Anatomy and function of the reproductive tract in the captive male tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri)

Biol Reprod. 1982 Feb;26(1):169-82. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod26.1.169.


The reproductive anatomy of the male tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) was examined and compared with other Tupaiidae. The testes are located prepenially in a pigmented scrotum which is fused to the base of a pendulous penis. The terminal portion of the vas deferens is differentiated into an ampullary gland and joins the duct of the seminal vesicle to form a short ejaculatory duct. The prostate is a compact bilateral body drained by a main collecting duct. In the aggregate, these features indicate that the reproductive system in Tupaia is primate in character. Testicular function in tree shrews is affected by both social and seasonal factors. When males were housed communally, the majority exhibited testicular degeneration accompanied by a loss in the weight and fructose content of the seminal vesicles and in pigmentation of the scrotum. These changes may be due to the presence of dominant conspecifics since animals kept in isolation undergo normal sexual development. Animals captured throughout the year and isolated show seasonal fluctuations in androgenic and spermatogenic function. Reproductive capacity is maximal during the winter and minimal during the summer. Local environmental factors appear to regulate reproductive function so that the greatest number of births occur during the dry season.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genitalia, Male / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Organ Size
  • Penis / anatomy & histology
  • Prostate / anatomy & histology
  • Reproduction*
  • Seasons
  • Seminal Vesicles / anatomy & histology
  • Spermatogenesis
  • Testis / anatomy & histology
  • Tupaia / anatomy & histology*
  • Tupaia / physiology*
  • Tupaiidae / anatomy & histology*
  • Tupaiidae / physiology*
  • Vas Deferens / anatomy & histology