Monday, July 19, 2010

Sengi

Also known as Elephant Shrews, Sengis are small mammals belonging to four genuses within the Macroscelididae Family. They are not actually related to true shrews all that closely, for they belong to a different Family and Order entirely. Because Elephant Shrew is a bit of a misnomer, biologists have been using the name "Sengi," which is their Bantu name. Interestingly, molecular research in recent years show that Sengis could be more closely related to the Elephant and they are to the Shrew.

Short Eared Sengis
Sengis are found only in Africa. Depending on the species, they live in savannahs and scrublands, as well as dense forests. Some species are diurnal, while others are active during both the day and night. Sengis are carnivores eat a variety of invertebrates, including worms and spiders. A few species will also supplement their invertebrate diet with fruits and other plant matter. They themselves are preyed upon by a wide variety of larger creatures, and as such, they must always be alert. Eagles, Lizards, and Snakes all hunt Sengis. When they have spotted a predator, they slap their tails on the ground as a warning signal.

Sengis mate for life, and many species breed continuously over the course of the year, though their little size is only one. While they are not a very vocal group, Sengis have exceptional sense of smell, sight, and hearing. Some will built complicated track systems throughout the undergrowth in order to both hunt and escape from predators.

Thanks to Heather for the suggestion!

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