Are There Squirrels in Thailand?

Squirrels in Thailand

A Peek into the Treetops: Discovering Thailand’s Squirrel Species and Their Habitats

It just occurred to me that often when I’m out for a walk here on Koh Chang hear a rustling on the trees and look up, expecting to see a bird or even monkey, I see a little bushy tail disappearing into the foliage.

So I thought I’d answer a question that pops up on travel forums: “Are there squirrels in Thailand?”  An unexpected query, perhaps, but one worth exploring. After all, as curious wanderers of the world, aren’t we all fascinated by the flora and fauna that give every place its unique character? 

If you just came to this page looking for a quick answer to the question “Are there squirrels in Thailand?” it is an unequivocal “Yes!”  

These charming animals inhabit many corners of the country, from urban parks to lush national forests. And although they may not be the first animal that springs to mind when you think of Thai wildlife, squirrels play an essential part in Thailand’s complex and vibrant ecosystem. 

Whether you’re planning a journey through Thailand’s bustling cities, or dreaming of serene days in the country’s lush parks and forests, getting to know the local wildlife adds an extra dimension of excitement and intrigue to your adventure. And, when it comes to local wildlife, small mammals often play an enormous role in the ecosystem’s balance and health. Understanding these animals, like squirrels, can not only enrich your travels but also deepen your connection with the natural world.

So, if you’ve ever been intrigued by the question of whether you’d encounter a squirrel while sipping a chai tea in a Bangkok café or trekking in the Northern hills, then read on. This is the travel guide for you. 

Understanding the Wildlife in Thailand

Thailand is a country that boasts an astounding level of biodiversity. From the dense, lush jungles of the Northern provinces to the shimmering, azure seas of the Andaman coastline, the country’s diverse habitats serve as the perfect home for a dazzling array of creatures. From majestic elephants to elusive clouded leopards and intricate bird species, Thailand’s wildlife truly is a spectacle to behold. But among these grandeur, let’s not overlook the smaller stars of this biodiverse cast – the small mammals, which play a crucial role in the ecosystem’s overall health and functionality.

Small mammals, such as squirrels, bats, and shrews, are often referred to as the “little things that run the world.” They are fundamental to the ecosystem’s cycle of life, serving roles as varied as seed dispersal, a source of prey for larger animals, and even as pollinators. And in Thailand, small mammals, including a variety of squirrel species, play these crucial roles, subtly influencing the broader environmental dynamics while going about their daily lives in tree canopies or forest floors.

So, next time you’re on a trekking adventure in the Northern hills or simply enjoying a peaceful afternoon in one of Bangkok’s verdant parks, take a moment to appreciate these tiny custodians of nature. Their importance might not be immediately apparent, but they’re the unsung heroes of Thailand’s beautiful ecosystems.

The aim of this mini-guide is to shed light on one of these small, yet significant players – squirrels in Thailand, their types, habitats, and how they add to the charm of Thai wildlife. After all, knowing our furry friends a bit better could just be the extra touch to make your travel in Thailand an even more memorable one :-)

Himalayan and red flying squirrel

Himalayan and Red Flying squirrels in Thailand

The Squirrel Family: A Global Perspective

Squirrels belong to the Sciuridae family, and they’ve made themselves at home across the globe. From the dense jungles of Borneo to the mighty redwood forests of California, squirrels are truly a cosmopolitan bunch. Their family is a diverse one, including ground squirrels, tree squirrels, flying squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs.

Squirrels, in all their varied forms, have adapted to a wide range of habitats. They’re equally comfortable swinging from the branches of a tropical rainforest as they are scampering through a suburban backyard. Their diet is equally diverse and depends on their specific species and environment, but most types of squirrels are primarily herbivores, munching happily on everything from nuts and seeds to fruits and plant shoots.

But what about Thailand, I hear you ask? In the next section of our journey, we’ll explore which species have carved out a niche in Thailand, where they live, and how they contribute to the rich tapestry of Thai wildlife. 

What Species of Squirrel are Found in Thailand?

Thailand is home to various species of squirrels due to its diverse tropical and subtropical habitats. Some of the more common species that can be found in Thailand include:

Finlayson’s Squirrel or Variable Squirrel (Callosciurus finlaysonii): This is a colorful tree squirrel species. It is named after the Scottish naturalist George Finlayson. It’s highly variable in color and is found in many regions of Thailand. They are most commonly seen in urban parks and gardens.

Pallas’s Squirrel (Callosciurus erythraeus): This species is found in the forests and woodlands of Thailand, especially in the northern parts of the country. They’re also known to inhabit human-modified environments, such as gardens and parks.

Indochinese Ground Squirrel (Menetes berdmorei): As the name suggests, this species is a ground-dwelling squirrel that can be found in the forests of Thailand.

Black Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor): This large tree squirrel can be found in the forests of Thailand, particularly in protected national parks.

