which one?
  4. And then there’s this terrible picture:
  5. Finally, there’s what I believe is an actual red-legged sun squirrel. Confirmation?
    IMG_3955 IMG_3956

    Next is a galago:

  6. So if the pictures weren’t bad enough, check out this threesome of horrible, out of focus pictures:
    IMG_3334 IMG_3339  IMG_3337
    So even though they’re out of focus and not sharp, you can clearly make out the contrasting whitish under-parts of the body and brownish limbs, wiht pink-ish/Orangish hands and feet. The head is definitely more grey than the belly, and it has a face the same color as the hands and legs. It looks like the tail is grey as is the back of the animal and is uniform. It was much smaller than the elegant needle-clawed galago (I have better pictures of that one, wiht the white tip of the tail, and its hands and feet aren’t this color), and larger and didn’t look anything alike the tiny Demidoff’s galago. From the mammal book they had, the only one that made sense to me was the squirrel galago, but what do you guys think?
  7. Now onto some mice. The fist one was seen along the River trail of Sangha Lodge. A wood mouse?
  8. And another individual down the trail, of probably the same species:
  9.  Then a mouse that was caught outside of Cabin 1 in the lodge. We were actually going to release it further in the forest, but it fled the bag prematurely. Not before we measured its tail which was like 10-12 cm, I think:
    IMG_3913 IMG_3915

  10. And finally, a couple of bats. I’m totally helpless on bats… the first one was really large, almost like a flying fox. It reminds me of what Coke Smith called a “signing fruit bat”, but that’s just a very superficial observation so, please feel free to correct me:
    IMG_3950 IMG_3951
  11. And last (and maybe least), the bats behind the waterall at Bai Hoku. I think Coke named them Noak’s Roundleaf bats? To me, one looks different than all the rest. Again, sorry for the bad picture (I promise to have better pictures of larger animals in my upcoming report):

    So that’s it! Thanks in advance to anyone who attempts to ID some of my least good pictures of the trip. I promise you the pangolin pictures are better 😉


  • Venkat Sankar

    I think the first is Red-legged Sun Squirrel, as I’m not sure what else it could possibly be. That species tends to be quite variable.

    The second is almost certainly an African Giant Squirrel IMO.

    The third looks like Lady Burton’s or Ribboned Rope Squirrel. The photo quality makes it tough for me to tell the difference, but my guess is Lady Burton’s.

    The fourth is a Rope Squirrel of some sort; I have no idea which species. Could you tell me what the habitat was (i.e. near water or not, etc.)?

    I think 5 is a Red-legged Sun Squirrel.

    Thomas’s is another suggestion for #6; was it higher up in the canopy (then most likely Thomas’s), or close to the ground in dense thickets (in which case Allen’s would make more sense).

    I’ll leave the small rodents and fruit bat to people more knowledgeable in those areas than me.

    Finally, they’re probably all Noack’s Roundleaf Bat. Bat coat color in these caves can change depending on the amount of ammonia (which can bleach fur and make it orange in color).

    • Vladimir Dinets

      Venkat, wouldn’t Lady Burton’s be more grayish?

      • Venkat Sankar

        Ah, yes. I was looking at the pics on my phone the first time. On the laptop, it is definitely too orange for Lady Burton’s and the stripe is too diffuse, so I agree with your ID of Thomas’s.

  • Vladimir Dinets

    There is a chance that 1 is fire-footed rope sq. (if back stripes got somehow blended in the photo), but I don’t think it’s compact enough.
    2 could be giant, yes.
    I can’t be sure but I’d say 3 is Thomas’s. Did you note what the alarm call sounded like?
    4 looks like green bush sq. to me.
    5 should be red-legged; rope sq’s don’t have tail bands.
    Gabon squirrel galago is supposed to have grey head, orangish limbs and slightly yellowish underparts. Have you considered Thomas’s galago? Did you hear any calls?
    7 & 8 don’t seem to be brown/chestnut enough for wood mice, and I am not convinced they are the same species (the ears look different, although it could be damaged in 7). Did you see 7’s tail? Also, what was the size?
    What was h&b length in 9? Tail length and color fit Mastomys natalensis.
    10 is female hammerhead, perhaps? I’ve never seen that species except in flight.
    11 The bats at Bai Hoku are supposed to be Noak’s, but I didn’t visit that colony. Orange color results from ammonia bleaching in some individuals and doesn’t affect the ID.

