Archive for the 'Small mammals' Category

Sunday Article: Vanishing species- Pygmy Hog

Sunday Article by Mohan Pai
Hello friends,

Good morning. A number of my readers wrote asking why the Sunday Articles had stopped.

Unfortunately, I had to undergo an emergency cardiac surgery and hence this long intervening gap.

This Sunday, it’s about the Pygmy Hog, a highly endangered species. In fact it is more endangered than the tiger ! Only about 150 animals survive in the wild only in Assam (Manas National Park).

When it comes to conservation, the flagship species like the tiger, rhino, etc. hog the limelight. The plight of the lesser vulnerable, critically endangered animals gets hardly any attention.

Very best wishes,

Mohan Pai

Pygmy Hog
Sus salvanius

The smallest pig in the world is also more endangered than the tiger !
Only 150 animals survive in Assam.

The Pygmy Hog is critically endangered with less than hundred and fifty thought to be left in the wild. Once native to India, Bhutan and Nepal, these little guys were thought extinct from the 1950s-60s, until a small population was discovered. They can now be found only in the northwest Assam region in India. The pygmy hog is notable as it is the only surviving member of the genus Porcula.

The pygmy hog is a small wild pig weighing about 8.5 kg (10 lb). It lives in dense, tall grassland, where it feeds on roots, tubers and other vegetable matter, as well as insects and other invertebrates. Nests are built and used by both sexes at all times of the year. The pygmy hog is apparently non-territorial. It lives in small family groups of about 4 – 5 individuals, comprised of one or more adult females and accompanying juveniles, and occasionally an adult male.

The pygmy hog formerly occurred throughout the Terai region of India, Bhutan and Nepal. It is now found only in northwest Assam, India. By 1993 it was reduced to only two known, isolated populations in northwest Assam – the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and the Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary.

The continuing decline of the pygmy hog is due to the modification and elimination of its limited habitat by human settlement, agricultural encroachment, overgrazing by domestic livestock, commercial forestry, flood control projects, and civil unrest among Assamese ethnic groups.
Pygmy Hogs are about 55 to 71 cm long and stand at 20-30 cm with a tail of 2.5 cm. They weigh 6.6 to 11.8 kilograms. Their skin is dark brownish black and the fur is dark. Piglets are born grayish-pink becoming brown with yellow stripes along the body length. The head is sharply tapered and they have a slight crest of hair on the forehead and on the back of the neck. Adult males have the upper canines visible on the sides of the mouth. They live for about 8 years, becoming sexually mature at 1-2 years. They breed seasonally before the monsoons giving birth to a litter of 3-6 after a gestation of 100 days. In the wild they make small nests by digging a small trench and lining it with vegetation. During the heat of the day they stay within these nests. They feed on roots, tubers, insects, rodents, and small reptiles.

The species was first described as the only member of the genus Porcula (Hodgson, 1847), but was then regarded as the closest relative of the Eurasian pig Sus scrofa and named Sus salvanius The resurrection of the original genus status and the species name Porcula salvania has been adopted by GenBank. The species name salvania is after the Sal forests where it was found.


The pygmy hog is the sole representative of Porcula, making the conservation of this critically endangered species even more important as its extinction would result in the loss of a unique evolutionary branch of pigs. They used to be widespread in the tall, wet grasslands in the southern Himalayan foothills from Uttar Pradesh to Assam, through Nepal and north Bengal. However, human encroachment has largely destroyed the natural habitat of the pygmy hog by development, agriculture, domestic grazing and deliberate fires. Only one viable population remains in the Manas Tiger Reserve, but even there threats due to livestock grazing, poaching and fire persist. The total wild population has been estimated as less than 150 animals and the species is listed as “critically endangered” Their rarity contrasts greatly with the massive population of wild boars (Sus scrofa) in India.


