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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Incredible Indian Palm Squirrel Facts For Kids

One of the best Indian palm squirrel facts is that the scientific name of the Indian palm squirrel is Funambulus palmarum.

The Indian palm squirrel (Funambulus palmarum) is a small animal with very distinguished body features. Palm squirrels have four toes on each of their paws, which includes their rudimentary thumb. Their paws are clawed, allowing them to climb giant trees, and they have back ankles that can rotate a full 180 degrees. This aids them while getting down from trees because their back paws can turn and are known to have strong grips on them.

Like any other squirrel, these native palm squirrels from India are a type of rodent, hence their teeth keep growing throughout their life. Therefore, they are often seen gnawing on hard nuts which helps them to keep their front incisors in perfect condition and at a healthy size. Their teeth are arranged so that their incisors are used to break the food, usually the hard shells of nuts, and after that, their cheek teeth help them to grind on that food and make it digestible. The gap that exists between their incisors and cheek teeth is called a diastema.

Being an omnivorous animal, Indian palm squirrels can eat just about anything as food but are generally seen preferring fruits and nuts. Palm squirrels in India are known to munch on crops like sugarcane, mangos, apples, grapes, and nuts. If an Indian palm squirrel ever finds its way into a farm, it won't shy away from eating the crops or eggs, or even tiny chicks that might, unfortunately, stumble upon its path. Their invasive nature is what can make them a dangerous species, however, to look at them in a more positive light, they often also end up eating lots of caterpillars and small insects that are known to damage crops.

A relation to the Indian palm squirrel, the wild northern palm squirrel from Australia will eat anything from smaller insects to smaller animals and sometimes even smaller reptiles and birds as well. Fortunately, these northern palm squirrels highly prefer eating fruits and nuts, and seeds.

As Indian palm squirrels are very common in India, they are often seen around public places where they sometimes patiently wait for their human friends to hand them food. Find out more about this animal here, or read our guide to the Eurasian wolf and the uakari to learn more about other animals!

Indian Palm Squirrel Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Indian palm squirrel?

Native to the northern part of India, the Indian three-striped palm squirrel is a rodent. It belongs to the mammals family and feeds on fruits and peanuts.

What class of animal does an Indian palm squirrel belong to?

The Indian palm squirrel is classified under the class Mammalia and order Rodentia as this squirrel gives birth to its young directly and then cares for them until they become adults. Usually having two to three pups or kittens in a litter, the female squirrel has her hands full while taking care of her young, and keeping them protected from predators like birds and cats is a big challenge for them. Still, considering how they're listed as a species of Least Concern, we can be assured that these mother squirrels are doing their job very well.

How many Indian palm squirrels are there in the world?

No specific number is given of the population of the three-striped palm squirrel. However, the population of their cousins in Australia is known to be well over 10,000.

Where does an Indian palm squirrel live?

Preferring to occupy dense forests and jungles of tropical regions, Indian palm squirrels are mainly found in India and Sri Lanka. This three-striped palm squirrel prefers to inhabit warm and humid areas, and they are often seen building their nests on top of trees, including palm trees. The nest of an Indian palm squirrel is known as a dray, and they weave it from grass. These are the only squirrel species that don't go into hibernation during winter, as these squirrels just lay inside their nests until the day turns warm enough for them to roam outside.

What is an Indian palm squirrel's habitat?

Treetops, mainly palm trees, are these squirrels' preferred habitat, hence their name, the Indian palm squirrel (Funambulus palmarum). They thrive in their native warm tropical humid climates. Slightly larger than a chipmunk, their diet includes eating nuts and fruits, and sometimes small animals or insects for food. With long black and white fur, their ears are small and shaped like a triangle, and they have a cute bushy tail. Their population grows sporadically and no exact data is available on their current population.

Who do Indian palm squirrels live with?

This species of three-striped palm squirrels are known to be solitary animals who only come together for mating. They come together to breed in the breeding season in fall. They are seen chasing each other, and males are known to have mating calls that they use to impress females with. It is also known that males can determine if a female is ready to mate just from their sense of smell. After a 34 day long gestation period, females give birth to around two or three babies at a time. At birth, the pups are blind and hairless, and after 10 weeks, they are weaned. At nine months of age, they reach sexual maturity and are ready to reproduce themselves.

How long does an Indian palm squirrel live?

As Indian palm squirrels are small animals, they face a lot of threats through various big animals like wild cats, birds like hawks and eagles, and in some countries, even humans. Therefore, hence many are known to die in the very first year of their life. Still, on average, they are known to live for two to four years in the wild. The oldest living Indian palm squirrel lived for five and a half years.