    Now let’s hope Rod will stop by and tell you what they all really are 🙂

  • tomeslice

    Hey guys, thanks so much for the resposnes!

    So I think I still need a ruling on #1.
    #2 – Giant
    #3 – I’m having a hard time with thinking this one’s a Thomas’s Rope Squirrel because the few encounters I had with this species I saw it had a distinctly orange head which was in high contrast from the body. Even in low light and slightly out of focus I think you’d be able to see it. Thomas’s is unmistakable in my opinion. Maybe the Ribboned one after all? What do you guys think?
    #4 – so which one is it? Does a green bush squirrel has such a bushy and thick tail? It was also in the swampy area where Vladimir saw the otter (there were tons of different squirrels there in the first hour of light)
    #5 – Red Legged.
    #6 – This one wasn’t all the way in the canopy, but it wasn’t in the low-to-the-ground thicket where you would find demidoff’s. We did also see Thomas’s in that area (on the road coming into Sangha), and they were very noisy (I dont recall the exact call but I remember it was high pitched and high frequency squeaks or something like that). But this indidividual in the picture did not make a call. The colors still seem to be a bit off, and Rod didn’t seem to think it was Thomas’s, Needle-clawed or Demidoff’s, that’s why we came up with the squirrel galago, based on the mammal book. But if you both think it’s Thomas’s then that’s definitely a possibility.

    #7 – I didn’t get a great look at the tail because it was in a bushy area… But you do see the ears on both sides of the mouse so I wonder if that helps. Yeah, the ears look different from 7 to 8.
    #8 – Jean-Michel Bompar told me that based on his experience (he caught similar specimen) and on the opinion of 2 West African rodent specialists, this one would be Hylomyscus alleni or walterverheyni
    #9 – Praomys miosnnei or patteri by the same reasoning
    #10 – ID pending (he’s going to look into it), but upon looking at pictures – Vladimir that made sense to me. But I’m the opposite of a bat expert.
    #11 – Apparently 100% Noak’s RL bats.

    Thanks again guys!
    I still wonder about #3 and #6… maybe we can get a 3rd opinion 🙂

  • Vladimir Dinets

    The galago photos are not particularly informative, so if Rod thinks it’s squirrel galago, it’s probably squirrel galago. Note that Kingdon’s book exaggerates its affinity to lower strata and ground feeding.
    If #8 is a Hylomyscus, it should be H. alleni, because H. walterverheyni are more orange there (see photos in my trip report).
    #7 seems to have yellow lower flanks, in which case it’s not a Hylomyscus. If it was on the River Trail, could be Malacomys longipes.
    If #9 is a Praomys, I think the only species in the area with matching tail length is P. tullbergi, but since it looks like a juvenile, it could be the larger and more common P. jacksoni. P. miosnnei & P. patteri don’t seem to occur there, but you can double-check.

  • tomeslice

    Thanks Vladimir!

    #7 and #8 were on the river trail. So I’ll take your word on it 🙂

    About 9 – again I’m the least expert on the subject. From Jean-Michel who traveled there with Jon Hall:
    “we caught several at Sangha Lodge. They identified Praomys miosnnei or patteri”
    I’m not sure… whatever you say, I will take your word on it.


  • Vladimir Dinets

    I am not an expert on Praomys, but that’s what IUCN range maps say (or said the last time I checked, which was in January). Of course, they are not a perfect source of information – far from it. What I would recommend is to wait for the next volume of HMW, due this summer. I can tell you what it says as soon as I get it (I’m getting them for free because there are my photos in them, la-la-la-la-la).

  • tomeslice

    Cool. I will just include it as “soft-furred mouse” without going down to specific species. And enjoy 😉

Leave a Reply