Bangs’s Mountain Squirrel vs Red-tailed Squirrel Identification

Bangs’s Mountain Squirrel (Syntheosciurus brochus)

Bangs’s Mountain Squirrel (Syntheosciurus brochus) is a rarely seen – and even more rarely photographed – squirrel from the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama. It is also frequently misidentified, as a quick search on Google images confirms: the first 10 results are all Red-tailed Squirrels.

The two species superficially similar and some of the local guides in Panama at least misidentify Red-tailed Squirrels as Syntheosciurus. This happened to me when I stayed at Los Quetzales in Panama in 2016 and Fiona Reid corrected me. It has happened to others too since then.

So I wanted to share these fabulous images from Ignacio Yúfera from Tamandua Nature Tours in Panama. The company now has a reserve in the Chriqui Highlands, with I am told very comfortable accommodation, and Bangs’s Mountain Squirrel is regular there at the fruit feeders. Ignacio has taken the best pictures I have ever seen of the species and they help illustrate the differences with Red-tailed Squirrels that are common in the area.

Bangs’s Mountain Squirrel (Syntheosciurus brochus)

Although the colouration is fairly similar, depending on the light, the Bangs’s squirrels have tiny ears and a more ‘vole like’ face.

Red-tailed Squirrel (Sciurus granatensis)

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Jon Hall

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