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The palm squirrel is about the size of a large chipmunk, with a bushy tail slightly shorter than its body. The back is a grizzled, grey-brown colour with three conspicuous white stripes which 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. Albinism is rare, but exists in this species.
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.