Last Updated on April 14, 2024 by Amin Tawar

What is the National Animal of Sri Lanka?


Sri Lanka, despite its rich wildlife, does not have an officially designated national animal. However, there are three strong contenders, each with unique characteristics:

  1. Sri Lankan Lion (Panthera leo sinhaleyus): This prehistoric subspecies holds the most prominent place. Here’s why:
    • Scientific Name: Panthera leo sinhaleyus (identifies it as a subspecies)
    • Cultural Significance: Lions symbolize strength and heraldry in Sinhalese culture, even appearing on the national emblem.
  2. Sri Lankan Elephant (Elephas maximus maximus): These majestic creatures hold deep religious and cultural importance:
    • Scientific Name: Elephas maximus maximus
    • Social Intelligence: Elephants are known for their intelligence, strong social bonds, and long lifespans.
  3. Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura): This impressive rodent is the largest squirrel species in Asia:
    • Scientific Name: Ratufa macroura
    • Endemic and Unique: The Sri Lankan giant squirrel is found nowhere else on Earth and boasts a striking size and bushy tail. While its status as a national animal is debated due to potential agricultural impact, it’s still a locally admired creature.

Ever wondered what reigns supreme as Sri Lanka’s national animal? Buckle up, because the answer might surprise you! Unlike many countries, Sri Lanka boasts not one, but several contenders for this title, creating a fascinating zoological mystery.

Intrigued to learn more? Let’s delve into the unique wildlife Sri Lanka offers, from the charismatic Sri Lankan giant squirrel (Ratufa macroura), also known as the grizzled giant squirrel, to other locally cherished creatures.

Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel: National Animal or Misunderstood Rodent?

Our journey begins with the Sri Lankan giant squirrel, the largest squirrel species in Asia. Recognized by its scientific name, Ratufa macroura, this impressive rodent boasts a bushy tail and undeniable charm. However, its potential impact on agriculture has sparked debate about its official national animal status.

Beyond the Squirrel: Exploring Sri Lanka’s Rich Wildlife Tapestry

Sri Lanka’s captivating wildlife extends far beyond the giant squirrel. Keep reading to discover the other contenders for the title of national animal and embark on a virtual safari through this biodiverse island nation!

Is There an Official Animal of Sri Lanka?

The question seems straightforward: What’s the official animal of Sri Lanka? But a quick search yields a plethora of answers, leaving us more perplexed than enlightened. Elephants, lions, butterflies, and fowl—all have been touted as Sri Lanka’s national symbol. So, which one holds the truth?

What Are the National Animals of Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka doesn’t settle for just one national animal. Instead, it proudly boasts three emblematic creatures. Topping the list is the Sri Lankan giant squirrel, a charismatic arboreal dweller. Joining the roster is the vibrant Sri Lankan junglefowl, adding color to the island’s wilderness. Last but not least, the elegant Sri Lankan birdwing takes flight as the national butterfly, completing this triad of natural marvels.

Unveiling the Mysteries of the Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel

National Animal of Sri Lanka
National Animal of Sri Lanka

Have you ever encountered the enigmatic Sri Lankan giant squirrel, also known as the grizzled giant squirrel? If not, you’re not alone. This majestic creature often evades the spotlight, even among avid travelers.

Here’s a glimpse into the world of Sri Lanka’s giant squirrel:

  1. A Rare Gem: Among the four giant squirrel species worldwide, the grizzled giant squirrel stands out with its unique blend of black and gray fur, earning it the moniker “Indian grizzled giant squirrel.”
  2. Impressive Dimensions: With a body length reaching up to 18 inches and a luxuriant tail extending its stature to 25-30 inches, this squirrel commands attention in the lush forests it calls home.
  3. Scientific Identity: Identified by its scientific name, Ratufa macroura, this arboreal wonder is a proud member of the rodent family, thriving in the verdant woodlands of Sri Lanka and India.
  4. Habitat Haven: Native to Sri Lanka and India, these squirrels find sanctuary amidst the towering trees, gracefully navigating the forest canopy to evade lurking predators.
  5. Local Legends: In the Sinhalese language, the giant squirrel is affectionately referred to as “dadulena,” a nod to its esteemed presence in Sri Lankan folklore.
  6. Size Matters: While not claiming the title of the world’s largest squirrel, the Sri Lankan giant squirrel still outstrips its American counterparts, showcasing the grandeur of Asian wildlife.
  7. Highland Retreats: Within Sri Lanka, these magnificent creatures carve out their existence in the tranquil highlands of the Central and Uva Provinces, nestled amidst the breathtaking tea country.

The Curious Case of Sri Lanka’s National Animal: A Squirrel Mystery

Sri Lanka’s vibrant wildlife boasts a fascinating champion – the Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel. Surprisingly, the exact path to its national animal status remains shrouded in mystery. Extensive research hasn’t unraveled the process, and even Sri Lankans themselves seem unaware of the details.

This lack of clarity adds an intriguing layer to the Giant Squirrel’s reign. Perhaps its impressive size, bushy tail, and unique presence as Sri Lanka’s largest rodent played a role. Let’s embark on a journey to explore this enigmatic creature and delve into the captivating world of Sri Lanka’s diverse wildlife.

Unveiling Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Wonders: A Q&A Guide

Sri Lanka’s rich tapestry extends beyond its stunning landscapes. The island nation boasts a captivating array of wildlife, and some confusion might arise when searching for its national animal. Here’s a breakdown to clear things up:

1. What is the National Animal of Sri Lanka?

The Sri Lankan giant squirrel currently holds the title of national animal. However, there’s some debate regarding its future status due to potential agricultural impact.

2. Is the Sri Lankan Giant Squirrel Endangered?

Yes, the Sri Lankan giant squirrel is classified as threatened due to habitat loss and human conflict. Conservation efforts are underway to protect them in both Sri Lanka and India.

3. Lions: National Symbol or Animal?

Lions hold immense symbolic value in Sri Lanka. They appear on the national emblem and flag, representing the bravery of the Sinhalese people. “Sinhalese” itself translates to “lion people” or “people with lion blood.” While lions are an important symbol, they are not the national animal and are, in fact, extinct in Sri Lanka.

4. Why Does Wikipedia Say There’s No Official Animal?

While Wikipedia’s information may not be entirely up-to-date, the situation surrounding Sri Lanka’s national animal is indeed unique. There may not be a formal declaration, but the Sri Lankan giant squirrel is widely recognized as the national animal, as evidenced by discussions about its potential delisting.

5. Elephants: National Symbol or Animal?

Elephants hold a near-sacred status in Sri Lanka, appearing in art, religious festivals, literature, and deeply woven into the culture. However, despite their significance, they are a national symbol, not the official national animal.

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