What does it take to be a tree-hugger? A pair of Birkenstocks? A wardrobe comprised of hemp? A barrage of other non-helpful stereotypes? Well, not at Animal Facts. Our favorite tree-huggers wear no clothes at all. Giggity. We’re speaking of course about our arboreal animal friends. What’s that? Arboreal animals are animals that spend most or all of their time in the trees and we’ve put together a list of our favorites. Let’s get started. But before we start, take a moment to like and subscribe for more fun, fauna facts.
Starting out slowly, sloths are named after the capital sin of Sloth because they seem slow and lazy at first glance; however, their usual idleness is due to metabolic adaptations for conserving energy, unlike us that just want to watch another season on Netflix. It is said that the sloth moves as if it were powered by the wrong battery. Sleeping around 20 hours a day, the sloth is the second sleepiest mammal, right after the koala, featured later in this list. While it sleeps, the sloth hangs upside down from tree branches. Sloths usually only leave the tree they live in to go to the potty once a week on the ground, because as we all know there isn’t any good reading material in the treetops. This is when they are most vulnerable to being attacked by predators such as jaguars and snakes.
9. Green Tree Python
The Green Tree Python lives in areas where most people will never get a chance to see one. Green Tree Pythons are found in the rainforests, bushes, and shrubs of New Guinea, its surrounding islands and the very north of Australia. They are solitary and they spend their life among the branches of trees, only descending to the ground to move between them. They have a slender shape and a prehensile tail, a tail that has evolved to grasp or hold objects. With this tail, they are able to grasp tree branches as they move among them.
Woodpeckers are known as lumberjacks of the forest, they carve holes in trunks of medium and large sized trees to reach for the termites or delicious ants that are hidden within. Most woodpecker species depict multiple adaptations of tree living, like modified toes for climbing, neck and a bill strong for drilling in woods, and sharp enough spines in its tail feathers which stabilize the woodpecker as it looks for food.
7. Sunda Flying Lemur
The name flying lemur is misleading, as they are neither lemurs or able to truly fly. Instead it is a species of colugo and Instead, it glides as it leaps among trees. But, with the ability to glide over 100 meters or 328 feet, who needs to fly? The Sunda Flying Lemur is strictly arboreal, is active at night, and feeds on soft plant parts such as young leaves, shoots, flowers, and fruits.
6. Spider Monkey
There are seven different species of spider monkeys that live in Central and South America and in northern parts of Mexico. Spider monkeys live in wet and dense tropical rainforests. Spider monkeys get their name from the way they hang from the trees by holding different branches with their limbs and long tails, “shaped” like spiders. Spider monkeys are true aerial acrobats of the tree canopy and fly through the forest using its long arms and prehensile tails.
5. Tree Frog
You have likely seen or heard a tree frog at some point because there are so many different species found throughout the globe. Using their strong limbs they can leap from one branch to the other. And, their sticky toes give them support to climb on most any surface. Tree frogs are a diverse family of amphibians that includes over 800 species. But, not all tree frogs live in trees, oddly enough, but they are united by a claw-shaped toe, used to grasp objects. While most North American species are rather bland, those found in tropical climates can be quite colorful.
4. Tree Kangaroo
We’ve got to be joking right? An arboreal kangaroo? The tree kangaroo is mostly at home in the trees, occasionally venturing to the ground to move to another tree. Compared to other kangaroos, the tree kangaroos have stronger claws which help them climb. Their long tails aren’t prehensile, but it acts as a balance as they climb along branches. They are also able to move each hind leg independently, giving them the agility required for arboreal life. Boom, mind blown.
Chameleons are a unique branch of the lizard group of reptiles, of which there are about 160 known species. The feet of chameleons are highly adapted to movement in trees. On each foot there are five clearly distinguished toes that are grouped into a flattened section of either two or three toes, giving each foot a pincher-like appearance. These specialized feet allow chameleons to grip tightly onto narrow or rough branches. Many people think chameleons change color to blend in with their surroundings. Scientists disagree. Their studies show that light, temperature, and mood cause chameleons to change color. Sometimes changing color can make the chameleon more comfortable. Sometimes it helps them communicate with other chameleons.
The Koala takes No. 2 on our list for being the most cuddly and cute among all of the treehugger species. The Koala spends its whole life in eucalyptus trees and has two opposable thumbs, like humans, on its front paws to help it climb, to hold onto trees and to grip its food. Although arboreal, on ground, the koala can run as fast as a rabbit.
The Orangutan is perhaps the most intelligent among all tree huggers and is considered as the king of the trees. Orangutans spend all of their time in the trees, where they raise their young, sleep, eat and breed. An orangutan’s arms reach a length up to 7 feets, and their hand-like feet allows them to grab branches tightly as they swing their bodies from one branch to the other. Its limbs are flexible and its hip and shoulder joints are capable of a greater range of motion than other apes. This gives them the grace, agility, and speed unmatched among tree huggers animals.
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