Indian palm squirrel

Native to India and neighbouring countries, palm squirrels are bushy-tailed squirrels with prominent stripes.

Five species of Indian palm squirrel exist. The three-striped palm squirrel and five-striped palm squirrel are among India’s most abundant small mammals. They are major pests of fruit crops (including mangoes), and consume the eggs of native birds. A naturalised population of the five-striped squirrel (Funambulus pennantii) exists in Perth, Western Australia.

Indian palm squirrels are suited to large areas of Queensland and could establish here if introduced. To prevent Indian palm squirrels from establishing in Queensland, restrictions apply to their import, possession and sale.

The Indian palm squirrel is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Funambulus species

Other names

  • Five-striped palm squirrel, northern palm squirrel, three-striped palm squirrel, jungle-striped squirrel

Description

  • Small mammal with body 225-400mm long (size, weight and colour vary across species).
  • Backs have prominent stripes.
  • Tails are bushy.
  • Ears are small and triangular.
  • Incisor teeth are chisel-sharp.
  • Movements are erratic.

Habitat

  • Preferred habitats vary for each species, but include dry forest, rainforest, scrub, grassland, urban areas, and parks and gardens.
  • Three-striped and five-striped palm squirrels are well suited to urban areas, plantations and open rural areas.

Distribution

  • Not yet recorded in Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Life expectancy from 18 months (wild) to 6 years (captivity).
  • Sexually mature at 9 months.
  • Breeds August-May with peaks in October and April.
  • Can have 2 litters per year of 1-5 young.

Crops affected

  • Various fruit crops (including citrus and stone fruits) and various vegetable crops.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Eats native bird eggs.
  • Could compete with native gliders for resources.

Economic

  • Could damage fruit crops such as mango, apples, pineapples and grapes.

Social

  • Urban nuisance and scavenger.

Control

  • Early detection is essential for preventing pest establishment. If you have seen or are in possession of an Indian palm squirrel, please contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Legal requirements

  • This is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be kept, moved, fed, given away or sold without a permit.
  • The Act requires all sightings to be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of Indian palm squirrels escaping until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information