Habitat and Ecology
Evolution and Systematics
The large pitcher of Nepenthes pitcher plants gathers nitrogen from tree shrews through a mutualistic relationship.
"Botanists have discovered that the giant montane pitcher plant of Borneo has a pitcher the exact same size as a tree shrew's body.
"But it is not this big to swallow up mammals such as tree shrews or rats.
"Instead, the pitcher uses tasty nectar to attract tree shrews, then ensures its pitcher is big enough to collect the feeding mammal's droppings…
"That suggests these supposedly 'meat-eating' plants have evolved a mutualistic relationship with tree shrews.
"The tree shrews get nectar, a valuable food source, and in return, the plants get to catch and absorb the tree shrew's faeces which likely supplies the majority of nitrogen required by the plant." (Walker 2010)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Chin L; Moran JA; Clarke C. 2010. Trap geometry in three giant montane pitcher plant species from Borneo is a function of tree shrew body size. New Phytologist. 186(2): 461-470.
- Walker M. 2010. Giant meat-eating plants prefer to eat tree shrew poo. BBC Earth News [Internet],
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
The mountain treeshrew is dark grizzled rufous above with an indistinct black line along the back. Its tail is rather short and grizzled rufous above, but below more olivaceous yellow with a black tip. The lateral tail hairs are ringed. A male specimen described by Thomas measured 20 cm (7.9 in) in head to body with a 14 cm (5.5 in) long tail.
Distribution and habitat
Ecology and behaviour
In their natural habitat, mountain treeshrews were observed being active during the day. They forage on the ground among fallen logs and branches where they feed mostly on arthropods. They also consume large quantities of wild fruits and berries, eating them in short bursts. It is assumed that they extract sugar laden juices and this way supplement dietary deficiencies of an arthropod diet.
Results of a behavioral study of a group of 12 wild-caught captive mountain treeshrews indicate that they are more social than groups of other treeshrew species. Two males tended to dominate the group. Females had an estrous cycle lasting nine to 12 days. Gestation lasted 49 to 51 days. They did not display a distinct reproductive season. Litters comprised one to two young.
Mountain treeshrews have a mutualistic relationship with giant pitcher plants such as Nepenthes lowii, Nepenthes macrophylla, and Nepenthes rajah. They defecate into the plants' traps while visiting them to feed on sweet, fruity secretions from glands on the pitcher lids.
- Helgen, K. M. (2005). "Tupaia montana". 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.
- Han, K. H., Stuebing, R., Maryanto, I. (2008). "Tupaia montana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
- Thomas, O. (1892). On some new Mammalia from the East-Indian Archipelago. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History 6 (9): 250–254.
- Emmons, L. (2000). Tupai: A field study of Bornean treeshrews. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
- Sorenson, M. W., Conaway, C. H. (1968). The social and reproductive behavior of Tupaia montana in captivity. Journal of Mammalogy: 502–512.
- Greenwood, M., Clarke, C., Lee, C.C., Gunsalam, A., Clarke, R. H. (2011). A unique resource mutualism between the giant Bornean pitcher plant, Nepenthes rajah, and members of a small mammal community. PLoS ONE 6(6): e21114. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021114
- Chin, L., Moran, J. A., Clarke, C. (2010). Trap geometry in three giant montane pitcher plant species from Borneo is a function of tree shrew body size. New Phytologist 186 (2): 461–470. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.03166.x