MAMMAL TOURS IN SRI LANKA – LAND MAMMALS

Sri Lanka has many interesting mammals other than Asian Elephants and Leopards to offer enthusiastic mammal watchers. There is a total of 126 species of land mammals recorded to date in Sri Lanka, including 21 species endemic to the Island.

It is possible to watch many of the diurnal mammals listed below on our usual bird or wildlife watching tours. However, if a keen mammal watcher or wildlife observer is interested in finding most or all of the mammals in this list, which includes some difficult species (due to being rare and/or elusive) and nocturnal species, it is best to take a special mammal watching tour with us.

Such a specialized tour can be tailored by replacing and/or adding special sites in the given itineraries according to the species wanted by the client . Our team members have acquired special knowledge of such sites to find the difficult and nocturnal species, and thus enable mammal watchers to have a better chance of finding these interesting animals.

Our most popular special mammal watching tours during the past 12 years have been on the lines of looking especially for nocturnal species such as small cats (Fishing Cat, Rusty-spotted Cat and Jungle Cat), civets, lorises, bats, flying squirrels and other rodents. On our tours we carefully avoid counting the hybrid small cats (between the wild and the domestic F. catus) which are fairly freely encountered roaming in the wild areas close to human habitation as well as in the wilderness areas. We search for only the true wild individuals of the small cats at the habitats, those correctly baring their species-specific features. (See text box below for more details).

 

Be aware!

Hybrid Small Wild Cats

During our experience in carrying out highly successful mammal tours for over a decade in Sri Lanka our Team has learnt that there are hybrid small cats between each of our three wild species and the domestic cat Felis catus, which are encountered fairly freely, roaming in wild areas close to human habitation as well as in wilderness areas. We have found a high number of hybrids with both Rusty Spotted Cat and Fishing Cat, and a little less with Jungle Cat, in the wild areas.

Some of these hybrids are very similar to the respective wild forms in their appearance. Therefore, separating and identifying a true wild cat safely needs great care in the dark and very good and preferably prolonged views if someone is not very familiar with these three species. It is only from certain specific features that it is possible to tell safely whether the small cat under observation is a hybrid or true wild animal.

When a prolonged view is not possible then it is necessary to quickly compare these features of the true wild cats and of the hybrids to tell them apart accurately on location. After studying these hybrid cats carefully in field observations and in our photo collection we have developed a successful identification method to separate the true wild individuals and the hybrids in poor light conditions. We have now compiled an illustrated guide to safely identify them apart in our night explorations and a reference copy will be with our tour leaders on mammal tours.

Our mammal tour leaders are very conversant with these methods. They search for only the true wild individuals of the small cats, those correctly bearing their species-specific features, during our exploration of their habitats. Our leaders are very knowledgeable in explaining the differences between the hybrid and wild individuals to our clients. This also means they count only the true wild cats on their mammal lists.

 

Note: This is a reference guide, and not for sale

These tours have been highly successful owing to the unrivalled knowledge and experience of our Expert Tour Leaders in the identification of mammals,  their habits and habitats. The tour reports of some of our special mammal watching tours can be viewed at http://www.mammalwatching.com/Oriental/orientsrilanka.html

The table below shows the number of possible sites for each species and the number of chances available to try for them in each itinerary.





The list below follows classification, taxonomy and nomenclature of species in this list follow Mammals of the World:

a Checklist (2004) A. Duff & A. Lawson. The sequence of taxa is based on The Mammals of the Indomalayan Region (1992) by G.B. Corbet and J. E. Hill. References to recent revision in a few taxa are given after the table.

Note: If the number of ‘chances’ for a species is more than the number of ‘sites’ this indicates that the possibility of finding that species is significantly high and thus it can be expected to be seen on most of our tours. Such species usually seen on most tours are also indicated with: #

E – Endemic to Sri Lanka

SpeciesNumber of possible sites and chances in each itinerary
Itinerary 1Itinerary 2Itinerary 3Itinerary 4
SitesChancesSitesChancesSitesChancesSitesChances
Indian Hare Lepus nigricollis10121113111356
Sri Lanka Giant Squirrel Ratufa macroura 10121012111368
India Palm squirrel Funambulus palmarum1520152015201012
Sri Lanka Jungle Squirrel Funambulus layardi ¹ E34343434
Dusky-Stripped jungle Squirrel Funambulus sublineatus57575757
Indian Giant Flying Squirrel Ptaurista philippensis55555511
Eastern House Mouse   Mus musculus10101010101088
House Rat Rattus rattus10101010101088
Indian Gerbil Tatera indica 454545
Indian Crested Porcupine Hystrix indica222222
Small Indian Civet Viverricula indica 45564511
Asian Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus88888856
Golden Palm-Civet Paradoxurus zeylonensis      E22222222
Jungle Cat Felis chaus 33443311
Rusty-spotted Cat Felis rubiginosa111111
Fishing Cat Felis viverrina55555522
Leopard Panthera pardus44445511
Indian Grey Mongoose Herpestes edwardsii45454512
Ruddy Mongoose Herpestes smithii81081091256
Indian Brown Mongoose Herpestes fuscus45454523
Striped-Necked Mongoose Herpestes vitticollis34343411
Golden Jackal Canis aureus67677812
Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus111122
Eurasian Otter Lutra lutra 33223333
Asian House Shrew  Suncus murinus55556733
Horsfield’s Shrew  Crocidura horsfieldi22222222
Indian Flying  Fox   Pteropus giganteus142012181624812
Greater Short-nosed Fruit Bat Cynopterus sphinx44444422
Woolly Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus luctus 22222211
Rufous Horseshoe Bat  Rhinolophus rouxii46464622
Dusky Roundleaf Bat Hipposideros ater22222222
Indian Roundleaf Bat Hipposideros lankadiva22222211
Round-eared Tube-nosed Bat Murina cyclotis 22222211
Painted Bat  Kerivoula picta56675623
Hardwicke’s Woolly Bat  Kerivoula hardwickii33333311
Red  Slender Loris Loris tardigradus E23232323
Grey Slender Loris Loris lydekkerianus  221122
Toque Macaque Macaca sinica E101410141216710
Tufted Grey Langur Semnopithecus priam81079101224
Purple-Faced Leaf Monkey Trachypithecus vetulusE79797968
Eurasian Wild Boar Sus scrofa 81081091223
Sri Lanka White-spotted Chevrotain Moschiola meminna ²E10101111111244
Sri Lanka Yellow-spotted Chevrotain Moschiola kathygre ²E10101111111244
Sambur Cervus unicolor 57575735
Chital  Axis axis 81581591712
Indian Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak 55666722
Domestic Water Buffalo Bubalus bubalis35464611
Asian Elephant Elephas maximus696971024
  • Srinivasulu C, Chakraborty S, and Pradhan M S. 2004. Checklist of Sciurids (Mammalia: Rodentia: Sciuridae) of South Asia. Zoo’s Print Journal 19: 1351-1360.
  • Groves C P and Meijaard E. 2005. Interspecific variation in Moschiola, the Indian Chevrotain. The Raffles Bul. of Zoology. Supliment 12: 413-421.