Malaysian rodents eat from and make food for pitcher plants

It seems counterintuitive, but in rare cases carnivorous plants and herbivorous animals nourish each other in a mutually beneficial relationship.

Researchers have recently found that the carnivorous pitcher plant of Borneo takes the quest for nutrition a step further, establishing mutualistic relationships with more than one species of animal.

Monash University biologists in Australia and Malaysia have discovered an apparently unique situation where two species of small mammals, mountain treeshrews and summit rats, both feed on and feed pitcher plants.

The treeshrews and summit rats are attracted to carbohydrate-rich secretions produced by glands on the pitchers’ lids. After feeding on the nectar, the mammals defecate in the pitchers, providing much needed nutrients to pitcher plants.

Read more at Monash University

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