Greater Madagascar hedgehog tenrec

Class: Mammalia
Order: Afrosoricida
Family: Tenrecidae
Genus and Species: Setifer setosus
  • small animal with black and tan bristly fur and a short pointed snout
Share this page:

Greater Madagascar hedgehog tenrec

Greater Madagascar tenrecs are spiky, nocturnal, insectivorous small mammals. Tenrec species come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. They live only in Madagascar, where they were one of the first mammals to colonize.

Physical Description

Greater Madagascar tenrecs have short, fine spines all over their backs and short muscular tails, with hair on their face, legs, and undersides. Their whiskers are long and patterned, and their eyes are small.

Size

They have a head and body length of 6 to 9 inches (150 to 220 millimeters) with a small tail .5 inches (15 to 16 millimeters) long. They weigh about 6 to 9 ounces (180 to 270 grams).

Native Habitat

Greater Madagascar tenrecs are found throughout the island of Madagascar, where they live in dry forests, across farmlands and even in towns and urban areas. They are thought to be adaptable animals, with a relatively stable population.

Communication

When they're alarmed, tenrecs produce a pusling keen. This sound is barely audible, and is delivered as a chain of pulses at a rate of eight per second.

Food/Eating Habits

Greater Madagascar tenrecs are insectivorous and carnivorous. In the wild they are opportunistic feeders and forage on the ground and in trees for invertebrates. They will also eat some other small animals, such as baby mice.

At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, they are fed mealworms, canned cat food, and dry insectivore diet.

Social Structure

When threatened, they have the ability to roll up completely into a ball, tucking their head and limbs toward their belly.

If a tenrec decides to attack, it does so with its the spines erect, head lowered, and brow spines up and pointed forward, in an attempt to stab the spines into their opponent's body.

Reproduction and Development

Females give birth to litters of two to five babies. Babies are born nearly naked with gray skin and very short white-to-tan bristles on their heads and backs. Babies usually open their eyes when they are between 11 and 13 days old.

Sleep Habits

Greater Madagascar tenrecs are primarily active at night. They shelter in tree crevices or small holes in the ground during the day. They can also enter daily and seasonal torpor, or hibernation.

Lifespan

They can live for up to 8 to 10 years in the wild, and to about 13 years in human care.

Though they are listed as a species of least concern, due to a widespread population across a range of primary and disturbed habitats, greater Madagascar tenrecs do face the threat of overhunting.