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Tenrecs: Tenrecidae

Yellow-streaked Tenrec (hemicentetes Semispinosus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: A small, black tenrec with a mane of longer golden-yellow to whitish hairs as well as yellow to whitish stripes down the center and on either side of its face. It has a lighter-colored belly, and its back sports scattered, long, yellowish spines. This species has small eyes, black ears, and a long, pink snout, but no noticeable tail. The yellow-streaked tenrec is about 6 to 7.5 inches (15 to 19 centimeters) long, and weighs 3 to 7 ounces (90 to 220 grams).

Yellow-streaked tenrecs may live alone (like most other tenrecs), or they may share their burrows with up to twenty-four family members. (© H. Uible/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: This is a burrowing species that lives in humid forests, as well as shrubby areas, frequently near a water source.

Diet: The yellow-streaked tenrec prefers earthworms but will also eat other invertebrates.

Behavior and reproduction: Unlike most other tenrecs, which are loners much of the year, yellow-streaked tenrecs can either live alone or share their burrows with up to two dozen members of their families, including parents, grandparents, cousins, and siblings. Females may have more than one litter per year, usually with five to eight babies at a time. The babies quickly mature, becoming old enough to mate at just five weeks old.

Yellow-streaked tenrecs survive the dry winter months by estivating in their burrows.

This tenrec's spines come in two types: barbed and stridulating (STRIH-juh-late-ing). A barbed spine is sharp with tiny barbs, or hooklike structures, at the end. These spines detach easily from the animal. When a predator is foolish enough to nip at this tenrec, it gets a mouthful of spines that fall off the tenrec and stick in the predator. Stridulating spines aren't barbed, and don't fall off the tenrec's body so easily, but they do have their own unusual characteristic: they produce a sound when rubbed against one another.

Yellow-streaked tenrecs and people: This species has little contact with humans. Humans do not consider them pets, pests, or a source of meat.

Conservation status: The yellow-streaked tenrec is not considered to be threatened. ∎



Garbutt, N. Mammals of Madagascar. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.

Goodman, S. M., and J. P. Benstead, eds. The Natural History of Madagascar. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003.


Eisenberg, J. F., and E. Gould. "The Tenrecs: A Study in Mammalian Behavior and Evolution." Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 27 (1970): 78–89.

Web sites:

Gorog, A. "Tenrec ecaudatus." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tenrec_ecaudatus.html (accessed on July 1, 2004).

"Hemicentetes semispinosus: Lowland Streaked Tenrec." http://info.bio.sunysb.edu/rano.biodiv/Mammals/Hemicentetes-semispinosus/ (accessed on July 1, 2004).

IUCN 2003. 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. http://www.redlist.org (accessed on July 1, 2004).

Shefferly, N. "Hemicentetes semispinosus." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hemicentetes_semispinosus.html (accessed on July 1, 2004).

"Tenrec ecaudatus: Common Tenrec." http://info.bio.sunysb.edu/rano.biodiv/Mammals/Tenrec-ecaudatus/ (accessed on July 1, 2004).

"Tenrecidae—Tenrecs—Borstelegels." http://www.animalsonline.be/insectivora/borstelegels/common_tenrec.html (accessed on July 1, 2004).

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