Step right up and see the first footage of the elusive vampire squirrel

Ladies and gentlemen, feast your unbelieving eyes on the first recorded footage of this mysterious rodent! Marvel at its massive, fluffy tail! Hear unbelievable stories about its bloodthirsty nature!

Danny Gallagher
CNET freelancer Danny Gallagher has contributed to Cracked.com, Mental Floss, Maxim, Break.com, Mandatory, Jackbox Games, Geeks Who Drink and many, many other publications in his never-ending quest to bring the world's productivity to a screeching halt. He lives and works in Dallas. Email Danny.
Danny Gallagher
2 min read

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Motion detection cameras in Indonesia's Gunung Palung National Park recorded the first footage of the elusive vampire squirrel. Video screenshot by Danny Gallagher/CNET

A vampire squirrel sounds like the concoction of a B-movie that tries to turn a seemingly harmless creature into a bloodthirsty killing machine like zombie sheep, man-eating slugs and giant rabbits. By the way, all three of those creatures are from actual movies.

However, the vampire squirrel is very real. It's also very elusive and scientists have only seen fleeting glimpses of the squirrel in the wild. That is, until now. A motion-sensing camera placed in a national park in Indonesia recorded the first known footage of this mysterious creature. Science Magazine obtained the footage and posted it on its YouTube page Tuesday.

Researchers from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand recorded the footage from a camera they placed in the Gunung Palung National Park in West Kalimantan as part of an ecology study. The footage is only 15 seconds long, but it clearly shows the squirrel with its massive, fluffy tail rooting around the ground as it steps in and out of the frame. Researchers are hoping this breakthrough will lead to finding more footage of the mysterious rodent so they can learn more about its mating behavior and ecology.

The vampire squirrel, a rodent native to Borneo also known as the tufted ground squirrel, has some legendary distinctions in the animal kingdom. Last year, an essay published in the journal Taprobanica: The Journal of Asian Biodiversity estimated that the squirrel has a tail that is 130 percent bigger in volume compared to its body making it "one of the most voluminous tails among all mammals relative to body size."

The vampire squirrel also has an interesting reputation among the locals in Borneo as a bloodthirsty predator. One of the essay's authors spoke to a Borneo native who claims the squirrel hunts deer by waiting on low-hanging tree branches, jumping on the deer's back and biting its jugular vein. The squirrel disembowels the deer and feasts on its stomach, liver and heart.

So far, this only appears to be a local legend. There is no conclusive scientific proof that the vampire squirrel is capable of committing any such predatory behavior.

However, it sounds like it would make an epic creature for one of those horror showdown movies. Just imagine watching something called "Alien vs. Predator vs. Vampire Squirrel." I smell a future People's Choice Award nominee.