Animals That Live In Trees: Must Know Tree Dwelling Animal Facts

Joan Agie
Mar 08, 2024 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Nov 12, 2021
Young birds have warmer tones in their plumage

Animals are present everywhere.

There are 8.7 million species in the world. Animals can easily adapt to any environment to enhance their survival.

They live in all areas ranging from dry deserts to the deep oceans. Many mammals, reptiles, insects, and other animals live on trees.

Such animals that live in a tree canopy are called arboreal animals. The name arboreal is derived from the Latin word arboreus which means tree-like. The earliest known arboreal mammal is Agilodocodon scansorius, a genus of shrew-sized docodont that lived during the Middle Jurassic epoch.

These tree-dwelling animals use a lot of techniques like gliding, brachiating (moving from one branch to another branch), and parachuting to move between trees rapidly. They have other special adaptations which allow them to move among the trees without falling down and breaking their bones now and then.

Check out our other interesting articles on Orangutan facts and the aquatic ecosystem in your free time.

What are arboreal animals?

Seeing animals hanging upside down or jumping from one tree to another is very common. Such animals which live or spend most of their time on trees are called arboreal animals.

There are hundreds of species that live in a tree canopy or a thick forest region. Living on trees is not as easy as living on the ground. Reproduction, feeding, playing and many other activities are carried out on trees.

Why do animals live on trees? The main reason why these animals choose trees as their habitat is to escape from predators. They can easily hide amidst the foliage and move from one tree to another without getting caught.

Based on the size and weight, they occupy specific regions of trees. Those animals that are large and heavy, often live in the midsections of trees. They are mainly found in tropical forests. How do they manage on trees?

How do they not fall off? Climbing trees can be easy, but living there is not a simple task. Arboreal animals have special adaptations which allow them to live on trees.

The bodies of such tree-dwelling animals are adapted to these conditions and built in a way that does not restrict their movements and allows them to swing from one branch to another. This swinging behavior that allows arboreal locomotion is called brachiation.

This behavior can be observed in almost all members of the mammal family. These primates have exceptionally long arms, which allow them to reach tall branches and trees.

Gibbons are the fastest arboreal animals that can swing at a speed of 34.17 mph (55 kph). Gibbons can reach up to 49 ft (15 m) with just one swing.

They have wrists that can be rotated effortlessly, allowing them to make sudden turns and twists. The locomotion is further facilitated by the rotating ankles and sharp claws.

Their tails are also capable of grasping branches, climbing, and other things which allow them to move more steadily and come in handy when they lose balance. Such long-tails are called prehensile tails. The chances of sustaining injuries are generally higher for these animals as they spend all their time in brachiation.

One slip and they can wind up with dislocated bones and shattered spines. To avoid this, they have well-developed feet and sharp claws, which helps them have a firm grasp.

Arboreal animals also have shorter spines and long limbs. A small body with long limbs makes it easier to carry the body without being burdened.

The limbs also increase stability and lower the center of mass. Animals like tree frogs have sticky feet which attach themselves to branches.

The legs do not have gums but rather work based on suction. These adaptations help them maneuver comfortably and steer clear of locomotive injuries.

What is an animal that has long legs, that is nocturnal and lives in the trees?

There are 2500 arboreal species. All of them have long legs and most of them are nocturnal. It is not possible to fit all of them in one article, so we have a few examples of animals that live in trees listed.

Bats: We have always seen bats hanging upside down from trees. It is a scary thing to witness at night. Most of the bats are dark-colored, which makes it difficult to spot them at night.

This is why they are most active at night. They have a special adaption for this as well. It is called echolocation.

They emit sounds that are reflected back in the presence of objects or walls. This is how they move without crashing into walls or trees. Their grasping power is so high that they can sleep peacefully while hanging upside down.

Kinkajous: Kinkajous belongs to the same family as raccoons. There are seven species of kinkajou. They are often mistaken for a monkey.

These animals are mainly found in the forests of Central and South America. A kinkajou has feet that can rotate 180 degrees, allowing them to move backward as well as forward without altering their body positions. It also has a prehensile tail.

Night Monkeys: Night monkeys are also known as owl monkeys. These monkeys are the only true nocturnal monkeys. They depend on olfactory cues while locating predators and foraging, as they have color blindness. They are known for their remarkably long leaps and agility. However, they are quite sluggish when compared to other arboreal animals.

Koalas: These arboreal marsupials are famous due to their sleeping abilities. Koalas sleep for 18 hours each day. They have quite a few adaptations which allow them to rest peacefully on trees without falling down.

