Animals / Mammal Facts / Tenrecs - Little-Eyed Insect-Eaters

Tenrecs - Little-Eyed Insect-Eaters

streaked tenrec yellow black head


Ever hear of the tenrec? Well, if you haven't, now you will have heard of these slightly odd little creatures. There are 34 species within the family Tenrecidae, which is a group of mammals who live predominantly on the incredibly bio-diverse island of Madagascar, and scattered throughout isolated parts of the African continent. This is a very diverse, multi-colored family whose individual species might just get mistaken for a variety of rodents and even otters. A very adaptable group of mammals, tenrecs can live in and around water, in forests, deserts grasslands, lowlands and more.



lesser hedgehog tenrec


Small tenrec species have average body lengths around 2 inches (5 cm) and weigh less than a half an ounce! (~5 g) while the largest species - the tailless tenrec can grow up to 15 inches in length (39 cm) and weight about 2 and a half pounds at full growth (1 kg). These curious mammals are mostly nocturnal, and suffer from sub-par vision, this forces them to rely on other senses instead, particularly the tactile and olfactory senses provided by their extremely sensitive whiskers.

Fact: all Tenrecs are at least nominally omnivorous - though the largest part of most tenrec species' diets are made up of good amounts of insects. Though they greatly resemble lots of different mice and hedgehogs, they are not closely related with those animals at all - in fact, their closest relatives are other insect-eating mammals like aardvarks, elephant shrews and golden moles.


common tenrec


Tenrecs have a very quick gestation cycle - between 50-65 days, and like some rodents, their young are very underdeveloped and require a great deal of care in their early days. Many species of tenrecs handle this responsibility by living in large family groups that work together to gather food and care for the young.


streaked tenrec yellow black




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