Arboreal animals and their adaptational features


  • Tree living animals which lead an arboreal mode of life.
  • They are classified into three types based on the adaptation to the arboreal or scansorial mode of life.

1. Wall and rock climbers

  • Provided with claws and adhesive discs in their limbs.
  • They can easily move on the plain surfaces of the walls.
  • Kangaroos use their tail as a balancing pole to leap from rock to rock.
  • Gecko-Lizard is a typical example of wall climber.

2. Terrestrio-Arboreal forms

  • Usually nest on the trees.
  • Periodically makes visit to the ground for gathering foods.
  • E.g, sloth bear, rodents, African flying squirrel.

3. Arboreal forms

  • Usually tree dwellers.
  • Further divided as:

a) Branch runners

b) Forms suspended beneath branches and

c) Forms swinging by the forelimbs.

  • They possess following adaptations:

i) Strong chest and ribs

  • They have strong chest, ribs and limb girdles.
  • Thorax is sub-circular in shape and the ribs have greater curvature.

ii) Strong girdle bones

  • Pelvic and pectoral girdles are strong to support the body weight during climbing and hanging.
  • Ilium of pelvic girdle is very broad and it serves to support the viscera.

iii) Grasping type of feet

  • Feet are prehensile or non-prehensile type.
  • Adhesive pads are present in many forms on the tips of the digits or underneath the sole of feet.
  • Lamellae might be present in some cases on the ventral side of the digits.
  • It helps to create vacuum to stick to the surface.

Image result for prehensile feet primate     Image result for prehensile feet primate

iv) Stout body

  • Stout and laterally compressed body is present.
  • Such body offers the least resistance while running.

v) Prehensile tail

  • It is one of the common features among the arboreal forms.
  • It is very long and used to balance the body during locomotion.
  • e.g., primates, opposums, pit vipers, etc.
  • Branch runners- squirrel, marsupials, lemurs, etc.
  • Forms suspended beneath the branches- sloths, bats, etc.
  • Forms swinging by the forelimbs- primates (gibbons and apes).

vi) Protrusible tongue

  • Long protrusible tongue makes them easy to catch the prey.

Image result for protrusible tongue in arboreal    Related image

vii) Presence of neck

  • Neck helps to locate preys and enemies as it provides mobility to the head which enhances the efficiency of eyes.

viii) Claws

  • Digits are with sharp and well developed claws.
  • Help the animal in walking and climbing on branches of tree and other vertical surfaces.


Image result for arboreal adaptations features

ix) Changeable body colour

  • Can change their body colour.
  • Protect the animals to hide from the enemies.
  • Phenomenon is called mimicry.


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Arboreal animals and their adaptational features