Are Squirrels in Australia? [Expert’s Answer]

Author: Simon N. R. is a dedicated squirrel enthusiast, who has spent years observing and interacting with squirrels across the globe, amassing a wealth of knowledge about these fascinating creatures.

As an experienced squirrel enthusiast who has studied squirrels across the globe, I’m often asked: are there squirrels in Australia? After extensive research, the answer is no – there are no native squirrel species on the Australian continent. However, two non-native species were introduced from overseas in the late 19th century. Finally, those squirrels have been successfully eradicated from Australia.

In this article, I’ll share comprehensive research on squirrels in Australia, including key facts on where they can be found, what species exist, their origins, ecology, and potential threats.

Main Facts:

  • No native squirrel species lived in Australia originally. The continent has marsupials like possums instead.
  • Two non-native squirrel species were brought to Australia – the American Grey and Northern Palm squirrel.
  • The Grey squirrel was imported to Melbourne around 1880. The Northern Palm squirrel arrived in Perth in 1898.
  • The populations of these introduced squirrels have been eradicated and considered invasive pests according to Australian law.

Quote from J. H. Seebeck‘s publication: “The Grey Squirrel is now apparently extinct in Australia (Seebeck 1984). Palm Squirrels are extinct in Sydney, but a flourishing feral colony based on Perth Zoo still exists. A captive colony has been established (1979) at Melbourne Zoo, Victoria. A similar colony at Adelaide Zoo has died out.”Source.

Where were Introduced Squirrels Found

Introduced squirrels were found in Australia, particularly in Melbourne and Ballarat in Victoria. In addition to these locations, there were records of Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) present in Adelaide, South Australia, from 1917 to about 1922, when they were eradicated.

The founder animals of the Adelaide Grey Squirrel population were likely sourced from the Melbourne population.

In Adelaide, these squirrels were initially established through escapes from zoological gardens and animals privately sourced from Toorak, Victoria.

The introduced Grey Squirrels were primarily restricted to urban plantings of northern hemisphere trees in these areas. However, they were subsequently eradicated, with the last recorded sighting in 1922.

The eradication of the Grey Squirrels from Adelaide is significant as it contributes to our understanding of achieving success in pest management and eradication of introduced species in urban environments.

How They Adapted

With excellent climbing and jumping abilities, squirrels have adapted well to living in trees across diverse habitats from tropical to temperate regions. Their bushy tails provide balance and agility in the treetops.

Squirrels are invasive species and therefore they have been eradicated from Australia.

Diet and Behavior

Grey squirrels mostly eat nuts, seeds, fruits, and fungi. Palm squirrels consume fruits, insects, and sometimes small vertebrates. Both species bury food caches for lean times.

Native Animals that may be mistaken for squirrels

Australia is home to a diverse array of native wildlife, but it does not have native squirrel species.

Instead, the continent boasts unique animals such as the Common Brushtail Possum found throughout the country, the Brush-tailed Phascogale in various regions, gliders like the Yellow-bellied Glider, Sugar Glider, or Squirrel Glider in the north and east, and the Numbat, which has isolated populations in south-western Australia.

Researchers and wildlife enthusiasts in Australia often focus their studies on these native marsupials and gliders, rather than squirrels.


In conclusion, Australia has no native squirrel species but introduced squirrels briefly appeared in Melbourne, Ballarat, and Adelaide in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, these introduced populations were successfully eradicated.

The continent’s unique native wildlife, such as the Common Brushtail Possum, Yellow-bellied Glider, Sugar Glider, and Numbat, continues to be the focus of conservation and research efforts.