How do they reproduce?

Indian palm squirrels reproduce sexually through mating and breeding between a male squirrel and a female squirrel. A male squirrel emits mating calls that let the female squirrel know about his location, after which breeding takes place. After mating, the females are known to carry the pups for about 34 days, after which they give birth to two to three pups. These pups born are blind and hairless and are entirely dependent on their mother for food and protection when they are young.

What is their conservation status?

Currently classified as Least Concerned, we can rest assured that this species is living and thriving in the wild and sometimes in captivity too.

Indian Palm Squirrel Fun Facts

What do Indian palm squirrels look like?

The Indian palm squirrel is almost the size of a giant chipmunk with a bushy tail that's slightly shorter than its body. Three white stripes run down from its head to its tail on its grey-brown colored back, while two white stripes flow down from its forelegs to its hind legs. It also has a cream-colored white belly and a tail covered in long and bushy black and white hair with ears that resemble small triangles. Young squirrels have a slightly lighter color which gradually darkens as they age. Even though it is very rare, albinism does exist in this species.

An Indian palm squirrel diet includes peanuts and fruits.

How cute are they?

With furry bodies covered in stripes, short legs, small triangular ears, and beautiful black eyes, these are some of the cutest miniature animals you will see. Their bushy tails are just as beautiful as their outer stripes, however, you should be cautious and avoid trying to pet a wild Indian palm squirrel as they are known to be aggressive and possessive of their food and will either quickly run away or try to bite you.

How do they communicate?

Not having an extended range of vocalization, these squirrels usually communicate by making distinct sounds like "chip chip chip". They make this sound a lot, especially when they sense danger around them. The only other sound they are known to make is the mating call that males make during breeding seasons, which serves to impress a female and let her know of the male's location and his intention of mating.

How big is an Indian palm squirrel?

An Indian palm squirrel is known to be the size of a large chipmunk. They are smaller than most animals, and one of the big differences between the northern palm squirrel from Australia and Indian Palm Squirrels is their stripes. Northern palm squirrels have five stripes, whereas Indian palm squirrels have three, but these all mean nothing when compared to their cousin, the Malabar giant squirrel who is known to be at least 10 times bigger than Indian palm squirrel!

How fast can an Indian palm squirrel move?

Indian palm squirrels are one of the fastest small animals and they can run up to 10 mph (16 kmph), which is a lot considering the small bodies that they have. Northern palm squirrels from Australia can reach similar speeds. Their fast speed comes in handy when trying to catch their small animal prey and also helps them to run away at speed when faced with a predator like a wild cat or a bird.

How much does an Indian palm squirrel weigh?

An adult Indian palm squirrel can weigh about 3.5-4.2 oz (100-200 g), and even with this weight, they are astoundingly fast. Being omnivorous animals, they can survive on a diet of nuts, fruits, eggs, and sometimes even small animals.

What are their male and female names of the species?

An Indian palm squirrel male is called a buck, whereas an Indian palm squirrel female is called a doe.

What would you call a baby Indian palm squirrel?

A baby Indian palm squirrel is called either a pup, a kit, or a kitten.

What do they eat?

Living on top of trees, you can usually see these three-striped palm squirrels munching on fruits or nuts, but if need be, they also eat eggs and hunt small insects and animals like mice.

Are they aggressive?

Usually living a solitary life, the Indian palm squirrel can be very possessive of its area and its food. If faced with a threat, they are known to become pretty aggressive and, under extreme conditions, are even known to bite.

Would they make a good pet?

Though generally wild by nature, these rodent species are known to be tamed quite easily by humans and are sometimes kept as pets in the Indian subcontinent and Sri Lanka. To look after a pet Indian palm squirrel, owners should provide them with a range of fruits and nuts including melon, cucumber, and pumpkin seeds.

Did you know...

Famously, Indian palm squirrels were known to escape and spread from Perth Zoo in Western Australia. To prevent their spread, there was an exclusion zone set up around the zoo, but as this too failed to prevent the spread of Indian palm squirrel, authorities were forced to put a pest control program in place to limit their numbers.

How long do Indian palm squirrels live?

In their habitat in the wild, Indian palm squirrels are known to for two to four years, though they often sadly end up dying within their first year. The longest living squirrel was known to live for five and a half years.

What do you call an Indian palm squirrel nest?

Their nests are built upon treetops and are called dray. This is where they spend the cold winter days and where a mother takes care of her pups.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts and information for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals, including the marsupial, or squirrel monkeys.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Indian palm squirrel coloring pages.

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