Perth residents are being urged to assist the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) by reporting any sightings of Indian palm squirrels in the metropolitan area.
DAFWA Biosecurity Officer Darryl Stewart said an assessment carried out by the department rated the squirrel as an extreme pest risk and it was recognised nationally as a significant potential pest posing a threat to agriculture, the environment and social amenity.
Indian palm squirrels colonised an area around Perth Zoo in South Perth after they were released in the grounds just over 100 years ago.
“They regularly appear in other Perth suburbs, even as far away as Wyalkatchem and Bullsbrook, due to possible deliberate or accidental movement,” Mr Stewart said.
“DAFWA has recently removed squirrels from these areas.”
Indian palm squirrels nest in trees, particularly pine trees or exotic palms, and also live in or close to houses and gardens.
“The squirrel poses a major threat to orchards and market gardens, damaging a wide range of fruit, nut and vegetable crops,” Mr Stewart said.
He said the squirrels often damaged garden plants and trees by eating the fruits and buds and had also been known to damage electrical wiring in houses.
“They can impact adversely on native birds nesting in city parks and gardens,” he said. “They are another introduced rodent species that doesn’t belong in Western Australia.”
Indian palm squirrels are about the size of rats with a bushy tail.
“Their backs are grey-brown in colour with five white stripes that run from head to tail, with a creamy white belly and a tail covered with long black and white hairs,” Mr Stewart said. “They move with rapid darting movements and are good climbers.”
All squirrel sightings should be reported to the Department of Agriculture’s Pest and Disease Information Service on freecall 1800 084 881.
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937