Conservation of the species has been hampered due to the lack of public support, unlike that for charismatic South Asian mammals like the Bengal Tiger or Indian Rhino. Local political unrest in the area has also severely hampered effective conservation efforts, but these conflicts have now ceased.

References: Wikipedia, Animal Kingdom, Zooillogix.

Vanishing Species: Indian Otters

Sunday article by Mohan Pai

Indian Otters
Photo: courtesy: K. Pichumani
Playful creatures, a group of Otters is called ‘romp’, being descriptive of their playful nature.
Otters are semi-aquatic, fish-eating mammals. The otter subfamily Lutrinae forms part of the family Mustelidae, which also includes weasels, polecats, badgers, as well as others. With thirteen species in seven genera, otters have an almost worldwide distribution. They mainly eat aquatic animals, predominantly fish and shellfish, but also other invertebrates, amphibians, birds and small mammals.An otter’s den is called a holt or couch. A male otter is a dog (otter), a female a bitch (otter), and a baby a whelp or pup. The collective nouns for otters are bevy, family, lodge or romp, being descriptive of their often playful nature, or when in water raft.
India is home to three species of otters: the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra), the smooth-coated otter (Lutra perspicillata) and the small-clawed otter (Amblonyx cinerous). Just 50 years ago, the smooth coated otter, also referred to as the smooth Indian otter, was widespread in the country while both Eurasian and the small clawed otter (earlier called the clawless otter) were absent from central India, but found in broad bands in the Himalayas and the ghats in the south. It is essentially an otter of cold hill and moutain streams and lakes. Today, these elegant creatures are confined only to protected areas and zoos. If there are any unknown pockets outside, they are unlikely to survive.What happened to otters was quite simple. Found in rivers, lakes and other wetlands, they competed with human beings for fish, their main diet, and lost. Pollution poisoned their food and habitat. Lakes and wetlands were drained for agriculture. In fact the trade of otter skins has been going on for hundreds of years in South East Asia. According to a wildlife trade survey done in Thailand, an otter skin can be sold for $90-$100 to leather factories and considered the best leather to make jackets. It is also believed that otter fat was good for rheumatism, and dried otter penis can fetch up to $50 per inch in Mandalay, and in Myitkyina in the Kachin state. A researcher from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Bangalore, V. Meena, found nomadic tribal herb collectors from Haryana trapping otters in the Palani hills of Tamil Nadu to sell the oil and skin and of course, eat the flesh, while they were at it.
Otters have long, slim bodies and relatively short limbs, with webbed paws. Most have sharp claws on their feet, and all except the sea otter have long muscular tails.They have a very soft, insulated underfur which is protected by their outer layer of long guard hair. This traps a layer of air, and keeps them dry and warm under water.Many otters live in cold waters and have very high metabolic rates to help keep them warm. In summer, in the Himalayas many otters go up the streams and torrents ascending to altitudes of 12,000 ft or more. Their upward movement probably coincides with the upward migration of carp and other fish for purposes of spawning. With the advent of winter they come down to the lower streams.For most otters, fish is the primary staple of their diet. This is often supplemented by frogs, crayfish and crabs. Some otters are expert at opening shellfish, and others will feed on available small mammals or birds. Prey-dependence leaves otters very vulnerable to prey depletion.Otters are very active, chasing prey in the water or searching the beds of rivers, lakes or the seas. Most species live beside water, entering it mainly to hunt or travel, otherwise spending much of their time on land to avoid their fur becoming waterlogged. The sea otter does live in the sea for most of its life.Otters are playful animals and appear to engage in various behaviors for sheer enjoyment. Different species vary in their social structure, with some being largely solitary, while others live in groups – in a few species these groups may be fairly large.

