Striped bush squirrels are terrestrial and live in a variety of habitats, from moist savannahs to forests. They can be found on cultivated lands, preferring sugar plum tree groves. Populations are most numerous in old-growth hardwood forests. (Allen and Loveridge, 1942; Grubb, 2006; Kingdon, 1984; Kingdon, 1997)
Striped bush squirrels are small to medium sized squirrels. Head and body length measurement averages 175 mm and tail length also averages 175 mm. They can weight from 120 g to 200 g. Striped bush squirrels undergo periodic color changes. The back can be dark grey or olive-brown, which can be replaced by brightly ochraceous tipped hairs. The dorsal surface can also take on a fulvous or bright gold hue. Paraxerus flavovittis has a single dorsal lateral stripe on each side. This stripe can be ivory, white, or yellowish and there is a dark line on either side of each stripe. The top of the head eventually can become ochraceous. When the dorsal surface of the muzzle is grizzled ochraceous, the crown is often dark grey as well as the neck. Facial lines are alternatively white and dark brown. The underside of is white. The dorsal foot surfaces can be dull ochraceous. The toes are heavily clawed.
It is thought that color changes in the fur might be connected with age. Color changes do not seem to be merely seasonal, but may depend on the physiological condition of the squirrel. (Hinton, 1920; Kingdon, 1997; Thomas, 1919)
There is very little information on the reproduction and mating systems in striped bush squirrels. However, in a related species, Smith's bush squirrels (Paraxerus cepapi), there is more information.
Male P. cepapi increase the frequency of mating calls when approaching mating season. The male mating call often begins in April and ends by January. The cycle of the male mating call is probably controlled by androgen. In captivity, a male P. cepapi mating call is often followed by chasing the female and attempting to mount her. It is possible that the presence of a female will stimulate the male to emit his mating call. This call by the male also possibly brings the female into estrus. Captive males have been recorded emitting the mating call sporadically, and will murmur continuously in the presence of a female who has given her mating call.
The high pitched mating call of females, emitted while in estrus, is given in short pulses. This call may be followed by grunting or growling softly. A female P. cepapi emits this call while the male mounts her. (Viljoen, 1983)
Very young striped bush squirrels have been collected in the months of March and April. In June, some half-grown young were collected. It has been suggested that the birthing season may occur around these months, and possibly a second one in September. A striped bush squirrel nest was recorded as being made from grass and coconut fibers and was located in a hollow tree.
Captive P. cepapi have a gestation period of 56 to 58 days. At birth, P. cepapi young are well developed. Weaning occurs between 4 and 6 weeks after birth. A new set of pups can be born as early as 62 days after birth of the last litter; P. cepapi generally has two pups per litter. (Allen and Loveridge, 1942; Butler, et al., 2004; Emmons, 1979)
A small amount of information on P. flavovittis parental care shows that young will emit a squeak at ear piercing level when in danger or fearful. The mother will respond to this call, but one mother was observed fleeing from the rescue when she realized she was under observation.
A mother P. cepapi will remain in the nest almost continuously for the first days after parturition. Males are often in the nest as well. Paraxerus cepapi parents often approach their young and groom them forcefully.
In order to move her young, a female P. cepapi will carry the young by gripping the ventral body surface of its hindleg in her mouth. The young holds on with arms, legs and tail. It has been indicated that a mother will retrieve her young up to 4 weeks of age. After this, the young will resist retrieval.
Neither the adult male nor the adult female will provide the young with solid food in the nest. For the first six months after birth, a young P. cepapi follows its parents around while eating.
There is no available information on the lifespan/longevity of Paraxerus flavovittis.
Striped bush squirrels are diurnal mammals. Not much is known about their social system, but females and males associate with their young. There are no recordings of large associations of P. flavovittis. Striped bush squirrels nest in hardwood tree hollows and can be seen basking near their nest holes in the early morning. If they realize they have attracted attention, they will flee. It has been suggested that females are more wary than males. (Allen and Loveridge, 1942; Kingdon, 1984; Viljoen, 1977)
There is not much information on communication in striped bush squirrels except that young will emit a piercing squeak when threatened or fearful, to which the mother will respond.
Research on communication in a different species in the same genus, Paraxerus cepapi, yields clues about the communication of striped bush squirrels. Tail flicking and ear wagging have been recorded in P. cepapi. Being a species that lives in the savannah, however, tail flicking does not occur often outside of an alarm context. The savannah is one habitat for P. flavovittis, so it is possible that minimal tail flicking occurs within this species as well, because of the risk of attracting predators. A quick head bob is also seen in P. cepapi. It is a subtle movement and is done the first moments after P. cepapi feels threatened. Quicker head bobs are performed before attempts at long jumps.
In P. cepapi olfactory signals include mouthwiping and anal-dragging. Mouthwiping is done after eating or during grooming. Paraxerus cepapi has also been observed mouthwiping in a modified form resembling flehmen. Face-tail-face grooming in P. cepapi distributes scent all over the body.
Paraxerus cepapi murmurs, which is thought to be a form of communication used to contact another squirrel and can be aggressive or friendly. Male and female P. cepapi give mating calls to attract each other. When P. cepapi individuals feel threatened, they will emit a warning growl or hiss. Teeth grinding may also be used as a warning. Ticking sounds emited by young P. cepapi are probably used to show that they are seeking contact with the mother. (Allen and Loveridge, 1942; Viljoen, 1983)
Striped bush squirrels eat seeds, fruits, roots, leaves, and buds. (Kingdon, 1997)
There is very little information regarding predation on P. flavovittis. Likely predators that live within the range of P. flavovittis and prey on rodents are African wild cats (Felis silvestris libyca) and feral domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). Snakes and birds of prey are also likely predators. (Butler, et al., 2004)
Available information on the ecosystem roles of striped bush squirrels is lacking. It seems likely, however, that they disperse seeds of the tree species they feed on and affect the abundance of the specific plants on which they feed.
There are no known positive effects of Paraxerus flavovittis on humans.
There are no known adverse effects of Paraxerus flavovittis on humans.
Paraxerus flavovittis is classified as Data Deficient on the IUCN list. It is not listed on either the CITES appendices or the United States Federal list. ("U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Working Together", 2007; "UNEP-WCMC Species Database: CITES-Listed Species", 2007; Grubb, 2006)
Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Nicole Mason (author), Michigan State University, Barbara Lundrigan (editor, instructor), Michigan State University.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
an animal that mainly eats fruit
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
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Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon Field Guide to African mammals. New York: Academic Press.
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Viljoen, S. 1977. Behaviour of the bush squirrel, Paraxerus cepapi cepapi (A. Smith, 1836). Mammalia, 41: 119-165.
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