Indian Palm Squirrel

Indian Palm Squirrel

Three-striped palm squirrel , Indian palm squirrel, Three-striped palm squirrel

4 languages
Funambulus palmarum
Population size
Life Span
2-5.5 yrs
Top speed
16 km/h
100 g

The Indian palm squirrel or three-striped palm squirrel (Funambulus palmarum ) is a species of rodent in the family Sciuridae found naturally in India (south of the Vindhyas) and Sri Lanka. In the late 19th century, the palm squirrel was introduced to Madagascar, Réunion, Mayotte, Comoro Islands, Mauritius, Seychelles and Australia, where it has since become a minor pest. The closely related five-striped palm squirrel, F. pennantii, is found in northern India, and its range partly overlaps with this species.


The Indian palm squirrel is a species of rodent native to India and Sri Lanka. It is about the size of a large chipmunk, with a bushy tail slightly shorter than its body. The back is a grizzled, grey-brown color with three conspicuous white stripes that run from head to tail. The two outer stripes run from the forelegs to the hind legs only. It has a creamy-white belly and a tail covered with interspersed, long, black, and white hair. The ears are small and triangular. Juvenile squirrels have significantly lighter coloration, which gets progressively darker as they age.



Biogeographical realms

Indian palm squirrels are found in India (south of the Vindhyas) and Sri Lanka. They live in tropical dry forests, rainforests, mangrove forests, grasslands, scrub, parks, gardens, and urban areas.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Indian palm squirrels are solitary and only come together during the breeding season. They are active during the day spending their time both in trees and on the ground. Indian palm squirrels are busy and fairly vocal creatures, producing a cry that sounds like "chip chip chip" when danger is present. They are usually very protective of their food sources, often guarding and defending them from birds and other squirrels. Unlike some other species of squirrel, Indian palm squirrel do not hibernate. They are opportunists in urban areas and can be easily tamed and trained to accept food from humans.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Indian palm squirrels are omnivores. They feed mainly on nuts and fruits but will also eat seeds, insects, small mammals and reptiles, eggs, and even sometimes chicks of birds.

Mating Habits

35 days
2-3 kittens
10 weeks
pup, kit, kitten

Indian palm squirrels breed in autumn. They become extremely active during this time and chase each other producing mating calls. After the gestation period of about 35 days, females give birth to 2 or 3 young in grass nests. The pups are born blind, naked, and helpless. They are weaned after about 10 weeks and become reproductively mature at 9 months of age.


Population threats

There are no major threats to Indian palm squirrels at present.

Population number

According to IUCN, the Indian palm squirrel is locally common throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are increasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • In the late 19th century, the Indian palm squirrel was introduced to Madagascar, Réunion, Mayotte, Comoro Islands, Mauritius, Seychelles, and even Australia.
  • The closest relative of the Indian palm squirrel is the Five-striped palm squirrel which occurs in northern India, and their range partly overlaps.
  • Unlike some other species of squirrel, the Indian palm squirrel does not hibernate.
  • According to legend, during the construction of the Rama Setu (bridge) at Rameswaram town by Lord Rama and the Vanara Sena, a little squirrel also contributed in its own little way. It rolled in the beach sand and then ran to the end of the bridge to shake off the sand from its back. Lord Rama, pleased by the creature's dedication, caressed the squirrel's back and ever since, the Indian squirrel carried white stripes on its back, which are believed to be the mark of Lord Rama's fingers.
  • Squirrels are considered sacred by Hindus and are not to be harmed. They are even fed by many Hindu families, mainly because of their association with Lord Rama.


1. Indian Palm Squirrel on Wikipedia -
2. Indian Palm Squirrel on The IUCN Red List site -

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