Range map of Otters (IUCN)

Major Threat(s): The aquatic habitats of otters are extremely vulnerable to man-made changes. Canalisation of rivers, removal of bank side vegetation, dam construction, draining of wetlands, aquaculture activities and associated man-made impacts on aquatic systems are all unfavourable to otter populations (Reuther and Hilton-Taylor 2004). In South and South East Asia, the decrease in prey species from wetlands and water ways had reduced the population to an unsustainable threshold leading to local extinctions. The poaching is one of the main cause of its decline from South and South East Asia, and possibly also from the North Asia. (IUCN Red List)
References: Wikipedia, IUCN Red List, S. H. Prater (the book of Indian Animals), Aniruddha Mookerjee in the Hindu.


For some of my articles visit:
For some key chapters from my book “The Western Ghats”, please log on to:
For detailed blog (6 Chapters from my book) on Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, please log on to:
For the book ‘The Elderly’ please log on to:
You can also access my blogs on Sulekha and WordPress:
For my book “The Flight of Gods – Hindu Temples & Shrines of Goa” please log on to:

Vanishing Species: Chinkara – Indian gazelle

Sunday article by Mohan Pai

Hello friends,
Good morning. I am writing about the vanishing species after a gap of a month. Last three articles were on biodiversity (You may please read my blogs, in case you have missed them).This week’s species is the Chinkara gazelle, a slender and graceful deer. Their population is mostly confined to north western and central parts of India. The threats for its existence are the common threats: indiscriminate hunting and habitat loss. They could be spotted in Bandhavgarh and Ranthambore National Parks.
I am grateful to Mr. Vinay Somani of Karmayog who has just sent the link to “State of Environment: India 2009” recently released by MOeF. It is important for every one of us to look at the report, especially Chapter 3 on Climate Change. The picture for India, I am afraid, is very, very grim! The Ministry of Environment and Forests recently released thecomprehensive report on the state of India’s environment, 2009.
This is the online report
Cross-posted: karmayog
Very best wishes,
Mohan Pai
Indian gazelle
(Gazella bennettii)

