A “Pitcher” for Pete and Patty

Tree shrews have a symbiotic relationship with pitcher plants. These carnivorous plants offer yummy nectar and insects for the tree shrews to eat, and in return the tree shrews will defecate in the plant, providing additional nutrients for the plant to digest. While this may not seem like an ideal relationship to a human, for tree shrews and pitcher plants, there’s nothing better than the bond these organisms share.

Pete, the Virginia Zoo’s male Northern tree shrew, is celebrating his 6th birthday on June 17th. In honor of his birthday, Chef Yohn picked Pete and Patty, the Zoo’s female Northern tree shrew, to be the recipients of this month’s Animeals recipe! To encourage their natural behaviors, Chef Yohn wanted to incorporate pitcher plants, however the Zoo doesn’t have any of these plants that are available to use, so he substituted beautiful flowers instead.

This sweet and nutritious recipe was a hit for Patty, but Pete was a little too shy to attend his own birthday party and munch on his treat. Keepers say he indulged in his meal once the Zoo had closed for the evening, which is still a success in our books! Check out what went into this unique Animeals recipe handcrafted by Chef Yohn!

magnificent magnolia munchies

INGREDIENTS (per tree shrew):

• Pitcher plant (or something similar, in this case Magnolia flowers)

• 18g insectivore diet

• 38g total mixed fruits and veggies – grape, blackberry, carrot, sweet potato, pear


• 1 teaspoon of honey

• 1/4 cup water


Step 1: Pick your flower! Chef Yohn used Magnolia flowers as they were readily available and big enough to hold the food.

Step 2: Weigh out insectivore diet, fruits and veggies.

Step 3: Chop up the fruits and veggies into tiny pieces.

Step 4: Combine the insectivore diet and mixed fruits and veggies together.

Step 5: Fill the Magnolia flowers.

Step 6: Mix the honey and water in a small squirt bottle.

Step 7: Drizzle the honey reduction inside the flowers on top of the food mixture.

Step 8: Serve to the Tree shrews!

Join us next month for an Animeals with our African lions!