Twitter goes nuts for huge, multicolored squirrel as long as a cat

*Best David Attenborough voice* ...and here we have the Malabar squirrel, a creature the internet absolutely adores.

Jackson Ryan Former Science Editor
Jackson Ryan was CNET's science editor, and a multiple award-winning one at that. Earlier, he'd been a scientist, but he realized he wasn't very happy sitting at a lab bench all day. Science writing, he realized, was the best job in the world -- it let him tell stories about space, the planet, climate change and the people working at the frontiers of human knowledge. He also owns a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters.
Jackson Ryan
2 min read

Step aside, cute cats that play piano. The internet has a new viral sensation: The Indian giant squirrel.

The squirrel is a three-tone behemoth native to the forests of India -- and now entirely adored by Twitter . It can grow to around 14 inches in length, which is just a little smaller than a full grown cat and can jump to a height of around 20 feet. It's got all the necessary features required to become an internet icon.

And so, after an amateur wildlife photographer's snaps caught fire online, the squirrel has done just that.

Kaushik Vijayan was trekking through the Indian forest when he spotted the creatures in their technicolor dream coats, posting images to his Instagram account. Although they were originally posted in 2018, media distributor South West News Service posted them to Twitter on Tuesday.

Suddenly Viyajan's snaps of the furry red, blue and gold flyers are everywhere.

Vijayan told CBS News he found the squirrel "drop-dead gorgeous" and that he was "overwhelmed" by the response that his photos were receiving. The responses on Twitter have largely been unadulterated joy, because it's simply wonderful such a thing exists in this cruel, cold world.

The squirrel isn't an incredibly new discovery -- in fact, they appear in early classification records of mammals by German naturalist Johann Erxeleben from 1777 and several subspecies have been discovered in the past two centuries. Still, they're a surprise to many and an icon to others.

Of course, that could be because we've just past April Fools' Day and there have been a ton of sneaky hoaxes that caught us off-guard.

Others weren't at all keen on the squirrel at all.

Although climate change is rapidly destroying the biodiversity of the planet, wiping out adorable species like the Bramble Cay Melomys and pushing others, like the northern white rhino, to the very edge, the Malabar giant squirrel is ranked as species of "least concern".

Hopefully that means we will be seeing a lot more of the tricolored forest wonders in the future.

15 creatures that could disappear with Great Barrier Reef

See all photos