A small gazelle of slender, graceful build.
The Chinkara (Gazella bennettii) or Indian Gazelle is a species of gazelle found in south Asia. It lives in grasslands and desert areas in India, Bangladesh and parts of Iran and Pakistan. It is also known as the Indian Gazelle (Gazella gazella bennetti). A small, gazelle of slender graceful build it stands at 65 centimetres and weighs about 23 kilograms. There is the usual white streak down each side of the face, so chararacteristic of all gazelles and a dusky patch above the nose. Its summer coat is a reddish-buff colour, with smooth, glossy fur. In winter the white belly and throat fur is in greater contrast. The sides of the face have dark chestnut stripes from the corner of the eye to the muzzle, bordered by white stripes. The horns of the male appear almost straight when seen from the front; in profile they take lightly S-shaped curve with 15 to 25 rings and average 25-30 centimetres. Hornless females are not uncommon.It is a shy animal and avoids human habitation. It can go without water for long periods and can get sufficient fluids from plants and dew. Although most individuals are seen alone, they can sometimes be spotted in groups of up to four animals.Certain researchers consider the decline in the Chinkara population as the reason behind the extinction of the Asiatic Cheetah in India. Its population is on the decline due to it being hunted for game.
Distribution :
Chinkar are less gregarious than Blackbuck and live in smaller herds. The average size of group is 3 but occasionally herds of up to 25 animals are seen. .Chinkara is widely distributed in India. It is mostly found in Rajasthan, north western and central parts of India. They could also be spotted in the Bandhavgarh and Ranthambore National Park.
Weaning: At about two months. Sexual Maturity: At two years of age. Life span: Unknown. Gestation Period: About five to five and a half months. Young per Birth: Generally 1, but twins have been reported quite frequently. The rut appears to occur in two seasons, one lasting from the end of monsoon up to early October and again in the late Spring from March to the end of April. The births occur mainly in April.Social Behavior: In its wide roaming habits, tendency to keep to small groups of two to three individuals and its general alertness, the Chinkara is very similar to the Goitered Gazelle. The Chinkara is almost wholly nocturnal in foraging activity, though they will emerge to start feeding before sunset.Diet: The food consists of grass, of various leaves, crops, and fruits such as pumpkins and melons and can go without water for days.
Range covers much of western and central India, extending through Pakistan, south-western Afghanistan into north-central Iran. The Thar Desert of western India remains a stronghold. Distribution in Pakistan has been greatly reduced by overhunting and although still widespread, populations are scattered (Habibi 2001b). In Iran, distribution is also scattered extending to Kavir NP in Tehran Province (Hemami and Groves 2001)
Range map of Indian gazelle (IUCN)
Numbers in India have been estimated at more than 100,000 with 80,000 in the Tahr Desert (Rahmani 2001). Numbers in Pakistan have declined due to overhunting, but no current estimate is available (Habibi 2001b). Current status in Afghanistan is unknown but they are also believed to be very rare (Habibi 2001a). Around 1300 were estimated for Iran (Hemami and Groves 2001). Population Trend: Stable
Habitat and Ecology:
Inhabits arid areas, including sand deserts, flat plains and hills, dry scrub and light forest. Ranges to 1,500 m in Pakistan (Habibi 2001b). They are facultative drinkers, and so can live in very arid areas. They sometimes raid fields cultivated with rape seed and sorghum in desert regions (Habibi 2001b). Systems: Terrestrial
Major Threat(s):
Indiscriminate hunting has adversely affected gazelles in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan (hunted for meat and to a lesser degree for trophies). Habitat loss through overgrazing, conversion to agriculture and industrial development is also a factor.
Trouble for film stars
Aamir was accused of filming a Chinkara deer, a Schedule I animal under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, for commercial purposes without taking due permission, during the shooting of the movie Laagan, for which most of the shooting was held in Kutch in 2000.
The Bollywood actor Salman Khan was also accused of the alleged killing of chinkara gazelles in Kutch in 1998.
References: S. H. Prater “ The Book of Indian Animals, Wikipedia, IUCN Red List
For some of my articles visit:
For some key chapters from my book “The Western Ghats”, please log on to:
For detailed blog (6 Chapters from my book) on Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, please log on to:
For the book ‘The Elderly’ please log on to:
You can also access my blogs on Sulekha and WordPress:
For my book “The Flight of Gods – Hindu Temples & Shrines of Goa” please log on to:

Vanishing Species – The Lynx

An article by Mohan Pai
The Eurasian Lynx
Lynx lynx isabellina

This cat appears in India only in the far north, bordering Tibet. Its recent records are only from Ladakh, where the species may not survive for long.
The Lynx, which occurs within our limits in the upper Indus valley, in Gilgit, Ladakh, and Tibet, is a race of the Lynx of northern Europe and Asia. It is distinctive in its pale sandy-grey or isabelline colouring, hence the racial name Isabellina.
The long erect tufts of hair on the tips of its ears distinguish the Lynx from other cats; From the carcal the Lynx is distinguished by its short tail reaching only half way to the hocks, and by distinct ruff or fringe of pendant hairs framing its face. In summer its coat shows a sprinkling of spots which may persist, but which usually disappear in the heavier winter coat.

Postage Stamp from the Soviet Union 1988

The Lynx shelters in the dense cover provided by willow scrub patches of reeds, and tall grass. It hunts such animals and birds as it can overcome, hares, marmots, partridges, pheasants, and takes its toll from flocks of sheep and goats. In summer it covers a wide range of altitude having been seen at levels between 9,000 (2,745 m) and 11,000 feet (3,355 m).
Its keen eyesight and hearing is proverbial. It is said to have 2-3 young, the mother usually hiding her litter in a cave or a hole among rocks. Half grown cubs have been seen in August.