Himalayan Striped Squirrel (Tamiops macclellandii): This small squirrel species is found in forests throughout northern Thailand. They’re often spotted running along branches and leaping from tree to tree.

Red-cheeked Squirrel (Dremomys rufigenis): This squirrel species is found in the evergreen forests of northern and western Thailand.

In all there are almost 30 species of squirrels found in Thailand. This diversity only adds to the richness of the country’s wildlife tapestry. It speaks volumes about the country’s vibrant ecosystems and the wide array of life they support. So, as you trek through a national park or even sit in a city garden during your Thai adventure, keep your eyes peeled for these lively residents. You just might spot a squirrel flashing its bushy tail as it darts up a tree or gracefully gliding from one branch to another in the twilight.

In our next section, we’ll discuss where exactly you might be able to spot these delightful creatures in Thailand. 

Where to Spot Squirrels in Thailand

Ready to meet some squirrels  . . . here’s where and how to find these furry little acrobats.

In urban areas, squirrels are frequently spotted in city parks and gardens. For instance, Lumpini Park in Bangkok, with its extensive tree cover, is a great place to spot the nimble Plantain Squirrel darting between the branches and Finlayson’s Squirrels are also often spotted. Don’t be surprised to see them scampering around in search of food or playfully chasing each other through the trees. 

And you can find red squirrels pretty much everywhere in Thailand.  Look in the trees in the gardens in your resort, especially early morning, and you may well spot one or at least hear a mysterious rustling.  

As for the more elusive species like the Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel, you might need to venture into the tranquility of Thailand’s national parks and forests. Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to various squirrel species and an excellent place to start. Keep in mind, though, these shy creatures are primarily nocturnal, so your best chance to spot them would be during dawn or dusk.

Doi Inthanon National Park, in the mountainous Chiang Mai province, is another prime squirrel-spotting location. Here, amidst the cool mountain air and diverse flora, you can often see the Himalayan Striped Squirrel and others scurrying about.

While there’s no guaranteed time or place to see these critters, as they are wild animals with minds of their own, early mornings and late afternoons are usually prime squirrel activity hours. Keep your eyes on the trees, listen for the rustling of leaves, and have your camera at the ready!

Squirrel on power lines in Lumpini Park, central Bangkok

Coexisting with Squirrels During Travel

Now that we’re equipped with the knowledge of where to spot these energetic little furballs in Thailand, it’s equally important to discuss how we can responsibly interact with them. After all, our aim as travelers should be to admire and appreciate wildlife while minimizing our impact on their natural behavior and habitats.

First and foremost, remember the golden rule of wildlife observation: look, but don’t touch. Squirrels may look cute and cuddly, but they are wild animals and can become distressed if humans try to handle them. They can also bite or scratch if they feel threatened, which is something you definitely want to avoid.

Next, resist the urge to feed the squirrels. Human food, even if it’s fruit or nuts, might not be suitable for them and can lead to health issues. Feeding squirrels also encourages them to become dependent on human-provided food and lose their natural foraging instincts, which is detrimental to their survival in the wild.

While photographing or filming, maintain a safe and respectful distance. Close-up shots can stress out these creatures, disrupting their normal behavior. Use a zoom lens for close-ups or enjoy the spectacle of squirrel acrobatics with your own eyes, creating memories rather than photo albums.

Lastly, always remember to leave no trace. This principle isn’t just applicable to squirrels but to all wildlife and ecosystems. Carry your rubbish with you, stay on designated paths, and respect the natural home of these animals.

By following these simple yet crucial guidelines, we can ensure that our interactions with the squirrels in Thailand, and indeed all wildlife, remain positive and have minimal impact on their natural way of life. This approach to eco-travel in Thailand helps maintain the health and diversity of these amazing ecosystems for generations of future travelers to appreciate.

Final Thoughts . . . 

So there you have it, folks! Your go-to guide to spotting and observing squirrels in Thailand. S

Far from being simple curiosities, these tiny mammals are essential contributors to the health and vitality of Thailand’s ecosystems. Whether in the dense northern forests or the green heart of bustling Bangkok, squirrels are a constant presence, carrying out their critical roles as seed dispersers and prey for larger animals.

potting these lively creatures in their natural habitat can be a thrilling addition to your Thai adventure, whether you’re an avid wildlife enthusiast or simply a casual observer.  Remember to keep an eye out for that flicker of movement in the treetops or that soft rustling of leaves. From the agile Plantain Squirrel, who’s just as comfortable in a city park as a forest, to the more elusive Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel, living quietly in the mountain forests, squirrels in Thailand contribute significantly to the country’s wildlife diversity.

But more than just spotting them, I hope you learn to appreciate these small mammals and the immense role they play in nature here in Thailand and in your home country.

Koh Chang Island Guide For Independent Travellers