Overview

Distribution

Pygmy tree shrews (Tupaia minor) are distributed on the Malay Peninsula, India, Sumatra, Borneo, and many of the surrounding islands.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol 1, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Range Description

This species is found in southern peninsular Thailand, Malaysia (Malay Peninsula, Sabah, Sarawak, and Laut), and Indonesia (Kalimantan, Sumatra, the Lingga Islands, Banggi, and Balambangan) (Helgen 2005). It is sympatric in parts of its range with T. glis, T. longipes and T. gracilis. It is a lowland species, most commonly found up to about 1,000 m (K. H. Han pers. comm.), though recorded to 1,700 m by Corbet and Hill (1992).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Pygmy tree shrews are superficially squirrel-like in appearance, but they can be distinguished from squirrels by their long, pointed snouts and lack of long, black vibrissae. The genus Tupaia can be distinguished from other genera of tree shrews by several external characters. The tail is evenly covered by long hair, the upper section of the ear is larger than the lower lobe, and the hairless section on top of the nose is cut squarely across.

Tupaia minor is characterized by golden brown pelage on the back and limbs, and the underparts vary in color from white to a light cream color. Claws on hands and feet are sharp and moderately curved, allowing for climbing. Pygmy tree shrews move in a semiplantigrade posture. This posture allows a tree shrew to keep its center of gravity close to the tree upon which it is climbing. While grasping on to branches, the pollex and hallux of T. minor become divergent from the other digits. This is an adaptation to arboreal life.

Tupaia minor has an average mass of 60 g and an average head and body length of 124 mm.

Range mass: 50 to 70 g.

Average length: 124 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

  • Sargis, E. 2001. The grasping behaviour, locomotion and substrate use of the tree shrews Tupaia minor and T. tana (Mammalia, Scandentia). Journal of Zoology, 253: 485-490.
  • Emmons, L. 1991. Frugivory in Treeshrews (Tupaia). The American Naturalist, 138/3: 642-649.
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Ecology

Habitat

Tupaia minor is found in tropical forests below elevations of 1,000 m. Although it is primarily an arboreal species¸ it has been observed and trapped in both canopy and terrestrial habitats.

Range elevation: 1,000 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

  • Holst, D. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia Of Mammals Volume 2. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.
  • Wells, K., M. Pfeiffer, M. Lakim, K. Linsenmair. 2004. Use of arboreal and terrestrial space by a small mammal community in a tropical rain forest in Borneo, Malaysia. Journal of Biogeography, 31/4: 641-652.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in both primary and secondary forest (K. H. Han pers. comm.). In Thailand, Parr (2003) recorded it to occur in monsoonal evergreen forest, and Malayan mixed dipterocarp forest, and from plantations in the southern parts of Thailand. It has been recorded from older tree plantations on Borneo (R. Stuebing pers. comm.), and Wells
(2005) recorded this to be a common species in a logged site in Sabah (44 out of 320 captures).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Trophic Strategy

The digestive tract of T. minor is comprised of a small, simplified stomach, a long, narrow small intestine, a narrow pouch-like cecum, and a smooth large intestine. The gut of T. minor lacks the plant fermentation microorganisms needed to digest plant cell walls. The through time for digested materials ranges from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.

Tupaia minor is omnivorous. Its diet is comprised of a wide variety of invertebrates (including insects and worms) and fruit.

The method of processing fruit for ingestion is dependent on the size and rigidity of the item. Captive observations showed that small fruit is placed into the mouth and chewed. The skin and seeds are ejected from the mouth, and juice and soft pulp are ingested. Ejection of inedible items is accomplished with the help of a forepaw or the tongue. Observations of T. minor in the wild differ slightly. Wild individuals very rarely eject seeds. Fruit that is firm and larger than the gape is often problematic. The weak jaw and procumbent incisors of these animals inhibit their ability to bite off whole chunks from tough fruits. Thus, large or tough fruit is either chewed in the side of the mouth, or licked vigorously. Wild tupaiids tend to concentrate their frugivory on soft fruits that they can handle efficiently.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