Range map of the Lynx (IUCN)

It is a medium-sized cat. The Eurasian lynx is the biggest of the lynxes, ranging in length from 80 to 130 cm (32 to 51 in) and standing about 70 cm (28 in) at the shoulder. Males usually weigh from 18 to 30 kg (40 to 66 lb) and females weigh 18.1 kg (40 lb) on average. The Eurasian lynx is mainly nocturnal and lives solitarily as an adult. Moreover, the sounds this lynx makes are very quiet and seldom heard, so the presence of the species in an area may go unnoticed for years. Remnants of prey or tracks on snow are usually observed long before the animal is seen.


While China and Russia had annual commercial exports of thousands of skins in the 1970s and 1980s, this trade has ended in recent years. However, illegal skin trade remains the leading threat to the species, together with habitat loss and prey base depletion.

References: S. H. Prater (The Book of Indian Mammals), Wikipedia, IUCN.


For some of my articles visit:
For some key chapters from my book “The Western Ghats”, please log on to:

For detailed blog (6 Chapters from my book) on Mahadayi/Mandovi River Valley, please log on to:

For the book ‘The Elderly’ please log on to:
You can also access my blogs on Sulekha and WordPress:

For my book “The Flight of Gods – Hindu Temples & Shrines of Goa” please log on to:

Vanishing Species – Himalayan Musk Deer

An Article by Mohan Pai

The Himalayan Musk Deer
(Kasturi Mrigha)
Moschus leucogaster
Gram for gram, musk is one of the most valuable products in the natural kingdom and can be worth three times more than its weight in gold.
Besides hunting for meat, which is considered a delicacy locally, hunting of the musk deer is primarily for trade of musk glands. The musk produced by this genus of primitive deer is highly valued for its cosmetic and alleged pharmaceutical properties, and can fetch U.S.$ 45,000 per kilogram on the international market. Although this musk, produced in a gland of the males, can be extracted from live animals, most “musk-gatherers” kill the animals to remove the entire sac, which yields only about 25 grams (1/40 of a kilogram) of the brown waxy substance. Such poaching is relatively easy to accomplish and difficult to stop.There is also some forest loss within its range for agriculture, timber and human settlement.
This species occurs in the Himalayas of Bhutan, northern India (including Sikkim), Nepal, and China (southwest Xizang). Its occurrence in China is almost marginal.
Ecology and Behavior
Himalayan musk deer are most active between dusk and dawn, alternately resting and feeding throughout this period. At night, musk deer can be seen in the open areas of their habitat as they graze, while during the day, they remain in dense cover. Neighbouring individuals may utilize common latrines, an activity with becomes more frequent during the mating season. Himalayan musk deer are sedentary, remaining within a defined home range throughout the year. In females these are about 125 acres in size, while male musk deer will control a territory which encompasses the ranges of several females, defending it against intrusion by rival males. The Himalayan musk deer does not undertake any seasonal migrations, remaining in the same area year-round despite harsh weather conditions. A shy animal, the musk deer depends on its sense of hearing to locate sources of danger. When frightened, they make broad leaps, each measuring up to 6 meters / 19 feet in length. Drastic changes in direction are made during flight, and every few jumps the animal will stop and listen. Communication between individuals is thought to be based primarily on their sense of smell, due to the high development of the glands of musk deer. Primarily silent, musk deer will emit a loud double hiss if alarmed, and may scream plaintively if wounded.
Population densities are about 3-4 animals per square kilometer.
Family group: Solitary.
Diet: Leaves, grasses, moss, lichens, shoots, twigs.
Main Predators: Yellow-throated marten, fox, wolf, lynx.
Distribution: Alpine forest and scrub at elevations of 2,200-4,300 meters / 7250-14,200 feet on the eastern and southern edge of Tibet and the southern slopes of the Himalayas.

Range Map

Listed as Endangered because of a probable serious population decline, estimated to be more than 50% over the last three generations (approximately 21 years), inferred from over-exploitation, which is characteristic of this genus. Although there is no direct data available regarding recent declining population rates, the above-mentioned rate of decline seems reasonable based on the high levels of harvesting. It should also be noted that the species has a relatively restricted range, and so its population is unlikely to be large.
References:, National Geographic, IUCN Red List.

