- Photo credit: ©Fletcher & Baylis
- Common Names: Pallas’ squirrel
- Habitat: It is seen in evergreen forestry, woodlands, orchards and parks.
- Description: The Pallas’ squirrel is a red-bellied tree squirrel native to South East Asia. It is 37-46cm long (entire length), and weighs 309-435g. There are different colour forms for this species. The main body colour is usually olive-brown agouti; the belly colour ranges from entirely agouti to maroon with a central agouti stripe. Populations from Taiwan and Japan have no stipe along the underside. It is a particularly successful invasive alien species because it is highly adaptive and opportunistic.
- Origin and Worldwide Distribution: The Pallas’ squirrel is native to South East Asia. It was first introduced in the 1970s to Southern France as a pet. Following escapes and intentional releases, it has since established itself in forests, parks and gardens, in both suburban and rural areas. It is currently present in Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands.
- Potential or Known Impacts: The Pallas’ squirrel is a particularly successful invasive alien species because it is highly adaptive and opportunistic, feeding on almost anything from insects to nuts. Feral populations can start from a few individuals and expand rapidly, thereby out-competing, and sometimes completely eradicating the native red squirrel. Its habit of stripping the bark off trees can also bring about significant economic damage for the forestry sector.
- How did it/could it get here?
It was first to France as a pet, and became established in the wild following escapes and intentional releases.
- Is it found in Ireland or Northern Ireland? It is not present in Ireland or Northern Ireland.
Static Distribution Map as of December 2019 - Courtesy of CEDaR
- Methods for Prevention: The import of this species has already been banned through the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation, but its inclusion on the Union list of Invasive Alien Species will ensure further concerted action to contain its invasion and prevent its spread into other countries.
- Current Legislative Position (Listed on 03 August 2016) This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment. For further queries, you can contact the Non Native Invasive Species Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558.