  • Shanahan, M., S. Compton. 2000. Fig-Eating by Bornean Tree Shrews (Tupaia spp.): Evidence for a Role as Seed Dispersers. Biotropica, 32/4a: 759-764.
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Associations

It has been suggested that T. minor may play a role as a seed disperser for several Ficus fig species.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Predation on members of the genus Tupaia undoubtedly occurs, although details on predatory interactions are lacking in the literature. These smallish mammals are likely prey for snakes, larger mammals, and raptors.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication in these mammals has not been extensively documented. Members of the genus Tupaia are known to scent mark their territories with secretions from glands as well as with urine. Because they are diurnal, visual cues are likely to be important in communication. Most mammals also use vocal and tactile communication, especially when mating.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

To date, all life span knowledge for T. minor is limited to data from captive subjects. In captivity they tend to live a maximum of 9 to 10 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: captivity:
9 to 10 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 12.2 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Information on the mating system of this species is not available. However, other species in the genus show either polygyny or polygynandry. In Tupaia glis, a single male rules over a group containing both males and females, although only the dominant male mates with females. Tupaia montana is reported to be slightly more social, with two mutually tolerant males in a group mating with the females. It is not known where in the spectrum of variation T. minor falls, but males of most species in the genus Tupaia form linear dominance heirarchies, which suggests that polygyny of some form may be the rule.

Tupaia minor has a litter size that ranges from 1 to 3 young. Females reach sexual maturity at approximately 46 g, and males reach sexual maturity at approximately 16.3 g. Very little else is known about the reproductive behavior of T. minor. Tupaiids, in general, have a gestation period of 45 to 55 days, and give birth to young weighing from 6 to 10 g. Weaning occurs at approximately 30 days, and sexual maturity is reached at approximately 2 months. After reaching sexual maturity young are forced out of the parental territory.

After giving birth, females become receptive to copulation at once. Breeding in captivity and in the wild can occur year round.

Breeding interval: Breeding can occur every 45 to 55 days.

Breeding season: Breeding may occur year around.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 3.

Range gestation period: 45 to 55 days.

Average weaning age: 30 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 2 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous ; post-partum estrous

Average number of offspring: 2.

The rearing strategies of Tupaidea, including T. minor, are somewhat peculiar. Prior to giving birth, a female makes a large nest, consisting of leaves, wood chips, and other assorted building materials, within a fallen tree. This nest provides the young with protection from the elements and predators. The female then gives birth to her young within the nest. The young are born naked with their ears and eyes closed. Within a few minutes of birth, the young take on approximately half their initial body weight in milk. After feeding, the bellies of the young become distended from the body. The mother then leaves the nest and only returns every 48 hours to feed the young. Each visit lasts only 5 to 10 minutes. The high fat content of Tupaiid milk (~26%) enables the young to maintain a relatively high body temperature (~37 C). The high protein content of the milk (~10%) also helps the young to maintain a rapid growth rate. After approximately 4 weeks the young are able to leave the nest. This occurs with only approximately 90 minutes of parental care from the female. Males are not known to participate in care of the young.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female)

  • Holst, D. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia Of Mammals Volume 2. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.
  • Hayssen, V., A. Tienhoven, A. TienHoven. 1993. Asdell's Patterns of Mammalian Reproduction. Ithaca and London: Comstock Publishing Associates.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol 1, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tupaia minor

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

All species of Tupaiidae, including T. minor, are listed on Appendix II of CITES. It is thought that this designation was a result of the entire order Primates being added to the appendix in 1975. At that time the order still included Tupaiidae.

The largest problem facing these animals is human encroachment into tropical forests. This encroachment may take many forms, including logging, cultivation, and human habitation. In each case, the result is ultimately the same: habitat destruction and fragmentation.

In 1995, the IUCN published the Eurasian Insectivores and Tree Shrews: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. This plan outlines the status and conservation needs of tree shrews in Southeast Asia. A digital version of this plan can be obtained at:   http://members.vienna.at/shrew/itsesAP95-cover.html.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Han, K.H. & Stuebing, R.

