Lifestyle and Lifespan
There are about 30 species of tenrec, most of whom live on the island of Madagascar. There are four sub-families of tenrecs, and the Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec is part of the Tenrecinae, or spiny tenrec, group. Though similar in appearance to hedgehogs, they are more closely related to shrews, moles, and otters.
The Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec is about 5-7 inches from nose to tail. They have long pointed noses with whiskers. They have excellent hearing and sense of smell but not great eyesight.
Covered in protective spines. The spines lay flat until the tenrec feels threatened; they lift the spines up with a muscle called the panniculus carnosus.
Found in dry deciduous forest, spiny forests arid coastal areas, semi-arid desert, scrublands, and open grasslands.
Found in dry deciduous forest, spiny forests arid coastal areas, semi-arid desert, scrublands, and open grasslands in southern and southwestern Madagascar.
Primarily insectivores, but may also eat some produce
Primarily insectivorous, though they do eat some fruit. They are eaten by fossa, snakes, and raptors.
Nocturnal. They go into torpor from May-October.
When threatened, the tenrec raises its spines and curls into a ball to protect its soft belly. Tenrecs go into torpor in the colder months (May-October). During torpor, body temperature drops and heart rate slows so that tenrecs can conserve their energy.
Solitary, except during torpor when they might be found together.
Mating occurs after coming out of torpor in October.
Litters are typically five to seven, but can be up to ten. Babies weigh eight grams. They are helpless at birth but are independent after 30-35 days. Babies are typically born in the wet season when more food is available.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec as Least Concern.
No major threats, though logging and slash-and-burn agriculture impact their habitat.
Reduce your use of single-use items. Be a smart shopper; research the items you buy to see if they are connected to logging our mining in Madagascar that is impacting animals habitats.
When tenrecs are stressed they secrete a milky-white substance from their eyes.
Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrecs have a cloaca (a single reproductive, intestinal, and urinary opening) which is rare among placental mammals.
Evidence suggests that Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrecs use echolocation. They make clicking sounds with their tongues that help them to navigate.
“AnAge Entry for Echinops telfairi.” AnAge: The Animal Ageing and Longevity Database.” genomics.senescence.info/species/entry.php?species=Echinops_telfairi. Accessed 24 July 2018.
“Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec.” Utah’s Hogle Zoo. www.hoglezoo.org/meet_our_animals/animal_finder/lesser_hedgehog_tenrec/. Accessed 24 July 2018
“Lesser Madagascar Hedgehog Tenrec.” Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/lesser-madagascar-hedgehog-tenrec. Accessed 24 July 2018.
“Tenrec.” San Diego Zoo. animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/tenrec. Accessed 24 July 2018.
Finlay, Sive. “Echolocating Tenrecs.” EcoEvo @ TCD: Trinity College Dublin, Ecology and Evolution. www.ecoevoblog.com/2014/03/28/echolocating-tenrecs/. Accessed 24 July 2018.
Stephenson, Peter J. “Tenrecs in Madagascar.” IUCN Afrotheria Specialist Group. http://www.afrotheria.net/tenrecs/. Accessed 24 July 2018.
Stephenson, P.J., Soarimalala, V. & Goodman, S. 2016. “Echinops telfairi.” The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T40592A97188634.en. Accessed 21 July 2018.