ABOVE: The Sabah race of Prevost’s Squirrel feeding on Ficus caulocarpa at Danum Valley Field Centre. Illustration by Karen Phillipps based on a photograph by Hans Hazebroek.
There are 36 species of squirrels in Borneo of which 14 species are nocturnal flying squirrels. Of these 36 species, Prevost’s Squirrel is the most frugivorous and the squirrel most often seen feeding on ripe figs.
The animals that eat figs can be divided into 3 categories or guilds;
(1) Seed Dispersers, eg, most birds, some fruit bats, gibbons, orangutans, sun bears, deer, palm civets and large rats which swallow and defecate the seeds.
(2) Seed Predators which eat and digest the seeds eg, green pigeons, pheasants, partridges and small rats.
(3) Pulp Thieves which swallow the pulp but drop or regurgitate the seeds, eg some birds and some bats. Although the subject has never been studied it is most likely that Prevost’s Squirrel is a pulp thief of figs but may also swallow and disperse a few seeds.