Dusky Palm Squirrel / Nilgiri Striped Squirrel 

India boasts an impressive array of squirrel species, each with its own unique traits and geographical range. Among the most iconic is the Indian giant squirrel, with its stunning multicolored fur, inhabiting the forests of southern India. Urban and rural areas are also teeming with Indian palm squirrels, renowned for their lively antics. Gardens and forests across India harbor the five-striped palm squirrel, featuring five distinctive stripes that set it apart from other squirrels. While squirrels are widely admired for their vital role in seed dispersal and forest regeneration, they can also pose a nuisance to homeowners, damaging property and electrical wiring. Nonetheless, these captivating creatures form an essential part of India’s diverse and invaluable wildlife, adding to the country’s rich biological heritage.

Serial NoCharacteristicsDescription
1Common NameDusky Palm Squirrel
2Scientific NameFunambulus sublineatus
3Length18 to 25 centimeters
4ColorDusky brown on the upper side and lighter on the underside
5Height/GirthHeight: up to 15 centimeters (including the tail)
6Tail length (if mammal)Tail length: up to 12 centimeters
7Height till shoulder (if mammal)N/A
8Average Weight100 to 150 grams
9Food HabitsOmnivorous, feeds on fruits, nuts, insects, and small animals
10HabitatFound in forests, gardens, and urban areas throughout India and Sri Lanka
11Interesting FactsDusky Palm Squirrels have a distinct alarm call that warns other squirrels of potential danger, and they are known to cache food for later use. They are also excellent climbers and jumpers.


The dusky palm squirrel (Funambulus sublineatus) is a species of squirrel found in the Indian subcontinent. The upper body of the dusky palm squirrel is brownish-gray, while the underbelly is lighter in colour. They have a dark stripe that runs from their head to their tail, with white patches above and below the stripe.

Dusky palm squirrels have bushy tails that are almost as long as their body. They have sharp claws and a pointed snout. Their eyes are large and dark, and their ears are small and round.

The males and females of this species are similar in size, with a head and body length of around 16-18 cm (6-7 inches), and a tail length of around 15-17 cm (6-7 inches). They typically weigh between 70-100 grams (2.5-3.5 ounces).

Dusky palm squirrels are agile climbers and spend most of their time in trees. They are also diurnal (active during the day) and are known to be quite vocal, communicating with chirps, squeaks, and chatters. In urban areas, they are often found in parks and gardens and can become quite tame around people. Dusky palm squirrels are also known for their ability to store food for later use, hiding it in tree crevices or burying it in the ground.

Food Habits

In terms of their diet, dusky palm squirrels are omnivores and feed on a variety of foods. Their diet consists of fruits, nuts, seeds, insects, small vertebrates, and bird eggs. They are known to raid bird nests to feed on eggs and chicks.

In urban areas, dusky palm squirrels may also consume human food, such as bread and fruits. However, this is not a healthy diet for them and can lead to health problems.


Dusky palm squirrels are found in Nilgiri mountains in India. They have developed their unique colouration and lifestyle living in these forests.

Dusky palm squirrels prefer habitats with trees and shrubs, such as forests, plantations, and gardens. They are adaptable and can also be found in agricultural areas and human settlements.

Vulnerable Species

The dusky palm squirrel is considered Vulnerable species and its population is considered stable. However, there is limited information on the exact number of dusky palm squirrels in India.

The main threat to dusky palm squirrels is habitat loss due to deforestation and urbanisation. As their natural habitats are destroyed or fragmented, their populations may decline. Other threats include hunting for food or sport and roadkill.

While there is no comprehensive estimate of the dusky palm squirrel population in India, they are widespread and common across their range. In urban areas, they are often seen in parks and gardens, and can become quite tame around people. They are also known to adapt well to human-altered environments and may even thrive in urban areas.

Protected Areas

Situated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Mudumalai National Park is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. The park is home to many species of animals, including elephants, tigers, and the dusky palm squirrel.

Bandipur National Park, Karnataka in the southern state of Karnataka is home to a variety of wildlife, including tigers, elephants, and sloth bears. The park also has a sizable population of dusky palm squirrels.

Silent Valley National Park, Kerala in the southern state of Kerala is a biodiversity hotspot and is known for its unique flora and fauna. The park is home to several species of primates, as well as the dusky palm squirrel.

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