Dendrogale murinanorthern smooth-tailed tree shrew

Geographic Range

Northern smooth-tailed tree shrews are distributed in eastern India, Southeast Asia, and on some of the Malaysian islands (von Holst, 1990).


Dendrogale murina resides in tropical forests with elevations up to 1500 m above sea level.

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1500 m
    0.00 to 4921.26 ft

Physical Description

Dendrogale murina is the smallest of 19 species in the order Scandentia. The head-body length is 11.5 cm, with a tail length of 4 to 5 cm, weighing in at approximately 35 to 55 g. They are light in color and have facial markings, which are used to distinguish between the other smooth-tailed shrew (Dendrogale melanura), which lacks these facial markings.The upper body is brown/blackish in color, while the underside is lighter. They are short-haired and lack shoulder stripes. The tail is dark and becomes increasingly darker as it nears the tip. This species has relatively small claws (Nowak and Paradiso, 1983).

  • Range mass
    35 to 55 g
    1.23 to 1.94 oz


Dendrogale murina tend to breed when fruiting of local trees and shrubs is at its maximum (Blomstrom, 2001). Their weaning time is about 30 days and they usually give birth to twins. Infant Northern Smooth-tailed Tree Shrews are born weighing 6 to 10 g and are hairless, blind, and totally dependent on the mother. The mother lactates from just two nipples. The mother's milk is very high in fat content. On average a pair of these shrews mate and produce young every 45 days. Dendrogale murina reach sexual maturity after 2 months. Once sexual maturity has reached, the young are forced out of the nest; they live on their own until they find a suitable mate (von Holst, 1990).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • viviparous
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average weaning age
    30 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 months
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 months


In captivity D. murina live 9 to 10 years, but in the wild they can live to a little over 12 years (von Holst, 1990).

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    12 (high) years
  • Typical lifespan
    Status: captivity
    9 to 10 years


Northern smooth-tailed tree shrews are predominantly aboreal.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The diet of northern smooth-tailed tree shrews consists mostly of fruit, arthropods, and small vertebrates. The digestive tracts of D. murina are very simple, which allows them to pass food very fast. This means that they must eat basically all day long to maintain their energy (Eckstrom, 1996).

  • Animal Foods
  • mammals
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • fruit

Conservation Status

Not too well known, but D. murina seem to be abundant

(von Holst, 1990).


James Kyle (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ondrej Podlaha (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Blomstrom, D. "Tree Shrews" (On-line). Accessed October 9, 2001 at

Eckstrom, C. Nov/Dec 1996. What is a Tree Shrew?. International Wildlife, 26: 22-27.

Gould, D., D. McKay. 1998. Pp. 86-87 in The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Sydney: Weldon Owen Pty Limited.

Nowak, R., J. Paradiso. 1983. Pp. 4-12 in Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol 2, Fourth Edition. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.

von Holst, D. 1990. Tree Shrews. Pp. 2-12 in Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.