Binomial name: Ptilocercus lowii, John Edward Gray, 1848
The pen-tailed treeshrew (Ptilocercus lowii) is a treeshrew species of the Ptilocercidae family, and is the only species in the genus Ptilocercus. All other treeshrews are grouped in the Tupaiidae family. It is native to southern Thailand, the Malay Peninsular, Borneo and some Indonesian islands.
The pen-tailed treeshrew is the only known wild mammal that chronically (i.e., not just occasionally) consumes alcohol. A study of the treeshrew in Malaysia found that it spends several hours consuming the equivalent of 10 to 12 glasses of wine with an alcohol content of up to 3.8% every night drinking naturally fermented nectar of the bertam palm. This nectar contains one of the highest alcohol concentrations of all natural foods. Pen-tailed treeshrews frequently consume large amounts of this nectar while showing no signs of intoxication. Measurements of a biomarker of ethanol breakdown suggest that they may be metabolizing it by a pathway that is not used as heavily by humans, a fellow member of the grandorder of mammals Euarchonta. Since pen-tailed treeshrews are considered a primitive ancestor for all treeshrews and primates, the ability to ingest high amounts of alcohol is hypothesized to have been an evolutionary adaptation in the phylogenic tree. However, it is unclear how the pen-tailed treeshrews benefit from this alcohol ingestion or what consequences of consistent high blood alcohol content might factor into their physiology.
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- Ptilocercus lowii
- Feather-tailed treeshrew
- Pen-tailed treeshrew
Least Concern (IUCN3.1)