Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec

Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec


Southern and southwestern Madagascar.


Dry forest, dry coastal regions, and semidesert


Its spiny coat is used to deter predators and is vibrated for communication with other tenrecs.  When threatened, the lesser tenrec will roll into a ball, hiss and grind its teeth.  If bitten, the spines stick into the mouth and muzzle of the predator.

Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec

Lesser hedgehog tenrecs are one of 30 species of tenrec found on the island of Madagascar. These small mammals are adapted to fill the role of mice, hedgehogs, shrews, and opossums found in other parts of the world. This species is found living both on land and in trees and is nocturnal—spending its days sleeping and its nights foraging for food. During dry seasons, when food is scarce, it may become torpid—a state in which its body temperature drops and its metabolism slows dramatically— this can last for periods of three to five months, helping it to conserve energy.


After gestation of about 49 days, a litter of one to ten young (usually five to seven) is born. The young weigh only about eight grams, and become independent after 30 to 35 days.

Interesting Facts:
  • When threatened, these tenrecs curl into a ball, leaving only sharp spines—modified hairs—exposed.
  • It depends on its good sense of smell and hearing because of poor eyesight.
Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec

Although tenrecs have lived on Madagascar for some 60 million years, it is possible that some will not survive more than a few decades more.  Habitat loss is the greatest threat to this and other tenrec species.

Did YOU Know?    
The Malagasy word for tenrec is tandraka.
Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec
Class: mammals
Order: Afrosoricida
Family: Tenrecidae
Genus: Echinops
Species: telfairi
Length: Up to 9.6 inches with tail
Weight: 200 grams
Wild Diet: insects, eggs, spiders and fruit
Where at the Zoo? Off Exhibit: Education Animal Facility

Learn more about mammals or animals from Africa!
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