Vanishing Species – Hispid Hare

An Article by Mohan Pai
The Hispid Hare or Assam Rabbit

(Caprolagus hispidius)

Hispid hare is a rare and endangered species
almost on the verge of extinction.

During the mid-1960s there was speculation that the Hispid Hare had gone extinct, however, the capture of a live specimen in 1971 in the Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary, northwest Assam, confirmed that the species was persisting. Though there is no information available on exact number of individuals in any areas of the range of the Hispid Hare, little doubt exists that the species has experienced a dramatic decline due to habitat loss in recent years.

What we call in Hindi as Khargosh and Khargorkata in Assamese is not a rabbit but a hare. True rabbits (Oryctolagus) do not occur in the Indian subcontinent. Hispid Hare, also called Assam Rabbit distributed along the foothills of the Himalayas from Uttar Pradesh to Assam and is a is a rare and critically endangered species.
A large grassland logomorph it has black hair predominantly brown dorsal coat and white belly. It has shorter or more rounded ears, and smaller hind legs and a much shorter tail than the Indian Hare.

Very little is known of the habits of this species though it has been reported sporadically from the grass jungles of Terai and Duars in Assam..The Hispid Hare was formerly widely distributed but its habitat is much reduced and degraded by deforestation, cultivation, and human settlement, and now it is confined to isolated regions in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam.

The hispid hare is also called the “bristly rabbit” because it has coarse, dark brown hair. It’s ears are short, and its back legs are not much larger than the front legs. It weighs about 2.5 kg (5.5 lb). It prefers tall grass-scrub savanna, in flat, well-drained and thinly forested country. It is not gregarious, but sometimes lives in pairs. Its diet consists mainly of bark, shoots and roots of grasses, including thatch species, and occasionally crops.
The hispid hare was formerly found from Uttar Pradesh to Assam (India) along the Himalayan foothills, and south to Dacca in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). In 1964, it was feared by some to be extinct, or nearly so, but by 1966 it was thought still to exist in a few isolated parts of its range along the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. In 1990 the areas from which it had been recently recorded included Assam, northwest Bengal, northwest Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and the Terai area of southern and southwest Nepal.
The main reasons for its decline include habitat (elephant grass land) loss, mainly for cultivation, forestry, grazing and the burning of thatch; human settlement; hunting for food and to protect crops; and predation by dogs. In addition, human-induced changes in seasonal flooding have favored the later stages of vegetation succession which the hispid hare does not prefer.
About Rabbits

0 The Hispid hare is one of the world’s rarest mammals.

0 The Hispid hare is actually a rabbit (see next item).

0 Rabbits (belonging to many different genera) vs. Hares (all in the genus Lepus):

The major differences between rabbits and hares include: 1.) their methods in avoiding predators (rabbits hide in dense vegetation or burrows; hares have longer legs and try to outrun predators), and 2.) the characteristics of their young at birth (newborn rabbits (“kittens”) are born naked and with their eyes closed; newborn hares (“leverets”) are better developed – their eyes are open and they can move around with some degree of coordination)

For an interesting and informative article of G. Maheswaran on the Hispid Hare (Sanctuary Feature) please log on to:


References: Animal Info, IUCN Red List, “The Book of Indian Mammals” by S. H. Prater.

