More often than not, the term ‘treehugging’ calls to mind the activities of the environmentally conscious – eco-warriors who chain themselves to trees in a bid to stop them being destroyed, or simply those with a love of all things green. But it’s not just humans that hug trees. There are many incredible animals that are partial to it too, from this cute but grumpy golden lion tamarin to the sadly endangered orangutan. Perhaps they’re sending us a message about the importance of protecting the environments they inhabit?
Tarsiers are unique in that they’re the world’s only completely carnivorous primate. As this pic shows, they can also hug a tree with ease. This may be due in part to their extended middle finger, which can grow as long as their upper arms! Sounds tailor-made for wrapping around things! Despite their distinctly unferocious looks, tarsiers are nimble hunters and can even catch a flying bird as they jump between the trees.
The way this blue iguana is affectionately cuddling up to its tree you’d be forgiven for thinking it was warm-blooded. Blue iguanas aren’t known to be tree-dwelling (or arboreal) but can climb up to 15 feet when necessary. This one may need some comfort, given its species’ status as critically endangered. Hang in there buddy!
The tree-dwelling three-toed sloth has claws well adapted to hugging and holding on, as this baby sloth ably demonstrates. As their name implies, sloths are slow when they move among the trees, although this is more down to the desire to evade predators than laziness. Bonus fact: three-toed sloths are surprisingly adept swimmers!
It may look like an overgrown pussycat but one swipe of this adorable jaguar’s powerful limbs can easily kill. Cats scratch objects not only to condition their claws but also to mark their territory with their scent, as anyone with a pet kitty knows!
This cuddly little cub may be ‘hugging’ the tree because it sensed danger. Older bears climb trees to get to mast – reproductive vegetation like acorns – which is a part of their diet. Baby bears like the one pictured here will often climb trees if threatened and let their protective mothers fend off any predators.
The howler monkey sure has a unique way to hug! By using its prehensile tail, this monkey can rest without worrying about falling off. We’re lucky we’re seeing it from this side, though — howler monkey tails are naked on the underside, and we’d be lying if we said they were pretty to look at…
A goanna is an Australian monitor lizard and, as this hug shows, some are arboreal. Be careful though! If frightened, these large lizards (some grow up to 2 meters in length) have been known to mistake humans for trees and attempted to run up them to safety. We certainly wouldn’t fancy one of these beasties clambering up our leg…
What a cute coati! These adorable South American mammals are members of the raccoon family. They have another trick when it comes to treehugging: they’re double-jointed and can rotate their ankles more than 180 degrees, allowing them to descend head-first down a tree. And just when you think they can’t get any cuter, alternative names for these endearing critters include crackoons and snookum bears!
Kittens hug trees for all sorts of reasons. As with their wild cousins, territory-marking and claw-conditioning is part of it, but play is a big factor too. They may be exploring their environment, chasing a butterfly, or just getting ready for a nice relaxing stretch and a snooze!
This may be a stump rather than a tree but this pic was so darn cute we just had to include it! Pandas use hollow trees as shelter, and, like cats, will often claw trees to mark them with their scent.
A porcupine can hug a tree any way it likes but how do you hug a porcupine? Pretty carefully, that’s how! Only New World porcupines – found in the woods of North America – climb and live in trees; the Old World ones (found across Africa and India) do not.
Hardly a surprising entry, but squirrels are pretty keen treehuggers too. Perhaps they’re thanking the trees for being a provider of everything they need. After all, these mighty plants offer squirrels food, a gymnasium, and a home – complete with handy storage units! Anyone out on a woodland walk can’t help but be captivated by squirrels darting and leaping among the branches.
These two adorable bandits look like they are trying to outdo each other in treehugging! Raccoons often bolt to high ground when threatened, but will also use hollows in trees to sleep in. Looks like these guys had a bit of a shock and decided to head for the same tree!
These amazing great apes are true treehuggers, living most of their life in the trees and building nests from the branches. Some of these nests even include orangutan versions of bunk beds, pillows and blankets.
Yet this orangutan also sends out a message about the importance of conserving our forests. As a member of a critically endangered species, it’d be difficult to find a more apt instance of treehugging. Not only is this beautiful creature hanging on it to its literal environment, it’s also hanging on to survival itself.