Feeding habits and comparative feeding rates of three southern African arboreal squirrels
Food utilization by three arboreal squirrels was studied with regard to feeding habits and efficiency, food preferences and chemical analyses of the food. Food selected in the field by the two forest subspecies the Ngoye red squirrel Paraxerus palliatus ornatus and the Tonga red squirrel, P. p. tongensis are listed. Measurements of lengths of the different parts of their intestinal tracts indicate that the southern African arboreal squirrels are more insectivorous than tropical African squirrels. With regard to feeding efficiency, the tree squirrel P. cepapi cepapl, a savanna species, is relatively more adept at handling small seeds and the flesh of fruits, whereas the two forest subspecies mainly concentrate on the endosperm of large fruits. Chemical analyses of fruits and seeds indicate that the fat content is noticeably higher in fruits and endosperm from forests and that the protein content of savanna endosperm is higher than from the forest.