While monkeys and bears hurried to build the bridge, dragging huge trees and enormous rocks to the seashore, a squirrel wanted to help too. The squirrel rolled in the sand, ran to the bridge, and shook the sand out of his fur. Again and again.
Then an angry monkey kicked the squirrel out of the way. "We need real workers!" he shouted.
But Rama rebuked the monkey. "The squirrel's work matters," explained Rama. "That sand is filling gaps between the stones."
In gratitude, Rama ran his fingers over the squirrel's back.
That is why the squirrels of India have stripes.
Inspired by: Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik.
Notes: This story is on p. 209 of the book. Pattanaik explains that this legend appears in the Telugu Ranganatha Ramayana and the Odia Dandi Ramayana.