Madras treeshrew

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Madras treeshrew[1]
The Madras treeshrew (Anathana ellioti) by Davidraju img7.jpg
In Satpura National Park, Pachmarhi
CITES Appendix II (CITES)[3]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Scandentia
Family: Tupaiidae
Genus: Anathana
Lyon, 1913
A. ellioti
Binomial name
Anathana ellioti
Anathana ellioti map.png
Madras treeshrew range

The Madras treeshrew (Anathana ellioti), also known as the Indian treeshrew, is a species of treeshrew in the monotypic genus Anathana found in the hill forests of central and southern India. The genus name is derived from the Tamil name of moongil anathaan (literally "bamboo squirrel") and the species name is after Sir Walter Elliot of the Indian Civil Services in Madras.


A. e. ellioti from Yercaud, Tamil Nadu

This treeshrew is 16.0 to 18.5 cm long with a tail of 16.5 to 19.5 cm. The nominate race (type locality: Eastern Ghats, Madras. British Museum has the tail coloured like the back, the ground colour above being reddish-brown while the feet and hind legs are buff or ochraceous. The other two races have the tail coloured differently from the back. The race A. e. pallida (type locality: Manbhum, Bengal, collected by Robert Cecil Beavan British Museum has the colour of body above reddish-brown and the feet and hind legs grizzled buffy. Race A. e. wroughtoni (type locality: Mandvi, Surat, collected by R. C. Wroughton British Museum has the colour of body above dull grizzled brownish and the feet and hind legs grizzled greyish.[5] Some later workers lump all the three races.[6]

Its dental formula is × 2 = 38. The dentition is suited for an omnivorous diet.[7]

Some authors have suggested this species could be included within the genus Tupaia, although most have kept the genus separate based on anatomical differences.[8]


The Madras treeshrew is found on the Indian Subcontinent south of the Ganges River. Three subspecies have been described — A. e. ellioti of the Eastern Ghats, Biligirirangan[9] and the Shevaroy Hills and other hills of Southern India, A. e. pallida from Central India primarily in Madhya Pradesh and Raipur, and A. e. wroughtoni from the Satpura Range and the Dangs near Bombay. They have been reported within the Western Ghats ranges of Wayanad (Periya)[10] and Mahabaleshwar. The northernmost record is from Garhwa district of Bihar.[11] Little is known about the status of these populations as the distribution is patchy, but S. M. Mohnot considered them as "common" in 1975.[12]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Rest posture of the Madras treeshrew[13]

This species of treeshrew is not particularly arboreal and spends much of its time on the ground or clambering about on rocky terrain in the search of insects and seeds.[14] It is easily separated from the squirrels in the field by the shape and color of the tail and the upward curve in which it is held when walking about.

They have a behaviour of climbing up low, slanting trunks and sliding down headfirst.[15] This may be associated with scent marking, as many of the Scandentia have scent glands on their throats.

A species of sucking louse Docophthirus acinetus is found only on this species, the genus itself being restricted to hosts in the family Tupaiidae.[16] Endoparasitic microfiliriae have also been described from the species.[17] The Crested Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus cirrhatus) has been known to prey on this tree shrew.[18]


  1. ^ Helgen, K.M. (2005). "Order Scandentia". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Molur, S. (2016). "Anathana ellioti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T39593A22278758. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T39593A22278758.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Appendices | CITES". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
  4. ^ Waterhouse, G. (1850). "Description of a new species of Tupaia discovered in continental India by Walter Elliot Esq". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 1849: 106–108.
  5. ^ Wroughton, R. C. (1918). "Summary of the Indian Mammal Survey, Part 2". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 26: 28–29.
  6. ^ Srinivasulu, C. & Srinivasulu, B. (2004). "Checklist of Scandents and Pholidots (Mammalia: Scandentia and Pholidota) of South Asia" (PDF). Zoos' Print Journal. 19 (2): 1372–1374. doi:10.11609/jott.zpj.19.2.1372-4.
  7. ^ Verma, K. (1965). "Notes on the biology and anatomy of the Indian tree-shrew, Anathana wroughtoni". Mammalia. 29 (3): 289–330. doi:10.1515/mamm.1965.29.3.289. S2CID 84002920.
  8. ^ Olson, L.E.; Sargis, E.J. & Martin, R.D. (2004). "Phylogenetic relationships among treeshrews (Scandentia): A review and critique of the morphological evidence" (PDF). Journal of Mammalian Evolution. 11 (1): 49–71. doi:10.1023/b:jomm.0000029145.28207.6d. S2CID 13844857.
  9. ^ Srinivasan, Umesh; N.S. Prashanth; Shyamal Lakshminarayanan; Kalyan Varma; S. Karthikeyan; Sainath Vellal; Giri Cavale; Dilan Mandanna; Philip Ross & Thapa (26 May 2009). "Occurrence of the Madras Tree Shrew Anathana ellioti (Waterhouse) (Scandentia: Tupaiidae) in the Biligirirangan Hills, Karnataka, India" (PDF). Journal of Threatened Taxa. 1 (5): 283–286. doi:10.11609/jott.o2100.283-6. ISSN 0974-7907. Retrieved 2009-05-26.
  10. ^ George, N. (1989). "On the status of the Madras treeshrew (Anathana ellioti ellioti)". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 86 (3): 436–437.
  11. ^ Gupta, H. S. (1996). "On the occurrence of the Indian tree shrew (Anathana ellioti) in the Garhwa Forest, Bihar". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 93 (3): 581.
  12. ^ Mohnot SM (1978). "On the primate resources of India". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 75 (4): 961–969.
  13. ^ Karthikeyan, S. 1992. A Preliminary Study of the Indian Tree Shrew at Yercaud, India. Submitted to WWF-India, TamilNadu state office, Sponsored by WWF-US. September 1992 pages 40
  14. ^ Bora, S. (2002). "Anathana ellioti". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 2006-10-16. {{cite web}}: External link in |work= (help)
  15. ^ Chorazyna, H., G. Kurup. 1975. Observations on the Ecology and Behaviour of Anathana ellioti in the Wild. Contemporary Primatology: 5th International Congress of Primatology: 342-344.
  16. ^ Durden, Lance A. (1984). "Possible function of cephalic outgrowths of sucking lice (Anoplura) parasitic on tree shrews (Tupaiidae)". Journal of Medical Entomology. 21 (4): 470–471. doi:10.1093/jmedent/21.4.470. PMID 6492087.
  17. ^ Nandi NC (1982). "Brugia-type microfilariae in the Madras tree shrew Anathana ellioti (Waterhouse)". J. Helminthol. 56 (2): 93–94. doi:10.1017/S0022149X00034283. PMID 7096974. S2CID 45625064.
  18. ^ Sirdesai, V., M. Ali, and M. S. R. Shad. 2013. Crested Hawk-eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus feeding on Madras Treeshrew Anathana ellioti. Indian Birds 8(1):13.