Reviewer/s
Hoffmann, M. & Chanson, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern as the species has a wide distribution range, and although presumably declining due to ongoing forest loss in parts of its range, there is no evidence that these declines approach a rate that would warrant listing in a threatened category.
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Population

Population
This species is relatively common on Borneo, but not abundant (Han et al. 2000); it is widespread in Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo), but relatively rare on the Malay Peninsula and on Sumatra.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The major threat to this species is deforestation and habitat loss due to agriculture and conversion to plantations, particularly on Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is found in many protected areas, including Krau Wildlife Reserve (Malaysia). It is listed on CITES Appendix II.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

These tree shrews are not known to have a negative effect on human economies.

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These forest animals are not known to have any positive economic importance on humans.

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Wikipedia

Pygmy treeshrew

The pygmy treeshrew (Tupaia minor) is a species of treeshrew in the family Tupaiidae.[1] It is found in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.[2]

The generic name is derived from the Malay word tupai meaning squirrel or small animals that resemble squirrels.[3]

Distribution[edit]

T.minor is distributed in peninsular Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, the Lingga Archipelago (Indonesia), Borneo, offshore islands of Laut (Indonesia), and Banggi and Balambangan (Malaysia). From the Catalogue of Mammal Skins in Sarawak Museum, Kuching, Sarawak, more than 30 individuals of T. minor have been collected from 1891 to 1991. The specimens were mostly caught in Mt Penrisen, Mt Dulit, Mt Poi, Gunung Gading, Bau, Ulu Baram, Saribas, Kuching, and Forest Research.

The species has no fossil record.[4]

Morphology and appearance[edit]

T. minor can be distinguished from other treeshrews by its appearance. It has upper body hair banded light and dark, giving a speckled olive-brown appearance. The upper parts are buffy and often have a reddish tinge towards the rear.[5] The limbs are equal in length and have long claws. The maximum total length is about 450 mm, half of which is the tail.[6] The tail is long and thin, and its upper side is darker than the body.[5]

Behavior, diet and reproduction[edit]

T. minor is diurnal (active in the daytime). It is often seen 3 to 8 m above the ground, sometimes up to 20 m, travelling along lianas or branches of small trees.[5] They spend most of their time on the ground and in low bushes, nesting in tree roots and fallen timber. T. minor moves in a semiplantigrade posture which allows it to keep its centre of gravity close to the tree.[7] The claws on its hands and feet are quite sharp and moderately curved, which is useful for climbing.

Tupaia minor is omnivorous; its diet includes insects and fruit. Scandentia has little economic significance because they do little damage to crops or plantations. However, T. minor may be a seed disperser for several Ficus species.[8]

Litters of one to three young are born after a gestation period of 45 to 55 days. Their maximum lifespan is around 9 to 10 years.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Helgen, K. M. (2005). "Tupaia minor". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b Han, K. H. & Stuebing, R. (2008). Tupaia minor. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
  3. ^ Wilkinson, R. J. (1901). A Malay-English dictionary Kelly & Walsh Limited, Hongkong, Shanghai and Yokohama.
  4. ^ Jacobs, L.L. 1980. Siwalik fossil tree shrews. Comparative biology and evolutionary relationships of tree shrews. New York. Plenum Press. Pg. 202-203
  5. ^ a b c Payne, J., Francis, C. M. and Phillipps, K., 1985. Mammals of Borneo. The Sabah Society with World Wildlife Fund Malaysia. Pg. 163.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Feldhamer, G.A., Drickamer, L.C., Vessey, S.H., and Merritt, J.F., 1999. Mammalogy : Adaptation, Diversity and Ecology. United States: McGraw-Hill. Pg. 202-203
  7. ^ Lelevier, M. and L. Olson. 2005. "Tupaia minor" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 7, 2009 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tupaia_minor.html.
  8. ^ Shanahan, M., S. Compton. 2000. Fig-Eating by Bornean Tree Shrews (Tupaia spp.): Evidence for a Role as Seed Dispersers. Wilson, D.E., and Reeder D.M., 1993. Mammal species of the world, second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press. Pg. 132
  9. ^ Lelevier, M. and L. Olson (2005). "Tupaia minor" (On-line). Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved January 7, 2009. 
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