Northern Tree Shrew

The Northern Tree Shrew (Tupaia belangeri) is a small insectivorous mammal from Southeast Asia. There are only around 14 species of Tupaia Tree Shrews alive today, and the Northern Tree Shrew has had more than 10 subspecies named. That being said, some specialists only recognise 2 subspecies, the nominate (Tupaia belangeri belangeri)  and the Chinese Tree Shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis). It's scientific name Tupaia is taken from the Malay word 'Tupai' meaning squirrel.

 

HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION

The northern tree shrew (also written as Treeshrew) inhabits forests in Eastern Nepal and Bangladesh to southeastern China, Indochina, and the Malay Peninsula.

 

DESCRIPTION

It's greyish-olive fur helps camouflage it as it scurries around the forest, and it's long tail helps it balance in the treetops. With an overall head and body length ranging from 6 - 9 inches (15 - 23cm), the tail is usually as long as the body, and adults have an average weight of around 200g. The northern tree shrew has no whiskers, and must therefore rely on its keen sense of vision, hearing and smell to seek out food and avoid predation.

 

Northern Tree Shrew

 

DIET, BEHAVIOUR AND REPRODUCTION

The primary diet of the northern tree shrew consists of fruit, insects and seeds. After a gestation period of 45 - 50 days, the northern tree shrew usually gives birth to 2 - 4 young. This species appears very timid and shy. This particular specimen was snapped in captivity in the Tropiquaria at Watchet.

 

STATUS

The northern tree shrew is currently listed by the IUCN as Least Concern.