SPINY SQUIRREL, a book-name for a group of African ground squirrels, characterized by the spiny nature of the fur of the more typical forms. They form the genus Xerus, which is split up into a number of subgenera; Xerus rutilus of Abyssinia and East Africa belonging to the typical group, while the striped North African X.
That they are essential is evident from the circumstance that the African spiny squirrels Xerus (see SPINY SQUIRREL) come between Sciurus and some of the other African genera.
The fur varies exceedingly in character, - in some, like the chinchillas and hares, being fine and soft, while in others it is more or less replaced by spines on the upper surface, as in spiny rats and porcupines; these spines in several genera, as Xerus, Acomys, Platacanthomys, Echinothrix, Loncheres and Echinomys, being flattened.
Stangeri, allied in the characters of their skulls to the undermentioned Xerus, and with a very large pre-orbital foramen in the more typical forms. The third, Funisciurus, of which F.
Pyrrhopus is a well-known example, is also African and allied to Xerus, but has a still longer skull and soft fur.
In Xerus itself, which is represented by the terrestrial African spiny squirrels, the ears are short, there are only two teats, and flat spines are mingled with the fur; while the skull, and more especially the frontals, is elongated, with a very short post-orbital process, and the crowns of the molars are taller than usual (see Spiny Squirrel).
The well-known Indian palm-squirrel, Funambulus palmarum, typifies an Indo-Malay genus allied to Xerus in skull-characters but with molars more like those of Sciurus.