Tamiops swinhoeiSwinhoe's striped squirrel

Geographic Range

Swinhoe's striped squirrels (Tamiops swinhoei) are widely distributed in southeast Asia and most common throughout China, occurring in central and southern China and on Hainan Island. They are also common in northern Myanmar, northern Vietnam, and may also occur in Laos. (Abramov, et al., 2009; Duckworth and Lunde, 2008; Ren, et al., 2004)


Tamiops swinhoei is found primarily in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia, but also occurs in temperate forests and residential gardens. It typically inhabits mountainous areas, ranging in elevation from 1,000 to 3,900 m above sea level. (Abramov, et al., 2009; Chen, 2009; Duckworth and Lunde, 2008; Li, et al., 2006; Osgood, 1941; Ren, et al., 2004)

  • Range elevation
    1,000 to 3,900 m
    to ft
  • Average elevation
    2,200 m

Physical Description

Tamiops swinhoei is small bodied, with characteristic light yellow stripes extending from nose to neck on both sides of the body. It also has characterisic white tufts of hair at the posterior tips of the ears. Cinnamon and yellow stripes run the length of the dorsum, extending from the caudal portion of the torso to the base of the tail. No data exists on the average size and weight of this species, though it appears to be larger than other members of Tamiops. In addition to having denser fur, which may help insulate it at higher elevations, dorsal stripes appear to be less brilliant than those seen in closely related species and stop at the shoulders rather than connecting with the cheek stripes. Females have longer tails than males by about 1.8%, which is typical of arboreal species. (Hayssen, 2008a; Hayssen, 2008b; Li, et al., 2006; Ren, et al., 2004)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Average mass
    60 g
    2.11 oz
  • Average length
    10 cm
    3.94 in


There is no information available concerning the mating systems of Tamiops swinhoei have not been studied; however, most species in the family Sciuridae are polygynous, and characterized by intense competition among males for access to the estrous female. (Tamura, 1993)

Little is known of the reproductive behavior of Tamiops swinhoei, however, it has an average of 3.25 neonates per litter and there are typically two litters per year. (Hayssen, 2008a)

  • Breeding interval
    Swinhoe's striped squirrel breeds twice yearly.
  • Average number of offspring

There is no information available concerning parental care in Tamiops swinhoei. (Hayssen, 2008a)


There is no information on the average lifespan of Tamiops swinhoei.


Tamiops swinhoei is diurnal and arboreal. It nests, forages and mates in the canopy and possesses strong adaptations for arboreal locomotion. It is typically social, but there is no evidence of organized social hierarchies. It primarily forages during the day, and like many seed eating mammal and bird species, creates food caches. Although little is know of the general behavior of T. swinhoei specifically, four primary behaviors have been observed during conspecific encounters of sciurids: chase, avoid, ignore, and follow. Chasing occurs primarily between adult males, whereas avoid and ignore are common between both genders and all age classes. Follow most often occurs between females and young or between males and females. (Hayssen, 2008a; Hayssen, 2008b; Tamura, 1993; Van der Meer, et al., 2008)

Home Range

The average home range size for Tamiops swinhoei is unknown. (Hayssen, 2008b)

Communication and Perception

Communication has not been described for T. swinhoei. (Tamura and Yong, 1993; Tamura, 1993)

Food Habits

Tamiops swinhoei is herbivorous, and its diet consists primarily of seeds and plant parts. It is also considered a "ginger robber" and has been found foraging in blooming patches of tropical ginger, feeding only on the nectar. Like other sciurids, T. swinhoei creates food caches throughout its home range. (Ren, et al., 2004)

  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • nectar
  • sap or other plant fluids


Predators and predation avoidance behavior have not been characterized for Tamiops swinhoei. It likely faces predation risk from the same predators faced by similar arboreal tree species occurring in Southeast Asia (e.g., canids, felids, snakes and raptors). (Tamura and Yong, 1993)

Ecosystem Roles

As seed predators, Tamiops swinhoei likely plays an important role in the distribution, abundance, and diversity of plant communities throughout its geographic range. As a "ginger robber", it may influence the reproductive success of wild tropical ginger. Ginger robbing can result in decreased seed and fruit production via damage to plant reproductive organs. However, these detrimental effects have not been described for tropical ginger plants as a result of the foraging behavior of T. swinhoei. (Ren, et al., 2004; Van der Meer, et al., 2008; Wells, et al., 2004; Wells, et al., 2007)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive effects of Tamiops swinhoei> on humans. However, hunting of small mammals is common in Southeast Asia, and this species may function as a food source for humans throughout their geographic range. (Wells, et al., 2007)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Tamiops swinhoei on humans.

Conservation Status

Tamiops swinhoei is classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. The species is common throughout Southeast Asia; however, logging and rain forest destruction is common throughout this species geographic range, particularly on Hainan Island. (Wells, et al., 2007)


Janet Minton (author), Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Mark Jordan (editor), Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, John Berini (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


having more than one female as a mate at one time


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"


uses touch to communicate


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Abramov, A., S. Kruskop, A. Shchinov. 2009. Small mammals of the Dalat Plateau, Southern Vietnam. Russian Journal of Theriolgy, 8/2: 61-73.

Chen, Y. 2009. Distribution patterns and faunal characteristic of mammals on Hainan Island of China. Folia Zoologica, 58/4: 372-384.

Duckworth, J., D. Lunde. 2008. "Tamiops swinhoei" (On-line). Accessed March 03, 2011 at www.iucnredlist.org.

Harrison, J., R. Traub. 1950. Rodents and insectivores from Selangor, Malaya. Journal of Mammalogy, 31/3: 337-346.

Hayssen, V. 2008. Patterns of body and tail length and body mass in Sciuidae. Journal of Mammalogy, 89/4: 852-873.

Hayssen, V. 2008. Reproductive effort in squirrels: ecological, phylogenetic, allometric, and latitudinal patterns. Journal of Mammalogy, 89/3: 582-606.

Li, S., Q. Feng, J. Yang, Y. Wang. 2006. Differentiation of subspecies of Asiatic striped squirrels (Tamiops swinhoei) (Milne-Edwards) (Rodentia:Sciuridae) in China with description of a new subspecies. Zoological Studies, 45/2: 180-189.

Osgood, W. 1941. Review: [untitled]. Journal of Mammalogy, 22/2: 206-208.

Ren, P., J. Gao, Q. Li, X. Deng. 2004. The striped squirrel (Tamiops swinhoie hainanus) as a nectar robber of ginger (Alpinia kwangsiensis). Biotropica, 36/4: 633-636.

Tamura, N. 1993. Role of sound communication in mating of Malaysian Callosciurus (Sciuridae). Journal of Mammalogy, 74/2: 468-476.

Tamura, N., H. Yong. 1993. Vocalizations in response to predators in three species of Malaysian Callosciurus (Sciuridae). Journal of Mammalogy, 74/3: 703-714.

Thorington, R., K. Ferrell. 2006. Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Van der Meer, P., P. Kunne, A. Brunsting, L. Dibor, P. Jansen. 2008. Evidence for scatter-hoarding in a tropical peat swamp forest in Malaysia. Journal of Tropical Foorest Science, 20/4: 340-343.

Wells, K., E. Kalko, M. Lakim, M. Pfeiffer. 2007. Effects of rain forest logging on species richness and assemblage composition of small mammals in Southeast Asia. Journal of Biogeography, 34: 1087-1099.

Wells, K., M. Pfeiffer, M. Lakim, K. Linsenmair. 2004. Use of arboreal and terrestrial space by a small mammal community in a tropical rain forest in Borneo, Malaysia. Journal of Biogeography, 31: 641-652.