Vanishing Species – The Indian Tree Shrew (Madras Tree Shrew)

An article by Mohan Pai

Indian Tree Shrew
(Also called Madras Tree Shrew)
Anathana ellioti

Pic courtesy: S. Karthikeyan

Is it a primate or a rodent ?
An enigmatic and evolutionarily an unique creature, Madras Tree Shrew is endemic to peninsular India.
There exists a great controversy as to whether Tree Shrews (family Tupaiidae) should be placed in an order with primates or whether they are insectivores.
These creatures are mammals mostly found in south-east Asia. All tree shrews share some common characteristics: relatively small body mass, generally omnivorous (eating arthropods and fruit), the skeleton has an unspecialized placental mammalian pattern, all digits have claws, and the hands and feet are not prehensile. Not all of tree shrews are arboreal, some are mostly terrestrial, and the rest of the subspecies are probably best described as being semi-arboreal. Most tree shrews share many behavioral characteristics with squirrels, so much so that the Malay word tupai is used for both tree-shrews and squirrels.
Tree shrews are also included in the same order with primates by some. Now the characteristics that are shared between tree shrews and primates have been noted as to being primitive amongst placental mammals. Until more evidence can be found the status of where to place the tree-shrew will remain unresolved, so it can not be definitively said that tree shrews are primates. Taxonomists have now assigned it to a separate order – Scandentia.
The Madras Tree shrew (Anathana ellioti), also known as the Indian Tree shrew, is a small mammal that lives in the hilly forests of southern India. The Madras Tree shrew is omnivorous, and has the same kind of unspecified molars as the other Tree shrews in the order Scandentia. They resemble most other tree shrews, however have larger ears, and also are speckled brown, yellow or black over their fur. The main body of fur usually has a reddish tinge and the ventral area is white most of the time – although all these colorations will vary from individual to individual. They are usually 16-18 centimeters in length (6-7 inches) and the tail is usually that same length making the total length about 32-36 (13-17 inches long). On an average they will weigh about 160 grams (5 and a half ounces) although larger specimens have been recorded.
The habitat of the Madras Tree shrew is that of a partially moist to very moist forest habitat, with deciduous trees and shrubs making up the forest floor. However, they can also be found in the southern India slopes, and ravines, along with cultivated fields or pastures. They have proven to adapt to surrounding if the conditions are right and feast on the abundance of insect life in their chosen areas. They eat caterpillars, ants, butterflies, moths, and anything else that will satisfy – they also eat berries and seeds, and have been known to eat the fruit of the Lantana Camara, a very thorny but common shrub. Shrews are mainly nocturnal, but their high metabolic rates can lead to a daily food intake of up to their body weight or more, so they are in constant search of food.
Although the Madras Tree shrew has the word tree in its name, it is in fact uncommon to see one climb a tree, and when they do climb a tree it is usually a means of escape, or of play with younger Tree shrews, and maybe the rare exception of a safe place to self-groom – and to do this they will climb the tree, and then slide down it stretched out. They will repeat this at every angle until they feel sufficiently groomed. The majority of time is spent hidden on the forest floors, travelling under the bush, and inspecting their territories or looking for some insects or seeds to eat.
Madras Trees Shrews also like to build night shelters between soft ground and stones, which can be very complex or very simple. They rarely house more than one, as the tree shrew in general is a solitary species, with the Madras Tree shrew being one that is paired only during certain times of the year if at all. The behavior in regards to mating is not well known, however due to studies of their biology it is assumed that they can produce up to five young at a time. If they are at all similar to other tree shrews they may only spend a short time with their young, and their young will mature rapidly, leaving the nest in three to five months.

A few facts about the Madras Tree shrews
The Madras Tree shrew can be seen as similar to the squirrel, however a difference is that the tree shrew will walk with its tail in an upward curve and a curl that continues but curls the opposite direction.The name Anathana ellioti in which Anathana is the genus comes from the Tamil words Moongil Anathaan, which means â ˜Bamboo Squirrel” while ellioti, the species name, comes from the man who first documented the species – Sir Walter Elliot. The Madras Tree shrew mostly forages in the morning, rather than the evening, as an advantage over other foragers who start later in the day. The Madras tree shrew is listed as Near Threatened (Near Threatened (NT), is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future, or LR/nt), is close to qualifying for or is likely to qualify for a threatened category in the near future, on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
References: “A Field Guide to Indian Mammals” by Vivek Menon, Wikipedia.


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