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LANSING, Mich. – Three Northern Tree Shrews, born at the Potter Park Zoo last month to parents Oliver and Rose, successfully emerged from their nest box this weekend and are doing well, according to zoo representatives.
“We are excited to welcome these youngsters to Potter Park Zoo,” said Dr. Tara Harrison, Potter Park Zoo’s Director of Animal Health. “This is a rare opportunity for the community to learn more about the Northern Tree Shrew.”
The Northern Tree Shrew (Tupaia belangeri) is native to Southeast Asia, generally inhabiting tropical rainforests. After giving birth, females only nurse their young every two days. This parenting strategy may seem strange, 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.
"These are the first Northern Tree Shrews to be born at Potter Park Zoo,” said Keeper Carolyn Schulte. “It's been a great opportunity to witness some of the less commonly seen behaviors associated with reproduction and parenting exhibited by these extremely intelligent mammals."
The Potter Park Zoo Northern Tree Shrews are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which includes only 47 of these animals held in AZA institutions.