They have long arms and legs which allow them to hug trees. Koalas also have sharp claws. These claws are used to dig into the tree trunks and prevent them from falling.

The textured paws add more power to the grip. Koalas sleep for such a long time in the tree canopy as the food they eat does not provide enough energy for their bodies to be as active as others. They sleep to avoid exertion and to conserve energy.

Sloths: An interesting fact about sloths is that they fall down from trees at least once a week. They have specialized tendons which ensure that they don't fall down often.

Scientists say that the body of a sloth is anatomically designed in such a way to manage falling down without sustaining injuries. They can fall from a 328 ft (100 m) tree and still not get injured. Fascinating, right?

We have heard our PE teachers say don't move like a sloth. This is because sloths are very slow and only move at a speed of 0.16 mph (0.27 kph).

Which animals make their homes in trees?

Arboreal animals are creatures that dwell on trees. We have listed some of those that live in trees below.

Orangutan: Orangutans are found in the forests of Borneo and Sumatra. Just like humans, these primates live on tree beds. They weave leaves, twigs, and small branches together to form a bowl-shaped cradle. The biggest arboreal mammals in the world are orangutans.

Italian Tree Frog: Tree frogs are some of the animals that have adapted to arboreal life. They have toes that work like suction pads. It latches to any surface like a tree branch and holds the body of the tree frogs steadily.

Chameleon: This arboreal animal is known for its color-changing ability. They have long tails and sharp claws which help them balance their bodies, even on thin branches and twigs. They sleep on twigs or branches that are surrounded by leaves to avoid predation.

Tree Kangaroo: Tree kangaroos are mainly found in the rainforests of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia. Tree kangaroos are the largest arboreal mammals in Australia. A tree kangaroo is mostly spotted in the upper parts of a tree.

Lemur: A lemur rests in a tree hole or on the branch of a tree. For the most part, lemurs are seen resting in nests made of dried grass and lined with hair from their own body.

Squirrels: Squirrels don't live in holes. They build nests that look like messy clumps.

It might look like they have just put together whatever they see, but they put a lot of effort into building them by carefully choosing materials for each layer and placing them in such a way that one does not hinder the effect of the other. They have to choose the materials based on temperatures and insect infestations.

Did you know, flying squirrels are mainly found in South America? Besides gliding, this species can also glow in the dark.

Flying Snakes: These wonderful gliders live on trees. Unlike other arboreal animals, flying snakes do not have special hideouts or resting places. They rest on a tree branch.

Spider Monkeys: Spider monkeys are arboreal creatures that live in trees. They favor trees with wide, open crowns and horizontally split branches. This helps individuals to keep a comfortable posture while sleeping for long hours.

These animals also have prehensile tails, which provide additional support while climbing trees. Not all primates have prehensile tails, but most of the New World monkey species have this tail. Other animals like the harvest mouse, opossum, and tree pangolin also have a prehensile tail.

Which animals build things?

We learn a lot from animals. Several architects say that they are inspired by structures built by animals. Given below are some examples of the creative engineers in the Animalia kingdom.

Bees: Bee hives are the most efficient structures in our environment. The surface of a beehive is divided into equal hexagon-shaped structures, with each of them merging with the other perfectly. Bees have figured a way to manage this without using scales and measuring tapes.

Hence, they are called the best builders. The well-adapted structure is not just built in a forest but also in buildings and other residential areas. Worker bees spend half of their life building hives.

Ants: Ants are some of the best builders that are capable of building large mounts. It's amazing how they manage to create such magnificent structures despite their small size.

These complex insects use their mandibles to gather grains of soil to complete the mount. They do this in the dark and with no expert guidance. Anthills can last up to 30 years.

Montezuma Oropendola: These birds build hanging nests. They weave basket-like structures by using plant materials like twigs, branches, etc that are attached to the trees with two handle-like structures made of the same materials combined with strong vines and fibers. They usually build these structures on isolated trees where other predators don't enter.

Termites: Termites also build mounds and are popularly known as master builders. As they are capable of building mounds that can reach a height of 16 ft (4.87 m). These structures are constructed by using regurgitated wood materials, mud, and feces. These mounds have all the facilities and are very airy too.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy!

If you liked our suggestions for animals that live in trees: must know tree dwelling animal facts, then why not take a look at are roses poisonous to cats, learn why roses are not for your kitty or curious platypus saga: an animal that lays eggs but is not a bird?

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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