The African pygmy squirrel claims the distinction of being the world's smallest squirrel. This tiny tree squirrel, which is not much larger than a mouse, measures about 2.5-3 inches long with a tail about 2 inches long, and weighs around half an ounce. It is also one of the lesser-studied squirrels in the world. It inhabits forests of western central Africa, in the countries of Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and northwestern Congo, although the range may actually be larger than this area.
African pygmy squirrels live comfortably in a variety of different kinds of forest habitat within their range. Whatever the forest type, they are most often found in the lower levels from the floor to about 5 meters. When not active, they spend their time in nests made of leaves. The coloring is buff on the back, and olive-white on the belly.
Like most tree squirrels, African pygmy squirrels are diurnal, or active during the day. They live alone, but are not fiercely territorial. When they sense danger, they make a faint peeping noise to warn nearby squirrels of the threat.
Days are spent foraging for food on tree trunks. Individuals run up and down in trees, pulling off pieces of bark. They are omnivorous, feeding on bark fragments, fungus, oil droplets, termites, ants, and pieces of fruit. Unlike most tree squirrels, African pygmy squirrels do not store food in caches.
Very little is known about the mating habits of African pygmy squirrels. It is thought that usually one or two young are born, and as with most tree squirrels, the females provide all of the care and feeding for the young.
Unfortunately, the African pygmy squirrel is classified as vulnerable. Although not much is known about its total numbers or even its range, this tiny squirrel is threatened by habitat loss through deforestation.