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‘Vampire squirrel’ caught on camera for the first time ever

While you were offline enjoying summer and Labor Day and all that jazz, scientists caught something pretty crazy on film: A squirrel that allegedly takes down deer, vampire-style.


Well, maybe not really. All of the reports of vampiric activity in the Bornean tufted ground squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis) come from locals, and scientists have yet to observe the animal doing its thing. So it could be that this bushy-tailed squirrel is just the lucky subject of a very colorful regional myth.

[Fanged deer pops up in Afghanistan, 60 years after its last appearance]

“Dayak 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,” researchers wrote in an earlier paper, published in 2014. “In villages close to the forest edge there were also accounts of the squirrel killing domestic chickens and eating the heart and liver only.”

At that time, the squirrel had only ever been captured in blurry still images, like the mythical little beast it is.

Even with the new video footage, which was taken as part of an effort to study the local ecology, little is known about the species.

"The squirrel is elusive and mysterious with much of its basic biology unknown," Science Magazine reported

[Why these mysterious, blood-sucking fish fell from the Alaskan sky]

Scientists -- who are understandably skeptical of the vampire reports -- are more excited to see the squirrel use its tail than they are to see it use its teeth. Ironically, this supposedly vicious squirrel is one of the fluffiest things in the animal kingdom. It literally has the fluffiest tail of any mammal. According to Newsweek, the squirrel's tail is 130 percent the mass of the rest of its body.

Researchers want to know what all that fluff is for. They suspect it must be used for mate selection, but they can't be sure until they see interactions between members of the species.

And if this little fluffernut really knocks down deer and drinks their blood? Well, I guess we'll have to try to catch that on camera, too. But don't hold your breath.

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