Peculiar fauna and their strange ways

Plants are sometimes underestimated as being less interesting than the vibrant and busy animal kingdom. This month we’re looking at plants that have proved that they can be as remarkable in their ways as any of us.

Tree shrew feeding on nectar of a pitcher plant
Illustration: © Rama Ramesh

Taming the shrew

You’ve probably heard of the pitcher plant and its clever mechanism to trap and eat insects.

But what is more interesting is the relationship one species of the pitcher plant has developed with the tree shrew, a small rodent.

The plant badly needs nitrogen, it doesn’t matter in which form, and for that purpose, it readily transforms into a mini toilet. The shrew feeds on the nectar without falling inside the pitcher and returns the favour by defecating right into the pitcher, thus providing the nitrates that the plant needs!

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Rama Ramesh
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Rama Ramesh

Rama Ramesh is a creative writer who has written stories and features for children’s magazines and has co-authored a series of nanotechnology books for kids.