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Tenrecs: Tenrecidae

Common Tenrec (tenrec Ecaudatus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: A grayish brown to reddish brown animal with long, coarse hairs and a lighter-colored belly. It has small, beady eyes, small ears, a long and pointed snout with lengthy whiskers, a short and unnoticeable tail, and front legs that are a bit longer than the hind legs. Youngsters have streaked fur and two rows of blunt spines down their backs, but the stripes disappear when they get older, and the spines are covered with longer fur. Adults weigh about 42 to 70 ounces (1.2 to 2 kilograms), and are about 10.5 to 15.3 inches (26 to 39 centimeters) from nose to rump.

Geographic range: Common tenrecs live in Madagascar. Introduced populations also live on the islands of Comoros, Mascarenes, and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

Habitat: Common tenrecs usually live in forested areas with a nearby water source such as a river or paddy field.

Common tenrec adults live alone for most of the year, but males and females come together in the spring to mate. (Illustration by Gillian Harris. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Insects, earthworms, and other invertebrates are their primary food, but they will also eat small vertebrate animals, fruit, and plant roots on occasion.

Behavior and reproduction: Adults live alone for most of the year, spending days sleeping in the burrows they make, and nights on the prowl for food. In the dry winter months, food can become quite scarce, triggering the tenrecs to enter a state of deep sleep, called estivation, for up to several months. They mate in the spring, and females give birth to a single litter of twelve to thirty-two babies in the summer, which falls in December and January for these creatures of the Southern Hemisphere. The mother nurses her young for almost a month, then takes them out with her to search for insects and other food items. By the time they are two to two-and-a-half-months old, the youngsters leave the mother to live on their own.

Common tenrecs and people: Humans in Madagascar hunt this species for meat, which is considered a delicacy.

Conservation status: The common tenrec is not considered to be threatened. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsTenrecs: Tenrecidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Common Tenrec (tenrec Ecaudatus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, TENRECS AND PEOPLE