Are There Squirrels In Australia?

Have you ever wondered where in the world squirrels live? While they are very common in the United States, can they be found in other countries around the world? Plus, do squirrels live on the island continent of Australia? Keep reading for some interesting information about squirrels!  

Are there squirrels in Australia? Squirrels are not native to Australia, but there have been some attempts to bring some of these animals over to this country. Two species of squirrels have been introduced to habitats in Australia. The American gray squirrel was introduced to Melbourne, Victoria in about 1880, and the Northern palm squirrel was introduced to Perth, Western Australia in about 1898.

Other populations of these two squirrels have been introduced at later times but to no success. The gray squirrel is now completely extinct in Australia and the only remaining population of palm squirrels in the country lives in the Perth Zoo, where they are thriving. 

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What rodents live in Australia? 

Squirrels are considered rodents and are part of the scientific order Rodentia. Even though there are no squirrels in Australia, are there any rodents that live in this country? Australia is the home to many indigenous rodents.

All of these rodents belong to the family Muridae, which is the largest family of rodents – there are over 700 species of rodents in this family that can be found in Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Some of the Muridae family members that are native to Australia are the bush tailed rabbit rat, Forrest’s mouse, grassland melomys, northern hopping mouse, and giant white-tailed rat. 

Additionally, there are four more members of the Muridae family that live in Australia that were introduced to the country as opposed to being native. These animals are the house mouse (originally from central Asia), the Pacific rat (originally from Southeast Asia), the brown rat (originally from China), and the black rat (originally from India). 

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Where do squirrels live? 

Where do squirrels live?
Where do squirrels live?

Squirrels are found on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica! There are well over 200 different species of squirrels that live throughout the world and they all have different natural habitats. Squirrels can be broken up into two main categories- tree squirrels and ground squirrels. Tree squirrels prefer to live in areas that are heavily wooded, since they live in trees. Ground squirrels live underground, in burrows and a system of tunnels.  

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What is the biggest type of squirrel? 

The largest squirrel in the world is the giant black squirrel. These squirrels can weigh up to 3.5 pounds and grow up to 22 inches long! Even though that does not seem very big, to put that in perspective; the common gray squirrel rarely weighs more than a pound and is usually no longer than 12 inches long.

The giant black squirrel is a deep brown or black color with a thick bushy tail. They are found in parts of Asia. Countries that this squirrel can be found in include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

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What is the smallest type of squirrel? 

The smallest squirrel in the world is the African pygmy squirrel. The weight of an average adult African pygmy squirrel is usually about 16.5 grams! Additionally, these squirrels rarely get bigger than 3 inches long!

Scientists believe that these squirrels have adapted to be so small because they are able to move easily on virtually every surface of the tree, from the top of the thin branch to the underside of other branches. African pygmy squirrels are found in regions of western Central Africa. Countries that this squirrel can be found in include Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the island of Bioko.  

African pygmy squirrel
African pygmy squirrel

What do squirrels eat? 

Squirrels are certainly not picky eaters – they will eat a wide variety of foods! Squirrels will eat fruits, vegetables, flowers, other plants, nuts, fungi, and even insects that they find in their natural habitat.

Squirrels that live in areas where there are a lot of people have also picked up some other habits and they will eat scraps that we leave behind. If a squirrel can get their hands on it, they will eat sandwiches or hamburger scraps, as well as food that we leave out for other animals, such as birdseed, dog food, or cat food.