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Tree Shrews: Scandentia

Behavior And Reproduction

In general, tree shrews are active during the day. The pen-tailed tree shrew is nocturnal, meaning that it is active at night. Researchers do not know a lot about the behavior of tree shrews. One reason is that they are difficult to observe because they are highly active animals that move quickly and constantly.

All tree shrews have the ability to climb trees. They use their sharp claws to dig into the trees and branches as they climb. Many species are arboreal, while others find their food and spend a great deal of time on the ground. Tree shrews commonly use the same paths along the ground or on branches to reach their favorite feeding or resting areas.

They have well-developed senses of vision, hearing, and smell. These animals typically catch food with their snout, and use their hands only when they cannot reach their food. They may grab hold of flying insects with their hands. They eat in a style similar to squirrels, hunching on their hind legs while holding the food in their arms and eating it.

Most species nest in holes in tree trunks or branches. These animals make a nest of dried leaves, twigs, and soft wood. Tree shrews are territorial, meaning they protect their own territory. They release droplets of urine and scent to mark their territory. Tree shrews have specialized glands, located on their chest and belly, which produce the chemical scent. Many of the scents are distinct to a particular animal. They deposit their scent in areas where other animals may smell it to let them know that the area is occupied.

Tree shrews live in monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus) pairs, meaning they have one mate. Gestation, or pregnancy, lasts between forty-three and fifty-six days. Females give birth to small litters (young born at the same time) of poorly developed, hairless offspring. The typical litter size ranges from one to three offspring. Baby tree shrews are often born in pairs.

In many of the species studied, researchers found an unusual mothering strategy unlike other mammals. Mother tree shrews visit their babies only once every two days for about two minutes each visit. When the mother visits her young in the nest, she immediately allows the babies to nurse, which they do quickly. Babies take in large amounts of milk and lie back with a bloated stomach. With no mother in the nest, the babies snuggle with each other to keep warm. The babies also groom each other, a task traditionally done by the mother.

Field studies have found that tree shrews breed when fruiting peaks occur in the forest.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsTree Shrews: Scandentia - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Tree Shrews And People, Conservation Status, Common Tree Shrew (tupaia Glis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET