First Video of Vampire Squirrel Revealed

The tufted ground squirrel, which can allegedly take down deer, and has the world's bushiest tail. HOSCAP Borneo

Deep in the rainforests of Borneo lurks the so-called "vampire squirrel," allegedly capable of attacking and drinking the blood of deer. In reality, it's the tufted ground squirrel, or Rheithrosciurus macrotis.

Scientists have now captured what is likely the first video footage ever of the animal, about which little is known. The footage was acquired after researchers placed 35 motion-triggered cameras in the Gunung Palung National Park in western Borneo, according to Science.

Nobody has proven that this 14-inch long mammal can take down a deer. But according to a 2014 study in the journal Taprobanica, Bornean locals told scientists that "the squirrel waits on a low branch for a deer to pass below, jumps on its back and bites the jugular vein, whereon the deer bleeds to death. Once dead the squirrel proceeds to disembowel the deer and eat the stomach contents, heart and liver. Dayak [Bornean] hunters sometimes find these disemboweled deer in the forest, none of the flesh eaten, which to them is a clear sign of a squirrel kill.… In villages close to the forest edge there were also accounts of the squirrel killing domestic chickens and eating the heart and liver only."

This squirrel also has the bushiest tail of any animal. It's tail is actually 30 percent bigger than the rest of its body, as revealed in the same study. (Another way to say this is that its tail is 130 percent the mass of the rest of its body.) The closest competitors are ring-tailed cats, common striped possums and squirrel gliders, whose tails are only as big as the rest of their body.

Little is known about the tufted ground squirrel, which may be able to kill animals much larger than it. It also feeds on seeds. J. Brodie and D. Augeri / Taprobanica