Two northern tree shrews, members of an endangered species native to southeast Asia, were recently born at the Potter Park Zoo to parents Rose and Oliver. They are expected to emerge from their nest box this weekend and are doing well, according to zoo representatives.
“We are thrilled to successfully breed this unique and endangered species,” said Zoo General Curator Sarah Pechtel. “We hope the community will take advantage of this rare opportunity and come to see these young animals.”
The northern tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) generally inhabits tropical rainforests. After giving birth, females only nurse their young every two days. This parenting strategy may seem unusual, but is possible because of the mother’s extremely nutrient rich milk. The young come out of the nest at around 30 days old, when they are about half of their adult weight.
Resembling a long-nosed mouse, northern tree shrews have small sharp claws on their front and rear feet for grasping branches. They are primarily tree-dwelling animals and usually live in monogamous pairs on a diet consisting mostly of insects and fruit.
The Potter Park Zoo northern tree shrews are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which includes only 28 of these animals held in AZA institutions.