Squirrels are more often heard than seen. Bird-like calls of 'chewit-chewit' pierce the understorey of forests in which saplings and lianas grow at a density that allows slender squirrels to leap between vine and branch without setting foot on the ground. Their larger cousins, Callosciurus notatus, are no less chatty, punctuating their foraging with shrill chirps and violent swipes of a proud, plush tail. The rodents, for all their justifiable wariness of primates that have ditched the high ground of a treesome life, can be remarkably tolerant of humans when they are busy stripping bark off trees, rooting in the foliage for fruit and insects, or engaged in death-defying pursuits of rivals or mates that involve ridiculous dashes, unmeasured leaps and blinding tumbles through secondary growth and mangrove corridors, accompanied by shrill oaths delivered with staccato fury.
Squirrels don't usually sit and stare, but when they do, few casual visitors to local parks and reserves suffer from the intrusion of arboreal mammals into their line of foresight or endure the disruption of small, warm bodies to their constitutional subroutines. But there was no escaping the high power of a pair of liquid globes a mere head above eye level by a trail through swampy backwaters overrun by sun skinks and skimming dragonflies. The animal's compact size and lack of an obvious streak on each flank suggested Sundasciurus tenuis, but the bushy tail and heavy build demurred. It took a few moments of misplaced focus for a second, rather larger, squirrel to become evident, perched on a limb that had been sawn off and cauterised to prevent the forest from attacking civilised intruders. Caught flat-footed perhaps as they scrounged by the path, the pair had taken flight in subterfuge, the subadult mimicking its parent or heeding a call to halt. It was, possibly, a nod to caution by the older beast on behalf of an offspring that is yet to earn its stripes and has not mastered the art of flinging its buff and brown frame through the undercanopy without missing a step or making a monkey out of a tribe that has never fallen to the level of naked apes.